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New Data Reinforces Social Media’s Role in Driving Bottom Line Growth as More Consumers Plan to Increase Spending on Brands they Follow on Social

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Sprout Social’s 2020 Index unveils data that illustrates how brands transform social into a significant growth engine and elevates the importance of learning new skills

As consumer purchase behavior is rapidly evolving, with more consumers turning to online buying in the current climate, brands’ online presence and social media strategy have never had such a direct impact on businesses. In fact, according to the 2020 Sprout Social Index: Above and Beyond, released today, nearly 9 in 10 consumers will buy products from a brand they follow on social media. The survey also shows that when consumers follow a brand on social, 75% will increase their spending with that brand, a number that has increased 12% year-over-year. Having a strong social strategy can help propel businesses forward with consumers buying more and increasing spending with their favorite brands.

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Sprout Social, a leading provider of social media analytics, engagement and advocacy solutions for business, surveyed 1,000 social marketers about their social goals, challenges and expectations, and cross-referenced their responses with those of more than 1,000 consumers to understand how they behave online and what they expect from brands considered best-in-class on social. Although consumer behavior clearly indicates the business impact of social media, marketers still struggle to measure the return on investment (ROI). In fact, social marketers rank measuring ROI and supporting overall business goals among their top three challenges. While 56% of social marketers use data to better understand their target audience, only 23% use social data to measure ROI and 16% use social data for competitive insights, suggesting that the use of social data has not reached its full potential.

“While social media is a powerful channel for brand awareness, it’s also a proven business accelerator. In fact, a strong brand presence on social media can drive consumers to purchase and give brands a leg up over their closest competitors,” said Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social. “This is especially true in today’s environment. Brands who fail to stand out on social or lack the ability to analyze social data are missing a big business opportunity, which can be crucial for future success.”

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The 2020 Index reveals insights on social media goals, how marketers can build strong connections with their audiences and overall what is considered best-in-class in the industry. Key findings include:

  • Brand awareness remains a top priority. Sixty-nine percent of social marketers say increasing brand awareness is their number one goal for social media, while 52% percent say increasing web traffic is their top priority and 46% are focused on growing their audience.
  • Engagement, transparency and customer service help brands stand out: When asked what makes a brand’s social presence best in class, consumers note that engagement with their audience (61%) is a top factor, along with transparency (45%) and strong customer service (44%).
  • Today’s marketers invest in learning new skills: Out of the professional goals for social marketers, learning a new skill ranked as the primary objective for more than half of all marketers (51%), even outperforming getting a promotion (38%) or increasing influence internally (43%) across both practitioners and leaders.
  • Visual social platforms are popular with younger consumers: Social platforms focused on photos and videos, like YouTube and Instagram, are quickly gaining traction among younger consumers. When asked which platforms they plan to use more of, 73% of members of Generation Z said Instagram while 65% said they plan to spend more time on YouTube.
  • Consumers expect timely responses on social media: How quickly a brand responds on social media is importantForty percent of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours. Response rates vary by industry, as real estate and legal rank the highest (29%), followed by recruiting & staffing (28%), finance & banking (28%) and healthcare (27%).

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