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Sprout Social Index 2018

The days of social as an optional marketing channel are over. Now that social has its rightful place at the table, it is vital to understand where in the funnel social efforts should be targeted.

As marketers, we hear about ROI every single day—and social marketers remain anxious about it. To truly understand what ROI means in the social marketing industry, and how social marketers are aligning with consumer preferences, we asked more than 2,000 social marketers how they approach structure, goals and content. We asked about their priorities and what they need to do their best work. Then we cross-referenced their efforts against what consumers actually want.

We found that social is still very much a personal platform. People spend time on social, first and foremost, to interact with family and friends. As brands put together campaigns and messaging, they must remember that they are guests at dinner, not members of the nuclear family: their role in user feeds is delicate, valuable and should be treated with great care.

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So how can brands disrupt the user experience in the least intrusive and most relevant way?

Our data shows the answer: with awareness and consideration stage content. Think long-term, not quick fix. Think relationships, not attribution.

This latest and most comprehensive Sprout Social Index shows how marketers should realign and redefine their social strategies and how serving audiences contributes to the bottom line.


Key Findings

Consumers want brand awareness and consideration stage content from brands on social. But 80% of social marketers are hyper-focused on awareness activities, leaving out the consideration piece of the puzzle.

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The social marketer’s No. 1 challenge is still ROI. Return on investment is the topconcern for 55% of social marketers. This makes sense for two reasons: They aren’tmeeting the full needs of their social audience with both brand awareness and consideration content; and they’re defining ROI incorrectly to begin with.

Where there is alignment: customer service. On the front lines with customers and prospects everyday, an overwhelming majority (88%) of social marketersunderstand the importance of customer service on social; nearly half (45%)of consumer respondents have reached out to a company on social.

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Employee advocacy is the new influencer marketing. Social marketers in 2018 see the value in employee advocacy as a cost-effective, scalable alternative to influencer marketing. Seventy-one percent of social marketers use employees as influencers or advocates today or want to in the future, while only 19% of marketers surveyed had the budget for an influencer program. This shift reflects consumer tastes: 61% of consumers said they would be more likely to research a product or service recommended on social by a friend vs. 36% for influencers/celebrities.

Social marketing departments are under-resourced. More than half of social marketers don’t have access to all the software they need, and 65% of social marketers indicate needing a dedicated resource for content development.

Facebook remains a dominant force in marketing strategies and consumer behavior. A whopping 97% of social marketers list Facebook as their most used and useful social network, and Instagram blows Snapchat out of the water by social marketer usership and consumer adoption. In fact, 83% of marketers use Instagram and 13% use Snapchat; 51% of consumers use Instagram and 30% use Snapchat.

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Source: report

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