Seventy percent of marketers say that their primary goal for using social media is to increase brand awareness, showing that social is about more than sales.
Social media will always be a powerful marketing tool for brands, yet (47%) of marketers say that the challenge they face is creating a social media strategy that supports their organization’s goals.
Sprout Social’s latest report reveals that marketers’ goal for social media is to increase brand awareness, with 70% choosing this option. Sales/lead generation (59%), are likely to reflect the broader goals of an organization social media isn’t for every company.
Other goals for social media include increasing community engagement (48%), growing the brand’s audience (46%), and increasing web traffic (45%). Figures show that social media is increasingly becoming the tool for selling or for directing traffic, still predominantly all about increasing awareness.
The idea of increasing community engagement is important when you consider the ways of measuring engagement across social platforms. Brands may use comments or shares as a sign of commitment, others will look at conversion, which may not accurately reflect the goals of their social media strategy.
Overall, most marketers have their definition of engagement lined up with their top goals when it comes to social media. 72% define likes and comments as engagement and a crucial part of measuring progress of their strategy.
Over a third (34%) define engagement in terms of revenue attribution, it may not provide accurate measures of success – especially if their not suited to social selling.
Platforms Marketers Use
Out of all the social platforms that marketers use, Facebook is the most popular. Some 89% of marketers use the platform as part of their social strategy. However, just 66% of consumers follow brands on this platform, so the brands messaging may not be reaching a large portion of their target audience.
Following Facebook, the second most popular platform is Instagram, with 65% of marketers incorporating the image-sharing platform into their strategy. Once again, fewer consumers (41%) follow brands on Instagram; however, there are a lot more influencers on the platform, meaning brands have more options when it comes to increasing engagement.
The most significant difference between brands and consumers are on LinkedIn. While 38% of marketers use LinkedIn as part of their brand’s strategy, only 6% of consumers follow brands on the platform. Meaning that unless an approach is incredibly targeted, it may fall short of achieving the type of engagement you want on LinkedIn.
While having a presence across several social media platforms is the best option; understanding where to put the bulk of your investment is vital. With the main goal for marketers when it comes to their social strategies being increasing brand awareness, it’s no wonder that over half (54%) prioritize which social platforms to invest in based on potential audience reach.
The cost of paid ads on a platform is a significant consideration for 47% of marketers, with ads that cost less but reach more people likely to be the biggest draw. Despite the reach being prominent aspects of marketers’ decisions, only 24% say that they consider targeting options when prioritizing social media investment.
Although developing a social media strategy that supports overall business goals is the most prominent challenge marketers face, it is far from the only one. Marketers also struggle to target and understand their audience, secure budget for social media, and publishing content.
One challenge that will affect overall social media results is measuring ROI. Not understanding how to measure ROI means that no matter what your goals, you will not be able to show a success. This ultimately affects other aspects of the strategy, especially securing a budget for future ventures and adjusting the social strategy with other parts of the business.
Understanding consumers’ motivations
While marketers develop strategies for social media that will benefit the brand, it’s vital to consider consumers’ wants and habits too. Posting the wrong thing at the wrong time can mean you lose parts of an audience, and so reduce the overall success of a strategy.
The Sprout Social report also includes information on why consumers take specific actions, which should always be the base on targeting an audience.
According to the findings, 50% of consumers follow brands on social media to learn about new products or services, which is the biggest motivation. Good news for those who are using social media to improve sales, but it isn’t as easy as just making every post about products, especially when you consider the fact that 49% of consumers follow the brands.
Over a third (36%) follow brands that show that aspirational content is still a big deal, while 35% look for educational content. Both of these reasons provide healthy ideas for content and produce a varied strategy.
In terms of reasons why consumers unfollow brands, poor customer service is the biggest reason, with 56% choosing it. Although only 20% of consumers follow a brand to communicate with it, customer service is still a vital part of a social media strategy. Failing to answer messages or respond to comments can result in unfollows and negative sentiment across platforms.
The second most significant reason for unfollowing a brand is irrelevant content, proving that understanding your target audience is a must.
Consumers are turned off by too much promotion with too many ads (43%) and many promotional posts (35%), both being a reason to unfollow. This shows that balancing your strategy to ensure content is relevant, but not all product-focused is essential to its success.
What Encourages Engagement?
Bearing all of this in mind, what types of posts are most likely to get the engagement that brands and social media marketers seek?
According to the research, posts that entertain are more likely to be liked or shared on a platform. Posts that aren’t necessarily about the product or service on offer but that shows the personality of a brand are more likely to see higher engagement.
Other popular posts are those that inspire those that teach. Posts that share discounts or sales are least likely to be liked, even though 38% of consumers follow brands to be informed about discounts.
Aligning goals of a social media strategy that is the overall business is essential, it isn’t always going to work. A brand may want to boost sales, social media is not still going to do this right away.
Social media is vital for boosting brand awareness, but to do this, you need to have a good understanding of your audience. Create relevant content – which shouldn’t all be sales-focused – but deliver the right type of customer service.
Similarly, understanding what turns consumers off are brands that help you avoid social media mistakes and reduce your following.
What this report shows is that marketers need to get to grips with measuring and reporting on social media ROI. If platforms and results are not all about sales, you need to understand precisely what contributions to your return on investment and how to tie this to your strategic goals.