With 45% of consumers increasing their social media usage over the past six months, the channel is becoming ever more critical to business success for marketers, according to a new study.
Ninety percent of social marketers responding to a survey said investing in social media has a direct impact on their business revenue, yet communicating this priority across departments creates roadblocks, according to the 2019 Sprout Social Index.
Sprout Social surveyed 1,000 social marketers about their goals, challenges and expectations and cross-referenced responses of more than 1,000 consumers to understand how brands can elevate their strategies.
The report found that 71% of social marketers said they provide helpful insights to teams in other departments. Nearly half (47%) said developing a social media strategy that supports their organization’s goals is the number-one challenge. In fact, the biggest disconnect Sprout Social found was the communication gap between marketers and the rest of the organization.
Even though social data provides insights to help drive goals, marketers need a better platform to offer feedback and input on overall business strategy, according to Sprout Social.
“Social media is a channel through which billions of people engage with friends, family and brands daily, making it the most powerful tool with the most insight throughout the business,” Jamie Gilpin, CMO of Sprout Social, said in a release. “However, far too often these insights never leave the marketing department, keeping valuable data siloed from teams that could benefit from it most.”
Social listening is crucial for better understanding the target audience. Forty-three percent of social marketers say a major challenge is identifying and understanding their target audience. Sixty-three percent believe social listening is growing in importance.
Discounts and sales may prompt purchases, but entertainment and inspiration gain greater interest on social, a total flip from last year, Sprout Social found. Two-thirds of consumers said they will engage with social posts that are entertaining, while only 37% said the same about posts that included discounts or sales.
In the 2018 report, 67% of consumers said they were most likely to engage with discounts, while 51% said they would share posts promoting sales.
Employee advocacy gains popularity among brands and consumers. Seventy-two percent of social marketers use their employees as social media advocates.
Forty-five percent of consumers said they’re more likely to research a product or service when employees post about it, compared to 32% for influencers and celebrities. Employee advocates are quickly gaining traction with marketers looking to push their audience from awareness to consideration.
Live video, user-generated content and Instagram Stories topped social trends in 2019. Marketers can driver greater interest in their brand, people and products by driving content through the most popular consumer mediums. Forty-five percent of consumers said they want to see live video from brands in 2019, followed by more user-generated content and Instagram Stories (24% each).