What consumers want from brands on social, versus what marketers think consumers want on social!

It's no surprise that during lockdown, use of social media skyrocketed. Indeed, 76% of British and Irish consumers reported using social media more. Brands also followed this trend, following their consumers to social, as many traditional forms of marketing like out of home, in-store and sponsorship were put on hold. And as consumers turned to social at every stage of the buyer journey, it has been social media managers who have been working overdrive trying to keep up.

But have these efforts paid off?

At Sprout Social, we recently surveyed 500 marketers and 500 consumers from across Britain and Ireland to better understand how effectively brands have been connecting, engaging and selling to potential customers. The results provide a timely and fascinating snapshot of how the pandemic has added further pressure and responsibility to overworked social media managers. The good news, however, is that there are several steps that you can take to ease your workload while simultaneously improving the performance of your social channels.

Here’s what you need to know:

Your customers aren’t interested in trends, pop culture and memes. Consumers want great customer service first and foremost. When we asked consumers what businesses could do on social media to keep them from buying from them over their competitors, they said customer service is what matters most - timely response to service enquiries and demonstrating and understanding of their needs.

Seize untapped 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. Yet only 17% of marketers listed driving revenue as a business goal on social media. Brands that prioritise social commerce today may secure this heft of purchasing power tomorrow.

You can’t be all things to all people. Brands are flocking to new social platforms at a much faster rate than consumers are using them. Take time out to study your business data and performance. Which social channels really matter to your customers, and which deliver real value? Do you really need to be on as many social channels as you are?

Collaboration and communication will make your life easier. Most people still see social media as a marketing or PR function and as a result, 71% of businesses reported working with occasional cross-team communication or totally in silos. The data suggests that consumers already see and use social media as so much more than an opportunity to interact with a brand’s marketing team. Broadening the social media function to other departments will help you meet your customer’s expectations, at the same time as easing your pressure.

Further information

Download the 2021 Sprout Social Index: UK & Ireland Edition here: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/data/uk-ireland-index-2021

Written by Gerard Murnaghan, general manager and vice president at agency Sprout Social