When marketing practitioners and their bosses align on goals for social, they can unlock social’s potential as a true driver for business growth. For practitioners, this means understanding how marketing leaders prioritize their objectives for social and leaning on social data to develop effective strategies that support bottom-line goals. And for marketing leaders, sharing big-picture objectives with social practitioners can help them better understand what insights and social data to bring forward and put into action.
In the latest Sprout Social Index: Above & Beyond, we uncover how marketers can use social data to understand and expand their audience, engage with consumers on a deeper level and demonstrate the impact social creates across their organization.
Eventually, you should carve out time to dig into all of the data in this latest Index report, but in the meantime, here are eight key stats to start a conversation with your team about the importance of social data.
Understand your target audience to accomplish your goals
1. 56% of marketers use social data to understand their target audience.
While it can be tempting to cast a wide net in an attempt to reach the scores of people that are online, the best brands rely on their target audience to drive business success. Sprout Social found that 56% of marketers use social data to understand their target audience, but still, the number one challenge they face is identifying and reaching that audience. There’s a huge opportunity for marketers to do more with the data at their disposal.
Action Item: Social data from analytics, social listening and industry standards reports help paint a clear picture of who your customers are, how they use social media and what types of content hold their attention. Use these insights to develop more effective campaigns that speak to your core audience and lead to a greater return on your investments on social.
2. 69% percent of social marketers say increasing brand awareness is their number one priority.
The social media landscape is evolving every day, but some things don’t change. According to the 2020 Sprout Social Inde, the top priority for social media practitioners is increasing brand awareness, a ranking that matches findings from our 2019 survey.
However, there is some disconnect between practitioners and their marketing leaders. While awareness is important to everyone, marketing leaders are 36% more likely than practitioners to say growing their audience is a primary goal, followed by increasing community engagement. This disconnect points to an opportunity for social practitioners to better communicate and align with their bosses.
Action Item: Social marketers have the skills and data to visibly influence an organization’s goals and growth but they need visibility into their business’s top priorities to maximize that impact. To ensure social practitioners, marketing leaders and the heads of other departments are on the same page, set aside time to discuss each team’s goals in length and where social can make the greatest impact.
Give the people what they want and need
3. 61% of consumers say brands that are best in class on social know how to engage their audiences
Consumers recognize the brands that engage their audience effectively as best in class. While some brands lean on humor and entertainment to garner high engagement, what works for one brand won’t always work for another.
The top three reasons consumers follow brands in the first place are to learn about new products or services, stay up to date on company news and learn about promotions or discounts. With that in mind, marketers should focus on creating engaging content around those subjects, which ladder up to top-level goals.
Action item: Social media is often the first place where customers will turn to for product and service information. Use that as an opportunity to collect early feedback for product teams, share timely updates about your business, generate leads for sales teams and serve on the front-lines of customer service.
4. Both marketers and consumers say creativity is the No. 1 reason a brand’s social presence stands out
There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution to engagement, but both social marketers and consumers agree that a brand’s social media presence stands out from the competition when it is creative. Sixty-eight percent of consumers want to engage with static images and 50% want to engage with video, but brands can maximize creativity by using a healthy mix of other engaging assets like polls, stories and live video.
Social data can help marketers identify what their target audience considers creative so when they launch their next social campaign, they can be sure it stands out on buyers’ social feeds.
Action item: In addition to your current data, marketers can further validate what creative elements work for your goals with creative testing. Begin creative testing to assess which images, videos, copy combinations and more will engage their customers and which will drive them away.
5. 50% of consumers say they’re most likely to use social media during a major personal milestone
Personal milestones top the list of when people are most likely to be on social media, followed by sporting events. Additional research reveals consumers are primarily motivated to use social to connect with family and friends.
When targeting customers celebrating these kinds of personal milestones, marketers should consider which social platforms those people use to source their inspiration. Pinterest is one of the go-to destinations for consumers planning a wedding, designing their dream home or meal prepping For retailers, event planners or food-focused businesses, launching a social campaign on Pinterest could bring them closer to their target audience.
It’s clear that consumers are future-oriented. As Pinterest’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andréa Mallard told Adweek, “While consumers look forward, most messaging looks back… We all have a role in envisioning what’s next—including brands.”
Action item: Great content considers the touchpoints in consumers’ personal journeys and can make your customers feel seen by your brand. Create messages that consider your audience’s future plans and show how your brand can help them get there. As Mallard puts it, “Be part of the tomorrow they looked forward to today.”
Social media gives you a competitive edge
6. 89% of consumers will buy from a brand they follow on social media
Social media fuels revenue growth. Period. Data from the Index only solidifies this belief, with 89% of consumers saying they will buy from a brand they follow and 75% of consumers saying they’ll increase their spend with that brand.
Perhaps most importantly, social media can give a brand the advantage it needs over its competitors. When consumers follow a brand on social, 84% say they will choose that brand over a competitor, making it even more crucial for marketers to attract and retain their audiences.
With social data that validates and strengthens a brand’s content strategy, marketers can not only grow their social following but also ensure their audience stays engaged long-term.
Action item: Growing your brand’s social following isn’t just for vanity metrics—there are also real business implications for increasing your follower count. Lean into your social data to determine how you stack up against your competitors and where you stand to differentiate.
Careers in social demand reporting skills and executive support
7. 49% of social marketers in a hiring position say reporting ability is the number one skill they look for in candidates
The importance of social data is not lost on marketers in hiring positions today. While communication and content creation skills are important, reporting is the number one skill marketers look for in candidates.
Reporting is more than just putting raw data and numbers on a page and passing it off to leadership. It requires the keen ability to look at that data, analyze it and communicate the story that data tells. The marketers that do this best can bridge the disconnect that exists between social and top-line business metrics.
Action item: Leadership teams are focused on results and are more likely to support social teams that can clearly communicate the impact of their social initiatives. Marketing leaders can help their team build their influence internally by coaching practitioners on how to make data-driven recommendations that support multiple business objectives.
8. 42% of practitioners say they need more leadership buy-in to make a greater business impact through social—but only 39% say they have it.
Despite social media’s growing impact on businesses’ overall success, social marketers still struggle to get the resources they need. Whether a social team needs a bigger budget for ads or more robust analytics tools that uncover the data required to optimize social strategies, social leaders must be advocates for their team.
Action item: Executive buy-in can be difficult to get when higher-ups aren’t aware of just how valuable your work is. As a marketing leader, look for opportunities to increase your team’s visibility across the organization and have them share insights that back up business goals. And for social practitioners, challenge yourself to think about who isn’t asking for data and how they could benefit from your social insights.
These eight key stats are just a few of our findings in the Sprout Social Index–download the report to read our full insights on how you and your social team can go above and beyond.