There is no questioning the value of social media. Social is a venerable powerhouse, supporting nearly every marketing objective from brand awareness to advocacy over the past decade. And this value forces social teams to think more critically about their integrated marketing strategies as a whole.

To understand the full potential of social and how it can provide the most value to brands, we went right to the source. For this Index, we surveyed more than 1,000 social marketers about their social goals, challenges and expectations, and we cross-referenced their responses with those of more than 1,000 consumers to understand what people really want from brands on social.

Seventy percent of social marketers say their biggest goal with social is to increase awareness, and more than half (59%) use social to support their sales and lead generation objectives. Other goals include increasing community engagement and growing brand audiences, making social an incredibly rich marketing channel. But with such a versatile resource at their disposal, marketers can find it challenging to prioritize their goals and hone their focus.

Social also remains the optimal channel for marketers to achieve their lofty goals. In the last six months alone, 44% of consumers reported an increase in their personal use of social media platforms. That increased social usage bodes well for marketers seeking to drive their social audience further down the purchasing funnel: when consumers follow a brand on social, 87% say they are likely to visit that brand’s website or app.

Despite the potential of social, marketers still struggle to fully embrace its effectiveness. Forty-seven percent of marketers say developing social strategies that support overall business goals is their number one challenge. And 22% of marketing leaders worry their brand’s social strategy is ineffective.

While 71% of all social marketers agree they are able to provide helpful insights to teams outside of their departments, only 12% of social teams say their primary function is to provide business insights for their entire organization. At a time when social is more accessible than ever before, its value is still downplayed because of the historical disconnect between social and bottomline business metrics. The time is now for marketers to learn how to effectively communicate the significance of social data, elevate their strategies to serve larger business goals and secure a seat at the table for social teams.

In the latest Sprout Social Index, we explore how social marketers can refine their goals and improve social performance by tapping into consumer insights and rising trends. We’ll dig into the challenges holding social teams back from reaching their fullest potential and uncover how marketers can demonstrate the value of social beyond the marketing department. Empowered with these insights, marketers can expand social’s influence through the entire organization and even demonstrate how social data positively influences business growth.