5 Takeaways From the 2022 Sprout Social Index

July 11, 2022

Can we all agree that social media marketing is important for brands in 2022? Marketers and consumers in the most recent Sprout Social Index certainly do. Data from the Index finds that in just three years marketers went from having to convince senior leadership that social media was business-critical to now constantly looking out for top social media marketing talent. Among the many benefits that marketing on social media has for brands, marketers cite increased exposure, traffic and leads as the top three. While the benefits of social media marketing may be synonymous across industries, social media strategies (like clothes) aren’t one size fits all. They should be tailored to fit your company and target audience. That being said, there are certain elements that consumers expect to see from brands on social media. Here are five things your brand’s social media marketing should contain, based on the Sprout Social Index survey of over 500 US marketers and 1,000 US consumers. 

1. Your Social Media Marketing Should: Meet Your Audience Where They Are 

To get the ROI for social media marketing and all of the benefits that come with it, you have to meet your audience where they’re at. Like meeting a friend for lunch or a business lead for coffee, you want to pick the proper setting and dress the part. In social media, this translates to platform selection and content creation. Knowing which demographics are on what platform will help you structure your content to appeal to them. After all, 51% of consumers report unfollowing brands on social media because they post irrelevant content. One type of content that’s stayed trending over the past two years is, of course, short-form video. According to the Sprout Index, 66% of consumers report paying the most attention to short-form video on social media with images tagging closely behind at 61%. Share on X

2. Your Social Media Marketing Should: Show Your Audience Where They Could Go

While you want to join your audience where they’re at on social media, staying ahead of the curve is always a good thing. As Sprout Social says, “Strike a balance between meeting customers where they are at and showing them what the future can hold.” Consumers and brands anticipate the future of the next 12 months to include interactions over VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and XR (extended reality). Next on the list of emerging technologies on the radar: cryptocurrency and the metaverse. Whether these technologies will continue to take off is unknown, however, 29% of marketers anticipate spending up to one fourth of their budget on the metaverse, AR and VR strategy in the next two years. 

3. Your Social Media Marketing Should: Prioritize Customer Service  

Whatever platforms fit best into your content strategy, make sure to r-e-s-p-o-n-d to your audience when they reach out to you. According to the Index, 36% of consumers say they’ll share the negative experience with their friends and family if the wait time is too long, and 31% won’t complete their purchase. In terms of just how fast those responses should be, 44% of consumers cited between 1 to 12 hours as the ideal timeframe, while 13% expect a response in less than 1 hour. Exceeding customer expectations, 29% of marketers feel that responses should occur within less than 1 hour. As for where these inquiries most occur, brands and consumers are on the same page with Facebook and Instagram top of mind. While brands anticipated Twitter to be the third-most preferred platform, the Index reveals that customers are more likely to seek brand information on YouTube. This move showcases an area of opportunity for brands to feature more educational content on their YouTube channels. This is a content marketing strategy we took for Orange Label client Dr. Elisabeth Potter by releasing two live videos that answer common questions she receives: introducing herself and addressing breast reconstruction myths.  

4. Your Social Media Marketing Should: Highlight Your Products and Services 

Now that we’ve talked about where to find your consumers and how fast to respond to them when you get there, the next thing to cover is what to post. In a world of TikTok dances, trending audio snippets and Instagram aesthetics, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that 51% of consumers want to see posts highlighting a brand’s product or service, and 39% want to hear real customer testimonials. Next up on the trend of most-appreciated and recognized brand content includes posts that highlight a brand’s personality followed by authentic, less-produced videos. This authentic look can be seen in our client Greenwell Farms’ social media. To portray the Kona Coffee farm’s “aloha feel” on social media, we often work with user-generated content (UGC) clips, videos captured by phone that our clients send to us and previous evergreen assets that we combine into reels such as this one that showcase Greenwell’s emphasis on community. This social media marketing strategy is one that will look significantly different from a buttoned-up business or luxury resort.  

5. Your Social Media Marketing Should: Remain True to Your Brand Values

When making a decision to choose a brand over a competitor, 58% of consumers stated trust in the brand and 40% stated alignment with their personal values. Whether it’s an emphasis on reducing carbon emissions and focusing on climate change, like shoe company Allbirds, or a commitment to empower people to live healthier lives, like Nekter, highlighting shared values with your consumers should be one of your brand’s guiding compasses on social media. Taking a stance on sensitive issues is important to 71% of consumers and even more so for Gen Z and Millennial consumers at 73% and 77%, respectively. Share on X One key factor to consider when deciding whether to post on social media about certain issues is noting which directly align with your showcased brand values. While this step may be unfamiliar territory, speaking out on relevant issues is a topic that 66% of marketers report encouraging companies and leadership teams to consider. 

Keeping your brand values and audience at the forefront of every post you make and focusing on an intentional content strategy will help you utilize the power of social media marketing to its full potential. Bolstered by data like the Sprout Social Index and Sprout’s reporting tools, Orange Label has over ten years of experience in brand social media marketing and connecting brands with their target audiences. Learn more about our social media marketing offerings and tune into our upcoming podcast with Sprout Social Senior Market Research Manager, Mike Blight to find out the biggest challenge social media marketers are facing and exciting developments in the social media space. Sign up for our monthly podcast newsletter below to get it delivered straight to your inbox!

Written By: Michelle Komala

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