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article imageQ&A: Why marketers need to utilize social media Special

By Tim Sandle     Jun 16, 2019 in Business
Given that 45 percent of people have increased their social media usage over the past year, this highlights the power social holds for both consumers in everyday society and the opportunities for marketers in obtaining data and driving business results.
According to the Sprout Social 2019 Index, despite social’s positive influence across an organization, 53 percent of C-level marketers indicate that proving the value of social to those outside their department remains a challenge. Furthermore, 31 percent of those involved with marketing has said they find it difficult to secure budget and resources for social media.
These issues are limiting the ability of marketing departments to utilize the opportunities that can be gained from social media, according to Rachael Samuels, social media manager at Sprout Social, as she explains to Digital Journal.
Digital Journal: How important is social media for connecting brands and consumers?
Rachael Samuels: There’s no denying the power social media holds in the current societal landscape. In fact, our most recent research found nearly 45% of people have increased their social media usage in the past year alone. With billions of people (and climbing) engaging on the platform daily, social media is becoming one of the most impactful connection tools, with the most insights, throughout the entirety of a business.
And even more important, people actually want brands to use social media to build connections—not only do 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, they rank social media as the number one channel to do so. By striking a balance between consumer presence and preference, social media is now crucial for organizations looking to form stronger relationships with their customers and lasting business success.
DJ: Is this the same for all types of businesses?
Samuels: Yes, regardless of the size or type of business, social media provides valuable insights that enable organizations to create deeper and stronger relationships with their customers. Unfortunately, while 71% of social marketers agree they are able to provide helpful insights to teams outside of their departments, communicating the value of social across an organization remains a top challenge. When data is siloed in one department, other teams are losing out on valuable insight that can make a strategic difference and benefit the overall organization. Businesses that break down these barriers will fuel more data-driven strategies across product development, sales and customer service and ultimately, drive growth.
DJ: What types of insights can businesses draw from social media?
Samuels: Social media is truly a treasure trove of information for businesses because it gives them a unique opportunity to listen to and learn from their customers. Marketers can leverage social to glean insights on everything from audience demographics to content performance to customer satisfaction. Additionally, with social listening businesses can identify industry trends, analyze competitive campaigns and collect ideas from product development and innovation.
DJ: Which types of social media posts should brands be prioritizing?
Samuels: While every brand is unique and should prioritize their own social data when taking a critical look at what type of content correlates to successful interactions, our research does provide directional data that marketers can leverage in their plans. To drive awareness and initially engage consumers, entertaining and inspiring content is most effective—67% of people said they will engage with social posts that are entertaining and 57% with posts that are inspirational.
Once they are through the door though, highlighting authentic and relatable posts from customers or even employees can help drive strong product consideration. In fact, 45% of consumers say they are more likely to research a product or service when an employee posts about it, compared to 32% when a celebrity or influencer posts about the same thing. But what brings people across the conversion barrier? Sixty-one percent of consumers said posts offering discounts could encourage them to make a first purchase.
DJ: What is ‘social listening’ and how can businesses use this?
Samuels: Social listening enables brands to uncover insights into people’s honest thoughts, feelings and opinions by tapping into the data from public conversations happening across social media. This can help drive decision-making across an organization by providing unfiltered insight into how people are using a product, what customers are passionate about and if there are any relevant industry trends the brand should be aware of, among other things.
DJ: What strategies gain the most attention on social media?
Samuels: A robust social video strategy is becoming a core component of successful social media marketing. In particular, live video is gaining popularity given its interactive and transparent nature. With 45% of consumers saying they want to see more live videos from brands in 2019, marketing departments should be looking at how they can invest in video expertise and technology to feed consumer demand.
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