As brands seek to differentiate themselves on social, Sprout Social’s 2023 Index reveals that twice as many consumers believe personalized care from brands is more memorable than content on trends and social issues
CHICAGO, Sept. 12, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Social media is no longer just a virtual gathering place for friends and family -- new research shows it's the epicenter of building brand-consumer trust that requires timely, genuine engagement from brands. Released today, the 2023 Sprout Social Index, Edition XIX: Breakthrough finds that a majority of consumers (51%) think the most memorable action a brand can take on social media is simply providing a response. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 consumers think speaking out about social issues and causes makes a brand memorable, despite this being seen as a differentiator in recent years. With consumers primarily following brands on social media to stay up-to-date on products and services (68%), the 2023 Index reveals a shift in what consumers want on social media and makes it clear that brands must prioritize personalized care and engagement.
Sprout Social, an industry-leading provider of cloud-based social media management software, surveyed over 1,800 consumers and 900 marketers across the US and UK to see how social media’s role has evolved in today’s business landscape, what consumers expect from brands on social, and how brands are planning for the future.
The research finds the majority of consumers (53%) are using social media even more today than during the pandemic-era surge, and marketers are leveraging AI in response to meet their desire for personalized connection and deliver better customer experiences at scale. In fact, 81% of marketers say AI has already had a positive impact on their work, citing more time for creativity (78%) and increased efficiency (73%) as the top benefits. Marketers are also seeing the positive impacts of AI taking on time-consuming work like data analysis, giving them more time to meet the demand for authenticity and have those personalized conversations that consumers crave.
“Our research shows consumer expectations continue to rise and shift year-over-year. Today’s consumers want brands to do more than jump on trends and social issues – they want to trust and truly connect with a brand, requiring them to be more responsive and personal than ever,” said Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social. “Social media is the channel for building that trust, and consumers expect a brand’s social presence to provide authentic communication and strong customer care. Our research also shows that with the introduction of more sophisticated AI-powered tools, marketers are able to do just that and at scale. AI is supporting social teams in streamlining workflows, delivering personalized insights, and creating memorable experiences that meet these modern demands.”
This year’s Index also shows demands on social teams are higher than ever. Authenticity tops the list of what consumers don’t see enough of from brands on social media, and 70% expect personalized responses when they reach out on social channels. More than three-fourths (76%) of consumers place equal value on brands prioritizing customer support and responding quickly to their needs, with 69% expecting a response within the same day of reaching out. In order to meet this demand for timely responses and streamline customer care on social, roughly half (47%) of marketers plan to use AI and automation tools to handle basic customer inquiries at scale, allowing them to focus on developing deeper, more personalized engagements with customers.
Additional key findings from the 2023 Index include:
Marketers have AI in their future plans, but not without some apprehensions. With over 8 in 10 already seeing the positive impacts of AI, marketers anticipate AI playing a role in analyzing social data (68%), content creation (66%), social media advertising targeting and campaign targeting (65%), and building chatbots (63%) in 2024. On the flip side, marketers rank job displacement as the #1 concern when it comes to AI. Furthermore, a third are concerned with maintaining a balance between AI and human touch in social media interactions, and 42% of consumers are apprehensive about brands using AI in social media interactions.
The social teams of tomorrow must make silos a thing of the past. Social’s role has expanded well beyond marketing, touching nearly every corner of a business. Today, 76% of social marketers say their team’s insights inform other departments and 65% say other teams inform their social efforts. Despite this, 43% of social teams still feel siloed from other departments, especially among mid-market (48%) and enterprise (44%) organizations in comparison to their small business counterparts (33%).
The social-to-revenue connection varies between practitioners and executives. Engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and comments are the most regularly tracked metrics among all respondents (78%). However, mid-level management and practitioners track social media traffic to the website (60%) and reach/impressions (58%) at a higher rate than executives (46% and 44%, respectively). While the measurement shows a new level of social media maturity, quantifying the value of social media engagement in terms of revenue will be marketers’ primary way of demonstrating social’s impact on business goals in 2024 and beyond.
Most social teams today are structured by social network, but adaptability will be key for continued success. The majority (64%) of social media teams today are organized by specific social media platforms or networks, with one team member being responsible for TikTok, another for Instagram, etc. The other most common team structures are based on different audience functions (48%) like community management or customer support, and distribution roles (44%) such as content creation, video production, and publishing.
For more on breaking through to the next era of social, download the full 2023 Index report.
About Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a global leader in social media management and analytics software. Sprout’s intuitive platform puts powerful social data into the hands of more than 34,000 brands so they can deliver smarter, faster business impact. With a full suite of social media management solutions, Sprout offers comprehensive publishing and engagement functionality, customer care, influencer marketing, advocacy, and AI-powered business intelligence. Sprout’s award-winning software operates across all major social media networks and digital platforms. For more information about Sprout Social (NASDAQ: SPT), visit sproutsocial.com.
About the Data
This research was conducted online in the US and UK by Cint on behalf of Sprout Social. Participants included 1,817 consumers who follow at least five brands on social media. Additionally, 903 full-time social marketers involved in managing their brand’s social media strategy (i.e., performed the job themselves or managed someone who does) were surveyed from a cross-section of US and UK businesses. Both surveys were conducted from June 12 to June 23, 2023. Relationships between variables collected were analyzed using parametric statistics for statistical significance.
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