The State of Social 2020: Need-to-know stats from Sprout Social’s latest social index

For most industries, social media is now a super-saturated space, so having the right knowledge up your sleeve can help you make sure you’re getting in front of the right people at the right time. That’s where these findings from Sprout Social come in.

Each year, Sprout Social surveys more than 1000 social marketers to get insight into their goals for social, the metrics they use to measure performance, and how they put that data to use. They also canvas 1000 consumers to get an understanding of how they behave online and their expectations of brands when it comes to content. When this data is cross referenced, we’re able to get a clear picture on how brands can best meet the ever-evolving wants and needs of their audience.

If you want to check out the full report, download it here. Otherwise we’ve pulled together some of the most significant stats below.

Let’s dig into it.

Why social media marketing matters

The survey showed that 89% of consumers say they will buy from a brand they follow on social media and 84% will choose that brand over a competitor. Additionally, 75% of consumers say they’ll increase their spending with brands they follow on social.

It’s not surprising then, that 69% of social marketers say increasing brand awareness is their number one goal for social media. Fifty-two percent say increasing web traffic is their top priority, while 46% say growing their audience is their number one goal.

Where is your audience hanging out?

Facebook and Twitter still reign supreme, but younger audiences are influencing a shift towards platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. TikTok has seemingly had a surge in popularity with Gen Z, however it still lags when it comes to brands actually having a strategy around marketing on the platform and remains one of the least used platforms in general.

Digging into data

Putting those platforms to good use means getting a really clear understanding of who your audience is, what kind of content hits the mark with them, and what kind of content they are keen to see more of. It seems the majority of social marketers (56%) are leveraging data insights to get to know their audience better, but surprisingly, only 23% are using data to measure ROI and even fewer - 16% - are using data for competitive insights. There is opportunity here for social marketers to better measure the impact and influence of social marketing efforts on wider business goals, and provide valuable insight around product development and sales strategy. Mary (The Social Shop MD), has also talked about this previously in an article about getting buy-in from your leadership team.

Get strategic with content

In a crowded social landscape, knowing what kind of content to post, and when it’s going to have the most impact is what is going to get you cut-through. 

Half of consumers say they’re most likely to use social media during a major personal milestone (wedding, birthday, vacation) and 45% say they’re on social media during a sporting event. But be smart with the stats below. While your audience might be online at times of natural disasters, they are less interested in seeing branded content appear in their feeds!

So, what content do they actually want to see?

For the most part, consumers will follow a brand in order to stay up to date with the latest on products, services and company news, as well as learn about promotions and deals. On the flip side, consumers will unfollow a brand because of poor quality of product or support (49%) and poor customer service (49%).

Serve up what they want to see

Once again, turning to your social data will give you a better idea of what kind of content your audience enjoys consuming. Keep your feed interesting by mixing it up, but have these numbers in mind when it comes to creating content that has the most impact.

What makes you stand out?

Whatever posts you create, consumers are looking for creative, memorable content - and the stats suggest that marketers are on the same page.

When asked what differentiates brands from their competitors on social media, 61% of consumers believe brands that engage with their audience are best in class. But while marketers prioritise memorable content (46%) and compelling storytelling (45%), consumers are more focused on transparency (45%) and strong customer service (44%). So, a focus on transparency and responsiveness could be what moves the needle to set you apart from other brands online.

What’s ahead for 2020?

It’s likely no surprise that stories and video content leads as trending content for 2020. After all, half of Instagram’s one billion users use Instagram Stories every day. So, if you haven’t got a strategy for using stories yet, you need one! Video content is engaging and easily digestible, and a great way to educate your audience in an entertaining way.

Boost your business impact

For social media marketers themselves, there is no time to stand still. Continuing to learn, upskill and stay focused on professional goals is important. Garnering greater internal support remains a big challenge for social marketers (42% of practitioners say they need more leadership buy-in to make a greater business impact through social—but only 39% say they have it). For this reason, having the skills to really demonstrate how social is driving business growth and supporting business goals is important for influencing internal support.

In summary

If there’s one thing you can take from this report, it’s that it all comes back to data. Unlike some other forms of marketing, social has the benefit of serving up specific, insightful metrics. Social marketers who are paying close attention to the insights they have access to will be the ones who have a better picture of who their customers are and what content their customers want to see, and therefore have the opportunity to have real impact with the content they create. More than that though, knowing how to leverage data insights is a way to demonstrate real, tangible impact on wider business goals and the value of social media marketing to your organisation. With buy-in from your leadership team, you’re better positioned for more investment, resource and influence within the business. Put your focus on understanding, leveraging and reporting data from your social accounts - if this something you need a hand getting your head around, we can help. Keen to know more? Get in touch, and let’s chat!