Businesses have experienced unprecedented levels of stress and change during the pandemic and, with a lack of opportunities to reach their customers, many more have turned to social media to connect and stay afloat. It means the pressure on their marketers has been immense, but insights from a new report have revealed that by simply prioritising customer service over creative content, a marketer’s role could be less stressful and more successful.
The 2021 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition provides a timely and fascinating snapshot at how effectively businesses have been connecting, engaging and selling to potential customers on social media. It indicates how aligned businesses’ social strategies are with customer expectations – and the results might surprise many overworked marketers.
The Index reveals that marketers and consumers are misaligned with regard to what they want to achieve on social media. While markers are putting undue pressure on themselves to deliver innovative social content, consumers care most about brands that put the customer first.
It means businesses could create less pressure and derive more success from social media marketing, simply by focussing on what their customers want – namely the delivery of first-class customer service and social commerce – over trends, pop culture and memes.
Sprout Social, a leading provider of social media analytics, engagement and advocacy solutions for business, surveyed 500 UK and Irish marketers and 500 consumers. It comes after businesses flocked to social media in droves to stay connected with consumers during lockdown – a good move considering the report found 76% of consumers have used social media more in the past year and 63% have purchased on it.
However, the report delves much deeper than that and its key findings can guide marketers in the right direction – hopefully with less stress.
- Marketers’ expectations of what it means to be best-in-class differ from customer expectations. For many, it appears that marketers are putting themselves under more pressure by trying to be all things to all people. Delivering innovative social content and being culturally relevant are the top two qualities marketers list as what makes a brand best-in-class, while in contrast, consumers rank brands putting the customer first as their top attribute.
- Marketers are missing potentially huge 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. However, only 17% of marketers listed driving revenue as a business goal on social media.
- Customer service on social matters most to consumers. Marketers ranked brand awareness as the main social media goal of 65% of British and Irish businesses, but only 30% of them thought social media was to contribute to their goal of providing customer service and support. And yet, when consumers were asked what businesses could do on social media to keep them from buying from them over their competitors, they said customer service is what matters – timely response to service enquiries and demonstrating and understanding of their needs. It is clear they care more about service and their needs go beyond just consuming content.
- With customer service in mind, cross-team collaboration is essential. For the majority of businesses, social media is still considered primarily a marketing function, yet many teams are still working in silos. Cross-team collaboration is essential, but few organisations are committed to an integrated social programme across departments and 71% of respondents said this was either only occasional or non-existent.
- Businesses understand the why of social, but not the how. Marketers are aware of the importance of social media and have invested more time into getting onto multiple and new platforms. However, most businesses are still figuring out how to get the most out of these platforms and successfully build communities there.
Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social comments: “The misalignment between businesses priorities and consumer expectations on social media have added to what has been an unbelievably hard 12 months for marketers, who have tried to be all things to all people. Our Index shows that customer service and social commerce are more important to consumers than creative content, and when marketers stay focused on these priorities, business growth and less complicated work are likely to follow.”
The 29-page 2021 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition explores how marketers can find the audiences they want, what consumers really expect from businesses on social and how to use data to be a proactive leader in the marketing space.
The full report can be downloaded from the Sprout Social website.