Empower & Elevate: 3 Key Takeaways from the Sprout Social Index

Social media management company Sprout Social released a comprehensive guide to social marketing— The Sprout Social Index, Edition XV: Empower and Elevate. By surveying more than 1,000 social marketing experts about their goals, challenges and expectations, the study aims to understand the full potential of social media and how it can provide the most value to brands. The responses from marketers were then cross-referenced with the responses from active social media consumers. 

Start With the Data From Social Listening

In the study, brands reported that they struggle with identifying and understanding target audiences, which can be solved through careful social listening. It’s important for social marketers to remember to find the ‘why’ behind consumer behavior if they want to form lasting connections. With social data more accessible than ever before, marketers have access to information that supports initiatives like trend analysis, product research, competitor insights and sentiment research.

Nearly half of all social marketers reported that the number one challenge they face is developing a strategy which supports their organizations’ overall business goals. Part of this issue can be attributed to the lack of collaboration social teams have with departments that could benefit from social guidance. Sprout Social emphasizes the importance of social practitioners having the ability to collaborate with the right teams in order to set goals that meet consumer and brand expectations, then use data about consumer habits and preferences to build connections with their audience on social. 

Consumers Want to be Entertained

When consumers were asked what types of posts they’re most likely to comment on and share, entertainment posts were the highest-ranked answer, with posts promoting discounts or sales coming in last. To better engage social followers, marketers should focus on strengthening the connections they share with their followers by moving them through the funnel with a combination of discounts, product demonstrations and educational content. Not every consumer will take the plunge on the first click— and that’s okay.

The guide references Casper, the direct-to-consumer mattress brand, and its use of social media that drove the brand to $100 million in revenue in its first full year of mattress sales by positioning itself as the authority on sleep. Instead of posting promotional codes, the mattress brand posts a combination of relatable tweets, wellness tips and unboxing videos to make followers feel like they’re missing out on a one-of-a-kind experience. By investing in authentic content that resonates with its audience, Casper transformed an otherwise pedestrian experience (buying a mattress) into a coveted activity.

Optimize Facebook

The study revealed an unsurprising truth: Facebook is still the optimal social channel to reach consumers. 89% of marketers use Facebook for their brand marketing, while 83% of consumers use Facebook to connect with brands. Facebook offers many unique opportunities for brands to communicate their messages to consumers through Facebook Live, Facebook Video, Stories, Groups and more. According to the study, almost half of consumers are in private brand groups. 

Following Facebook, the next three most effective platforms for brands to reach consumers are Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

The Bottom Line

Marketers must focus on aligning their social strategies with other parts of the business and identify ways to use social to drive bottom-line growth. Beneath social’s vanity metrics, insights and connections provided by social listening and data can fuel multiple strategies from marketing and product development to sales and customer service. With more consumer insights than ever at their fingertips, social marketers are a key factor to long-term business growth and success.