Thousands of businesses have been fighting for survival during the pandemic and more have turned to social media in an attempt to connect with their customers and stay afloat. The pressure has been heaped on social marketers, but insights from a new report have revealed that success on social media is much easier than they think, and they can maximise their social value simply with more focus.
Sprout Social, a leading provider of social media analytics, engagement and advocacy solutions for business, surveyed 500 UK and Irish marketers and 500 consumers for The 2021 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition. The report provides a snapshot at how effectively businesses have been connecting, engaging and selling to potential customers on social media. It also indicates how aligned businesses’ social strategies are with customer expectations – and the results might surprise many overworked marketers.
The Index reveals that marketers and consumers are misaligned in regard to what they want to achieve on social media. While marketers are putting undue pressure on themselves to deliver innovative social content, consumers care most about brands that put the customer first. In addition, when it comes to goals, 65% of businesses reported that driving brand awareness was their main goal, but only 17% said that driving revenue was a main business goal, despite 63% of all consumers purchasing from social media.
For businesses to maximise the value of their social channels and achieve greater success, they must focus on what the customer wants. Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social, expands on this point: “Marketers need to ensure they have a better understanding of their audience’s needs and expectations to maximise the value of their social media channels. While businesses feel there’s a pressure to be everywhere, they will find the most success by focusing on what matters most to their customers—exceptional customer service and an investment in social commerce. By keeping this focus, marketers will have clearer priorities and goals that will not only drive business growth, but will result in less complicated and pressurised work.”
● Marketers’ expectations of what it means to be best-in-class differ from customer expectations. For many, it appears that marketers are putting themselves under more pressure by trying to be all things to all people. Delivering innovative social content and being culturally relevant are the top two qualities marketers list as what makes a brand best-in-class, while in contrast, consumers rank brands putting the customer first as their top attribute.
● Marketers are missing potentially huge social commerce opportunities. Over the past year, 63% of people bought something via social media, demonstrating a growing confidence in shopping on a social platform. However, only 17% of marketers listed driving revenue as a business goal on social media.
● Customer service on social matters most to consumers. Marketers ranked brand awareness as the main social media goal of 65% of British and Irish businesses, but only 30% of them thought social media was to contribute to their goal of providing customer service and support. And yet, when consumers were asked what businesses could do on social media to keep them from buying from them over their competitors, they said customer service is what matters – timely response to service enquiries and demonstrating and understanding of their needs. It is clear they care more about service and their needs go beyond just consuming content.
● With customer service in mind, cross-team collaboration is essential. For the majority of businesses, social media is still considered primarily a marketing function, yet many teams are still working in silos. Cross-team collaboration is essential, but few organisations are committed to an integrated social programme across departments and 71% of respondents said this was either only occasional or non-existent.
● Businesses understand the why of social, but not the how. Marketers are aware of the importance of social media and have invested more time into getting onto multiple and new platforms. However, most businesses are still figuring out how to get the most out of these platforms and successfully build communities there.
The 29-page 2021 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition explores how marketers can find the audiences they want, what consumers really expect from businesses on social and how to use data to be a proactive leader in the marketing space.