Do marketers really know what consumers want on social media?

By July 27, 2020 No Comments
Two girls looking at phones

Yes, marketers are consumers too but according to Sprout Social’s latest Social Index report, it seems that our marketing brains get in the way as soon as we sit down to start strategising for social media. 

The report features responses from over 1,000 social marketers and over 1,000 consumers, giving it a unique perspective. The results recognise how marketers and consumers view social media and the similarities and differences in viewpoints between the two. 

It looks at social marketers’ goals for social, what metrics they use and how they leverage social data and tools to achieve those goals. For consumers, it looks at how they behave online and what they expect from brands considered best-in-class on social media. 

Something we social marketers have to battle with is putting ourselves in the minds of our target consumers and the discrepancies that this report shows makes me question if our strategies for socials are giving consumers what they really want.

Brands undervalue community management

While both marketers (59%) and consumers (69%) agree that social accounts that are killing the game put engagement with their audience first (personally I think this number should be higher for marketers, *cough* community management *cough*), consumers don’t value memorable content, compelling storytelling or setting trends as much as we think they do. On the other hand even though we keep hearing the words transparent and genuine being thrown around as key players in the social media game, we still don’t emphasise it as much as consumers would like. 

45% of consumers will unfollow brands that publish irrelevant content

With the oversaturation already on these social platforms it is hard enough to get in front of your audience at the right time, let alone when your strategy is off. And that is not something you want to risk when 45% of consumers will unfollow brands that publish irrelevant content. Other reasons consumers will unfollow brands include poor quality of product or service, poor customer service and too many ads.

Creativity still kills, but keep it simple

But what will make consumers stick around? Creativity. Ahh the old creativity thing, luckily for us marketers think so too. Consumers also want this creativity in the form of images, videos and text-based posts, instead of fancy gifs, links, Q&As and UGC.

So other than creativity, why do consumers follow brands? The big ticket items include learning about new products or services, to stay up to date on company news, for promotions or discounts and to be entertained. This information should be guiding your content and is the juicy stuff consumers are craving.

We’re still obsessed with vanity metrics

Another point that is interesting to note is that even after the removal of likes, social marketers are still prioritising vanity metrics such as likes, shares and comments nearly twice as much as they do amplification and brand awareness metrics like reach, impressions and mentions. Which contradicts the 69% of social marketers that say increasing brand awareness is their number one goal when it comes to social media.

Let me ask you, if your number one goal is to increase brand awareness then why are you getting so caught up in engagement and neglecting amplification and brand awareness metrics?

Speaking of brand awareness, it is key to know where your audience is looking for new accounts and target them there. According to Sprout’s report 45% of consumers rely on suggestions in their feed or use discovery tools to find new accounts, 40% from recommendations from friends and families, 39% follow brands they admire or follow and 35%  follow accounts influencers they like mention. When it comes to the different generations Gen Z look toward influencers to find new accounts the most and Gen X mostly discover new accounts based on recommendations from friends and family.

Consumers find you through influencers but don’t want to know they’ve found you through influencers

This is particularly interesting as only 19% of consumer participants thought that influencer marketing would be a trend for 2020 versus the 42% of marketers. This is where I think the genuine thing comes in. Consumers find you through influencers but don’t want to know they’ve found you through influencers. Exhausting for us marketers right?

Other trends that rated highly for both marketers and consumers were live videos and stories. While only 10% of consumers think that viral challenges will be big in 2020 (sorry TikTok, I still love you).

The social platform monopoly is changing

Your tactics should also involve your platform choice and knowing where your audience is. While 68% of consumers planned to use Facebook more in the coming year, 87% of Gen Z plan on using Youtube more and 85% Instagram. Twitter on the other hand saw discrepancies with 53% of social marketers planning to use it more compared to the 34% of consumers, meaning we should stray away from investing too much time and effort here.

So what is shaping social media strategy if it isn’t the consumer?  Nearly two-thirds of marketers said they would look at their social performance to date to determine if they needed to adjust their plans for social, 57% said social goals and objectives, 53% will shape their approach based on customer feedback, 45% trending topics and interests, and 26% business goals and objectives.

Customer feedback is great but other than that where is the consumer? Where is the community engagement we’ve been talking about so much? Plus, how will we ever be taken seriously if we aren’t using social media to supplement the overall business goals and objectives?

If you’re still doubting the power of your social media here are some quick stats. Once consumers follow your brand:

  • 91% will visit your website or application
  • 89% will buy from your brand
  • 85% would recommend your brand to a family or friend
  • 84% would choose your brand over a competitor
  • 84% would visit your brand’s physical retail store
  • 75% increase their spending with your brand
  • 74% reach out for customer service or support 
  • 74% read your brand’s blog or site content
  • 71% engage with your brand on social media

As marketers we need to strip it back, make social marketing simpler again and really keep our finger on the pulse to pick up on actual consumer wants and needs. We always hear the phrases “put the customer first” and “walk in the shoes of your customer” – so now it is time to walk the walk.