This post was first published at The Agency Post.

When I first started in the agency world, I learned very quickly how important being “present” meant for the company and the clients. There was a policy of “engage everything.” At first, I thought it was a waste of energy, but I have now come to believe that everyone deserves a response from a brand. Everyone.

I’m not talking about inspirational quotes about living life in the present. I’m talking about the need for a brand to be present. In that context, it means listening and interacting, even if it’s a lot of work.

Of course, this is something we all know already, right? Guess again.

As a New York City resident, I hear about a lot of great local food and dessert locations, and I do my best to try them out when I can. I had heard rave reviews about a local ice cream shop and decided to give it a try. The Big Gay Ice Cream company began as a food truck and has since expanded to two physical locations.

It did this because its growing fan base demanded it. But, through that growth, it also lost its human touch. On my first visit, the service was great. The second time, not so much. The staff was rude to my boyfriend and me on our anniversary.

That night, we both posted on Foursquare and sent the company a message, and to our surprise, one of our Foursquare negative reviews was liked by the company. And our message has gone unanswered.

On the flip side, I recently found a new coffee shop in Astoria by way of a street campaign inviting me into the store. It was old school. Free bagel? Sure! What I found at the New York City Bagel & Coffee House was not only great food, but also a friendly staff and an even friendlier owner.

On more than one occasion, the owner has come out to say “hi” and even takes the time to comment back on the company’s Facebook page. He has taken the time to listen and be present.

Now, I know I am not Peter Shankman (see his experience with being a respected customer and a bad one with US Airways), and this feedback will likely go unheeded, but the point to marketers in the social media space is simple:

Your “digital” customers matter as much as your physical ones.

  • 1 in 3 consumers prefer to contact brands on social media rather than the telephone.
  • Only 36 percent of consumers who make customer service enquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.
  • 71 percent of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19 percent of customers who don’t get a response.
  • Being present with social-media marketing means building a program to handle, manage and resolve customer service issues. To be an agency that doesn’t believe in this does a disservice to your brand and the brands you champion.

A Facebook page is like a live 1-800 number. You would advise clients to answer their customer service lines, and I would advise clients to respond to as many people as possible on social channels.

Be present.