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New Data Illustrates Shifting Social Media Behaviors and Expectations Among Consumers

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Sprout Social survey finds consumers are increasingly looking for connection and will reward brands who share their values on social

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a watershed social justice movement, it is no surprise that consumers have increasingly turned to social media. New data from Sprout Social, a leading provider of social media analytics, engagement and advocacy solutions for business, delves deeper into how social media behavior has changed as well as the increased expectations consumers have for brands in this new era.

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Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers about their use of social media and changes in expectations for brands over the past six months, key findings include:

  • As the pandemic continues, consumers turn to social for the experiences they used to get in person: Over the last six months, 62% of consumers have increased their use of social to connect with friends and family and 48% have increased their use for entertainment purposes.
  • Social is a hub for both news and education as consumers navigate a changing landscape: Over the last six months, 55% of consumers spend more time on social to stay up to date on news and 36% for education on timely topics.
  • Consumers will reward brands that share their values on social: When brands are forthcoming about their values on social, 58% are more likely to buy products or services from them if they share similar beliefs.
  • Consumers recognize missteps and take action accordingly: Nearly half of consumers (48%) say brands have recently posted irrelevant or insensitive content amid the current state of the country. And when that happens, more than one-third (36%) of consumers will unfollow the brand on social media.
  • Brands risk losing business if they fail to follow through: As the spotlight focuses on issues of social justice, 55% of consumers expect brands to take a stance that goes beyond corporate statements and monetary donations such as new corporate initiatives, or commitments to specific goals. These expectations are significantly higher among millennials (65%).
  • If brands fail to stay true to their commitments to social issues, they face serious consequences. Forty two percent would start buying from alternative brands and 29% would boycott the brand altogether.

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“People are increasingly turning to social for the things they can no longer get in person,” said Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social. “And with consumer expectations on the rise, it’s never been more important for brands to demonstrate their values and showcase how they’re contributing to change. People are holding brands to a new standard and are asking them to be stewards of accountability. As we work to adapt to these new expectations, brands must be willing to speak out and answer the call.”

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