Pivot, iterate, adapt. Marketers all around the world have had to embrace these actions as they learn about what’s next for their brands and careers.

And while the future is uncertain, there’s one thing we know to be true: we’re stronger when we work together. That sentiment is what our Sprout Sessions event series is all about.

We planned Sprout Sessions as a multi-city series of live events, but we too had to pivot, iterate and adapt. For 2020, Sprout Sessions became a digital event that we could organize remotely, and we couldn’t be happier with the results! More than 3,200 social marketers spent a full day connecting and learning from one another about the power of social data, trends and tactics to propel their strategies, and careers, forward.

Couldn’t attend the event? Keep reading for an exclusive look at our top 10 takeaways and how to access each session on demand for more learning. Or, find our on-demand videos here:

Watch Sprout Sessions 2020

1.   Approach limitation as an avenue for innovation

With the rise of social distancing and shelter in place laws, people are seeking out new ways to connect. Those who’ve been successful at facilitating this connection are able to view this limitation as an opportunity to get creative.

Speakers throughout the day, including Sprout’s CMO, Jamie Gilpin, and BCW’s SVP of Digital Innovation, Matt Kelly, agree that success comes from finding creative ways to differentiate your brand from the rest. Times of uncertainty provide room for innovation and it’s important to view your limitations, no matter how big or small, as challenges that can be worked through by finding other means to create connection.


2. Use social listening to better understand your audience

If you attended Sprout Sessions Digital, this takeaway will come as no surprise. Session after session we heard first-hand from brands about the critical role social listening plays in informing your strategy. While many businesses have closed their physical doors to the public, there’s one door that remains open: social media.

While monitoring is a great way to keep track of mentions and messages to your brand, social listening allows you to go one step further by keeping a pulse on the broader conversations at hand. Understanding how people feel about your product, service or industry allows you to stay ahead of trends and give your audiences what they need before they have to ask for it.

Solutions Engineer, Jill Florence, led us through a master class to explore how social listening can help brands adapt to today’s climate, measure success and respond to their audiences with agility. The biggest takeaway from her session is to remember that listening is an iterative process. As our world continues to change, so should your listening queries. Revisit your topics often and refine them to help you understand what worked before, what is working today and what will work next.

3. Find the story in the data and share it far and wide

Director of Marketing Technology at VERB Interactive, Erin Fitzgerald, said it best:

Spending time analyzing numbers does not make you a data-driven company, but rather, making decisions based on the data and sharing those insights internally does.
Erin Fitzgerald
Director of Marketing Technology, VERB Interactive

No matter what industry you’re in, social data is a valuable resource that can inform multiple parts of your business, from sales to customer service to research and development. As you analyze your data, work to uncover the story the numbers are telling you and share those insights across your organization. Our biggest takeaway here is two-fold: align with leadership on which metrics matter to define success, and always prepare your reports as if they’ll be forwarded to the C-suite.

4. Test your strategy & iterate frequently

There’s no time like the present to take a quick inventory of how your social strategy is performing! As people’s feelings and behaviors change by the day, social media testing is an essential step to ensuring your content is hitting the right mark. With so many variables to test, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. With so much data at your fingertips, our top takeaway here is to start small and scale your efforts from there.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and test out new ideas, whether that’s testing the use of emojis or different CTAs. Above all, foster an environment that allows for free-flowing ideas. Be open to the results (even if they’re not what you expected) to inform your tactics further or pivot entirely.

5. Be an observer of the world

As a social professional, you’re on the front lines for your brand, interacting every day with customers and new audiences alike. It’s your job to be the voice of your brand while providing timely and relevant information to your audience, which often requires you to be well-rounded on topics that may or may not directly relate to your industry. Immersing yourself in content from different brands, media outlets and platforms will give you fresh inspiration for your own brand’s strategy. It will also highlight new skills your team can build in order to tell stories more creatively on social.

This especially rings true for smaller social teams of one or two people. In fact, prAna’s Social Media Lead, Brittany Sheppard, attributes her team’s success to their ability to adapt and learn new skills quickly, such as learning how to operate a camera or use video editing software. Our takeaway here is to observe the world around you and identify skills that will help take your team’s efforts up a notch.

6. Tap the authenticity of live video

The demand for video has skyrocketed. According to data from the Sprout Social Index™, 66% of consumers prefer to engage with video content, and multiple speakers throughout the day noted that live video is what their audiences want most.

Known for their viral penguin videos, Shedd Aquarium has used video content to help take people out of their living rooms and into an experience that closely mimics being at the actual museum.

“The shift to raw video is one that is here to stay,” said their Social Media and Content Manager, Carly Hill. “One thing we’ve seen through all of this is that people are expressing gratitude for how our videos are helping them get through the day. We’ll continue to use video to give our audience the educational content they want even as things start to normalize again.”

Our biggest takeaway here is make do with what you have—you don’t need a full production team to create videos that provide value and inspire people to take action.

7.  Optimize your strategy for digital

Our new world has highlighted the important role social plays in a brand’s success, not only in marketing but across the entire customer journey. Delivery services and online shopping portals are consumers’ new normal—and that’s what they will expect from brands even after businesses are fully open again. We’ve seen just how quickly buyer behavior can transform, and brands should expect to see this change stick around for the long run.

Businesses from all industries, not just food services or consumer goods, should anticipate a demand for online services from here on out. Ensure every touchpoint with your brand is exceptional in order to stand out as a true differentiator in what Dakota Kendall, Social Media Marketing Manager at Humm Kombucha, calls the “sea of sameness.”

8. Prioritize customer care

In order to provide exceptional customer experience, you must equip your customer-facing teams with the tools and resources they need to handle all inbound inquiries. After all, 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours.

As more people turn to social for answers, teams will need to be structured and staffed to respond in a timely and empathetic manner. Use your social channels to provide ongoing support and help customers navigate any less than optimal experiences. During a time when so much is uncertain, our response and how we treat our customers is one thing we can control.

9. Double-down on your value

As the world works to regain control of the economy, unemployment is increasing and people are more value conscious than ever before. As marketers, we must embrace that consumer pressure on value is going to be a permanent expectation.

There are all these opportunities for brands to inform and support their audiences as long as they’re leaning on messages that are empathic, socially responsible and thoughtful.
Stephanie Prager
Head of Global Business Partners, Twitter

Where can your brand provide the most value in our current situation and how will you continue that momentum in the long term? Asking these questions allows you to thoughtfully plan for what’s next while addressing how you can support your audience today. Prioritize relevant content and use social data to understand what your audience needs, and if your brand has a place to chime in on the conversation.


10. Humanize your brand

Now more than ever, brands need to demonstrate their human sides. The way you support your customers to help ease their challenges right now will make a memorable impact. Even if you aren’t quite sure what to say, be open to the idea of joining conversations with your community to drive connection and illustrate your compassion.

At the end of the day, we’re all trying our best to do our jobs and balance our personal lives. Attaching that lens of empathy on everything you do will help you push through, make the lives of your customers a little brighter and create long-term loyalty.

We hope you enjoyed this look at the takeaways from Sprout Sessions Digital 2020, and we encourage you to share what you think with us on social! If you’re a Sprout Social customer, you can access recordings of each session in the Learning Portal. Or, register to watch recordings of the sessions below:

Watch Sprout Sessions 2020

Not a customer but hungry for more? Start a free trial.