Brands seeking to generate more sales and grow their markets need to focus on social media. Pre-pandemic numbers gathered by a Pew Research Center survey showed 72 percent of Americans use it to connect with others, follow the news, share information, and be entertained. Those numbers rose even higher after the pandemic was declared, and while the near-term future of quarantines has yet to be determined, it’s clear from all reports that social media is today’s growth engine.
As further proof, Pew began tracking and collecting social media data since 2005. At that time, they discovered that 5 percent of Americans were on social media. That number has been steadily growing ever since, so by May 2011, Pew reported the percentage had risen to 50%.
Another survey conducted earlier this year and before the pandemic by social media management firm Sprout Social found that half the consumers they surveyed increased their usage of social media 50 percent for the past six months ending March 4, 2020. COVID-19 was declared a national emergency on March 13. Another reason experts anticipate social media growing, even more, is because our younger generations live, thrive, and depend on it.
If those numbers aren’t convincing enough, Sprout Social says its latest findings showed that 89% of customers who follow a social media brand would buy from that brand. What’s more, is that the same survey revealed that 75 percent of those same consumers increase spending with that brand. What’s surprising is that CMOs aren’t maximizing their social media data. Only 23% told Sprout Social they use it to measure ROI. An even smaller number—16 percent—said they use the data for competitive insights. The good news is that it’s not too late to get on board.
Despite numerous white papers and articles recommending that brands take down silos within their organizations, Sprout Social found that many marketing departments still operate in isolation within their organizations. These companies need to recognize the importance of collaboration and clear communication across all departments to deliver higher ROI. If the CEO doesn’t embrace the concept, it’s the responsibility of the CMO and other leaders to convince the CEO of this importance and make it happen.
Brands must set their own goals and craft a social media strategy that aims at them and what follows. In Sprout Social’s 2019 survey, increasing brand awareness ranked highest. It was followed by increasing web traffic, growing the brand’s audience, promoting content, and increasing community engagement.
In the last survey, 68 percent of consumers and 74 percent of marketers told Sprout Social they planned on using Facebook more in 2020. More recently, however, over a thousand brands have boycotted Facebook over content management, and that controversy is not yet resolved. What’s encouraging is that 34 percent of consumers and 63 percent of marketers also said they also planned on using Twitter more. Add to that mix a younger generation where 87 percent prefer YouTube and 85 percent Instagram. Brands will need to carefully monitor and target their audiences and platforms in this changing landscape.
Thinking, acting, and speaking in the voice(s) of customers will be even more critical going forward. An earlier article emphasized the importance and impact of customer empathy. With the stresses of today’s pandemic, this is even more important.
Sprout Social’s survey also identified the key areas customers felt to make brands the best in class in social media. Engagement with customers ranked first, followed by transparency and memorable content. Being creative, memorable, and impactful were the top three choices for what made a brand stand out.