Nearly 45 percent of people have increased their social media usage over the past six months, underscoring the importance of social in both our society and as a marketing channel. But even as social permeates every aspect of our lives, businesses still struggle to realize its power, according to new research from social media analytics, engagement and advocacy firm Sprout Social.

The firm’s new report, Sprout Social 2019 Index: Empower and Elevate, shows 90 percent of social marketers agree investing in social media has a direct impact on their business revenue, yet communicating its value across departments remains their largest roadblock.

The report found that while 71 percent of all social marketers agree they are able to provide helpful insights to teams outside of their departments, nearly half (47 percent) say developing a strategy that supports their organization’s goals is the number one challenge they face. While social data provides the insights needed to understand what is driving an organization’s goals, social marketers need a better platform to offer feedback and input on overall business strategy.

Social media is having a bigger impact on bottom lines

“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 insights, throughout the entirety of a business,” said Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social. “However, far too often these insights never leave the marketing department, keeping valuable data siloed from teams that could benefit from it most. Businesses that break down these barriers will fuel more data-driven strategies across product development, sales, and customer service and ultimately, drive growth.”

Social media is having a bigger impact on bottom lines

The 2019 Index further explores how marketers can contribute to revenue goals and facilitate a stronger connection between brands and consumers. Additional key insights include:

Social listening is crucial for better understanding target audiences

Forty-three percent of social marketers say a major challenge is identifying and understanding their target audience. To address this concern, marketers turn to social data: 63 percent of practitioners believe social listening will become more important in the coming year.

Discounts and sales may prompt purchase, but entertainment and inspiration gains greater interest on social, a total flip from last year

More than two-thirds of consumers (67 percent) say they will engage with social posts that are entertaining, while only 37 percent say the same about posts that included discounts or sales. That’s a big shift from the 2018 report, where 67 percent of consumers said they were most likely to engage with discounts and more than half (51 percent) said they would share posts promoting sales.

Employee advocacy gains popularity among brands and consumers

Today, almost three quarters (72 percent) of social marketers use their employees as social media advocates. With 45 percent of consumers saying they are more likely to research a product or service when employees post about it, compared to 32 percent 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 top the trends charts for social in 2019

Marketers have the opportunity to drive greater interest in their brand, people and products if they are driving content through the most popular consumer mediums. Forty-five percent of consumers say they want to see live video from brands in 2019, followed by 24 percent wanting more user-generated content and Instagram Stories.

Download the full report here.

Social media is having a bigger impact on bottom lines

Sprout Social 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 brands can elevate their social strategies to better serve their audiences’ needs as well as overarching business goals.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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