The Sprout Social Index 2018 – what do consumers want from your brand?

It's the million dollar question, and the social media management giant has attempted to answer it with its latest Index.

sprout social index

How closely aligned are your social marketing efforts with what your consumers actually want?

The 2018 Sprout Social Index has attempted to shine some light on that murky corner of marketing, and the results are intriguing.

Sprout – a leading social media management tool – asked more than 2,000 social marketers about ROI, strategy, teams, goals and a whole host of other issues. Then they cross-referenced their responses against insight from more than 1,000 consumers.

The results are revealing, as the key findings below illustrate.

The Sprout Social Index – key findings

Some 80% of social marketers are focused on marketing at the brand awareness stage of the funnel, but consumers in the survey indicated a preference for social content at the consideration stage – with a particular focus on links to more information about a product or service.

Unsurprisingly, the social marketer’s greatest challenge is ROI. In fact, 55% of those surveyed said measuring ROI was their number one challenge. Is that because they aren’t meeting the needs of consumers (as per the finding above this one)? Or is it because they haven’t defined ROI properly in the first place?

Social marketers have got social customer service covered. The Index found that 88% of social marketers say customer service is important to their brands (which begs the question: what are the other 12% doing?). This commitment to social customer care is important, because almost half (45%) of consumers have reached out to a company on social.

>> READ MORE: Expert interview: Conversocial founder and CEO Joshua March <<

Employee advocacy is a growing sector and an increasingly important tool in the social marketing toolbox. More than 70% of those surveyed said they use employees as advocates (though the question also included a ‘plan to use’ element, which regrettably muddies the waters somewhat). This tallies with consumer expectations – with 61% saying they would be more likely to learn more about a product if it had been recommended on social by a friend (versus 35% for influencers or celebrities).

It’s perhaps no surprise to learn that social marketers believe their teams are under-resourced (has any survey of this nature ever revealed an excess of resources?). Only a third of those surveyed had the software they needed to do their job, with 60% saying they did not have sufficient budget for the tools they needed.

Facebook remains king among social marketers. Some 97% use the social giant in their marketing activities, with Twitter next in line with 88%. Facebook-owned Instagram is next with 83%, followed by LinkedIn on 65% and YouTube on 58%. Snapchat was left trailing with just 13% usage.

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