What does it mean to be a “market leader”?

You might say a market leader is a brand that moves fast and is known for innovation. A brand that creates best-in-class products that solve customer problems in a unique way. Or even a brand that goes beyond participating in culture, but actively defines and shapes the cultural conversation.

Market leaders aren’t just the businesses we buy from; they’re the brands we aspire to become.

And social media is what can turn those aspirations into reality.

At Sprout Social, we believe realizing the power of social starts with looking beyond the traditional marketing function that social has occupied for the last decade. Social is a valuable communications channel, but there’s more to social than the conversations brands have with customers.

The rich, real-time data that social media provides can influence what we make, how we make it and who we make it for. Insights from social don’t just make a brand—they make a business. And to take full advantage of what social media has to offer, business leaders need to start seeing social differently.

Dream bigger with social

Changing someone’s perspective is always a challenge—especially when we want that shift to lead to a change in behavior. To change the perception of social media, we need to go beyond marketing data and use it to surface business insights.

The messages people send to your brand reveal what they need and why they behave a certain way. But equally valuable is what they post when they aren’t speaking to you. These conversations provide insight into how people view your brand, your competitors and your industry. No other channel gives marketers such direct, immediate access to their target audience or paints such a clear picture of their unfiltered opinions.

Understanding this data offers huge upside to teams outside of marketing, from product development to sales to customer support. It gives businesses the cultural context they need to not only stay relevant, but to thrive in the kind of overnight transformation we saw in 2020. These insights are why brands from a Fortune 500 financial services company to an NBA team rely on Sprout to understand their audiences, create more valuable customer experiences and inspire brand advocacy.

Business intelligence, driven by social, eliminates the guesswork that comes with making strategic decisions. The ability to make those decisions with insight, confidence and immediacy is the hallmark of a market leader.

Democratize the power of social

All talk of social’s potential to transform a business is meaningless if marketers don’t have the tools to turn that talk into action.

At Sprout, we believe social sits at the center of the brand and customer relationship. It’s why we created a platform that enables businesses to recognize the value of social across the entire organization and increases visibility and collaboration across departments. It’s why we continue to enhance our listening and analytics tools to empower organizations to do more with their social data—to create better content, experiences and products for their business.

It’s also why we’re making investments to bring the value of social further into an organization. We want to enable everyone from the social media manager to the business analyst to the head of R&D to harness the social data they need to drive their business forward.

Businesses will only be able to create real, lasting connections with their customers when they see social as the go-to source for consumer, industry, cultural and competitive intelligence.

A shift in perspective

Earlier I asked you to think about what makes a leading brand. Regardless of the descriptors you used, the path forward remains the same: the best brands are built with the best data and insights. And social media has shaped what is possible when it comes to business intelligence.

Social is the source of data and insights that supports brands in managing, expanding and growing their business across every department. How brands use social is what will distinguish the market leader from those that simply follow.

The power of social is its power to transform a business. That starts with seeing social differently.

Social data empowers marketers to test their hypotheses, fine-tune their strategies and identify opportunities to better engage with their target audiences. Learn how marketers can leverages tools like social listening to go from making reactive business decisions to proactive ones with our guide on making data-driven predictions today.