2018 Sprout Social Index

Realign and Redefine

What is Social ROI? Depending on who you talk to it’s a constant challenge, the latest buzzword or social’s holy grail. There are as many definitions as there are marketers but one thing is clear: social marketers need to define their impact and align their efforts to business goals.

To help, we asked more than 2,000 social marketers how they approach structure, goals and content and cross-referenced their efforts against what more than 1,200 consumers actually want.

Our latest and most comprehensive Sprout Social Index analyzes the results.

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From Attribution to Awareness

For years, marketers have tried to attribute social directly to sales, but industry standards and consumer data reveal that their true focus should be expanding awareness and consideration.

Think long-term, not quick fix. Think relationships, not attribution.

Relationships Over Attribution

With only 14% of marketers able to quantify revenue from social, direct attribution clearly isn’t working. So what is social’s true impact? In the long-term relationships it creates between brands and consumers. Social marketers across the board list awareness as their primary goal. Consumers are looking for more of this content from brands.

Tap Into Educational Content

Marketers’ priorities aren’t aligned with what consumers want. Marketers are focused on posts that teach (61%), tell a story (58%) and inspire (53%), while consumers are looking for discounts and sales (73%), posts that showcase new products and services (60%) and posts that teach them something (59%). The only overlap between top marketing priorities and consumer preferences is educational content.

Need for Real ROI Conversations

For all its importance and focus in the industry, social marketers aren’t getting to the meat of social ROI, especially with leadership. 3 in 5 social marketers aren’t having frequent conversations about ROI with their bosses. This can have lasting ramifications for organizations. Without alignment with leadership, strategy suffers, money is wasted and marketers are left focusing on the wrong metrics.

Actual Agreement

Consumers and marketers believe that social is the primary hub for customer service and employee advocacy.

Social Is a Hub for Care

Nearly half of consumers reach out to companies on social, and 90% of marketers understand the importance of customer service on social. Social networks are vital for customer care.

Employees: The New Influencers

3 in 5 consumers say they’re more interested in products recommended by friends on social. More than 70% of marketers use employees as advocates, or want to.

Bigger Team, Bigger Impact

Social customer care impacts brand perception and bottom line. 21 % of consumers are likelier to buy from brands they can reach on social, but half of marketers need a bigger team.

The Social Organization

As social has matured, so have team strategies and needs. Take a step back and ensure your team structure and strategy are aligned with the industry standard.

Rethinking Influencer Strategy

Nearly half of marketers think leveraging influencers is vital, but most don’t have the budget for it. With limited proof of whether influencer content resonates, should social marketers be focusing their efforts elsewhere?

Owning Social Spend

7 in 10 social marketers own both organic and paid social — not the media buyer. Social teams should pair their awareness and consideration content with paid for a cohesive social experience.

Valuing Video

3 out of 4 consumers share brand video content on social, and social marketers are well aware of video’s importance: 65% of social marketers list a dedicated video producer or graphic designer as their #1 necessary additional resource.

What Else You’ll Find in the Index

Breakdown of which networks consumers and marketers are using, and how.

The state of the social team, including structure, budgets and growth plans.

How social marketers share data and opportunities for organizational alignment.

The importance of video resources for authentic, produced content.

The Sprout Social Index Has Arrived.

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