If anything bolstered the popularity of social media, it was the pandemic. With most of our population in lockdown mode, increasing numbers of people turned to social media to maintain contact with friends and family.
Marketers tracking this trend have quickly taken advantage of this. In fact, social media’s appeal had been on a sharp incline even before COVID-19. According to Sprout Social, consumers who bought from brands they follow on social media rose 12% to 75% this year compared to the previous year. The social media platform company polled more than a thousand consumers in March and April.
The survey also found that 90% of consumers purchase from brands they follow on social media. Videos and photos also enhance marketing efforts Sprout Social reported that 73% of Gen Zers plan on using more frequently while 65% said they would be spending more time on YouTube.
A brand’s engagement with their target audience continues to be important. The research found that a brand’s most important trait is how it manages its interaction with consumers. Of those polled, 6% said so, transparency came in second at 45%, followed closely behind was good customer service at 44%.
The latter and CRM have always been the hallmark of good companies and seem to have gotten more acute since the pandemic. Three-quarters of consumers polled expect to receive a response within 24 hours of initiating contact or submitting an issue or question via social media while another 40% expect a response within an hour.
The Other Side of the Coin
To get a 360-degree vision of social media, Sprout Social also polled 1,000 social marketers at the same time. What they discovered was alarming. Just 16% of marketers said they leverage data from social media to gain competitive insights. The potential from gathering, analyzing and applying information is far from being maximized.
Of those social marketers polled, 69% believe brand awareness to be their top priority in using social media. However, another 52% believe increasing web traffic is number one while 46% said they’re concentrating on increasing their audience.
In terms of personal goals, 51% of social marketers said learning a new skill was a priority. This led to getting a promotion (38%) as well as having more influence internally (43%).
Lower ad prices on social media are expected to prevail as CMOs will be challenged to manage smaller budgets and get sales back to normal levels. One option marketers should consider is diverting ad funds for other media to social media in recognition of its heavy traffic and the consumer reliance stated above.
Of five spending categories surveyed by eMarketer in April, spending for social media was down 28%. The smallest decline was in paid search with a drop of 25%. Digital audio with a decline of 35% led the way followed by digital displays (34%) and digital video (32%). The digital research company also forecasted that social ad budgets would see an average decline of 28% in the second quarter of this year.
Another shift detected by Sprout Social is that some marketers are steering away from performance-oriented ads to brand messaging. This trend is expected to continue until the economy reopens and recovers. Marketers responding to Sprout Social ‘s poll felt optimistic about the economy for the second half of 2020.