If you aren’t investing in social media for your brand, you risk getting left behind. According to new research by Sprout Social, one in three consumers use social media to learn about or discover new products, services or brands. Additionally, one in four also use social media to purchase products.
2020 was undoubtedly a year of rapid change. The pandemic altered our way of living and consumers adapted by flocking to online and digital channels to engage and interact with family, friends and brands. Social media was no exception with one in three consumers saying their social media use has increased. This was most evident with Gen Z and millennials.
Consumers not only increased their use of social media in general, they also increased their use of social channels for interacting with brands.
Compared to a year ago, social media increased by:
- 43% – Discovering new products, services, brands
- 42% – Learning about products, services, brands
- 36% – Purchasing products, services, brands
Marketing on Social Media
With social media so tightly ingrained into our everyday lives, brands simply must invest in having a robust social presence. In fact, according to Social Sprout’s research, 89% of business executives think it is very important or absolutely essential for their company to invest additional resources in social media marketing. And consumers agree. Consumers want to see their favorite brands on social, with 62% agreeing that brands and companies who do not have a strong social media presence will not be able to succeed in the long run.
The good new is that budgets are expected to keep up with these expectations. In fact, 91% of those surveyed report that their company’s social media marketing budget will increase over the following three years.
How do Consumers Use Social Media Today?
Consumers use social media for any numbers of reasons, the most popular being to communicate with friends, family and acquaintances for 68% of consumers. Other reasons include:
- 54% – To kill time
- 39% – To get breaking news
- 34% – For personal inspiration
- 31% – To learn about new trends
- 30% – To network
- 28% – To experience different point of view
Beyond this, a surprisingly large percentage of consumers use social networks to engage with brands. Approximately one in three (34%) use social media to learn about or discover new products, services or brands.
For one in three consumers, social media is actually the preferred way to learn about brands or companies.
Currently, social media is one of the three most common ways to learn about brands or companies, almost as popular as TV or radio ads. Not surprising, this was especially true for 78% of Gen Z and 61% of Millennials.
Once a consumers learns about a brand or company, social continues to play a role in influencing the purchase decision. Customers reviews were rated highly as being very or somewhat influential by 85% of consumers. This was followed by information on a company’s website for 82% of those surveyed. However, at number three, 71% of consumers ranked social media as being very or somewhat influential in the purchase decision. This was tied with advertisements, also at 71%.
Social Media and Brand Engagement
68% of consumers appreciate the opportunity to engage with brands and companies on social media. How do consumers engage with brands on social sites? The most common action (45%) is to “Like” posts from a brand’s or company’s social media accounts. This is followed by:
- 43% – “Follow” a brand or company
- 32% – Leave a review of a product or service
- 23% – Share brand or company-related content
- 21% – Report issues with products or services
- 20% – Private message or DM a brand or company
- 20% – Follow an influencer who is a brand ambassador
- 18% – Tag a brand or company in my posts
Consumers clearly see social media as a primary way to learn about, engage and purchase from brands, a trend which has been rapidly accelerated this past year.
- 80% of consumers expect brands and companies that have a social media presence to interact with their customers in meaningful ways.
- 63% of consumers expect brands to use social media as a main communications channel to reach out to their customers
- 58% of consumers find it more engaging to connect with a brand or company on social media than to visit a physical store
- 90% of businesses agree creating interactive experiences for customers through social media is critical for my company’s success
We have seen rapid transformation among multiple digital outlets and channels as a result of the pandemic. Brands are getting their email channels in order, are enhancing new online experiences and implementing ecommerce technologies. However, just as important, social channels must not be neglected as consumers head online to engage with brands on social platforms.
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