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Social Media Engagement Spells Good News for Brands

The power of social media can’t be overstated. Along with keeping us informed and entertained during the global pandemic, a new Sprout Social study reveals that brands who successfully connect with consumers on social platforms see those customers spending more and developing a loyalty to that brand. In fact, nine out of ten shoppers are shown to buy products from companies they follow on social sites. Roughly 75 percent of consumers will boost their spending with a brand to which they’re loyal, up from 12 percent last year. Here are a few ways marketers can develop strong social strategies to accelerate business growth and turn casual browsers into devoted fans.

Make It Visual
Platforms that rely on video and social sharing tend to snare the hearts of younger demographics. When asked by Sprout Social which sites they’ll frequent more often, 73 percent of Gen Z responders chose Instagram, while 63 percent gravitated toward YouTube. eMarketer projects that Instagram will enjoy the largest uptick in user time this year, with daily engagement up nearly 14 percent for a total of 30 minutes per person each day. That’s due in large part to video-streaming features like Instagram Live and Stories. In the days of coronavirus, influencers, creators and celebrities are employing those tools to emphasize official health-related messages and demonstrate innovative ways of staying safe and sane while following shelter-in-place orders. Prior to the start of Covid-19, Snapchat was already gaining followers with its Discover feature that lets users view content from news sources and brands. Now, daily time spent on the platform is expected to grow 12 percent as lockdown consumers use the app’s video-calling feature to communicate with friends and family, or watch unique programming on Snap Originals.

Get Engaged
When seeking to engage with consumers via social media, it’s essential to hit on the qualities they deem most important. 61 percent of Sprout Social respondents cited audience engagement as the leading characteristic that helps a brand stand out. Transparency came next in order of importance (45 percent), followed by vigorous attention to customer service (44 percent). Brands today have increasingly altered their social media messaging in order to strike the right tone when interacting with consumers affected by the coronavirus. As early as mid-March, videos and images of people washing hands and faces surged by 600 percent. The face-mask emoji was suddenly seen everywhere, while cleanliness imagery tripled (think posts of consumers using tissues for sanitizing, sneezing, coughing) as brands tweaked marketing campaigns in response to growing public concerns. By mid-April, the vibe had shifted. Brands like Coke and Walmart were devoting full Twitter feeds to promoting their nonprofit partners and thanking frontline workers. As new patterns emerge, the key will be to craft responses that resonate with followers’ sentiments while transparently acknowledging current realities.

Don’t Hesitate
Along with hooking audiences through the curation of on-point content, brands should meet consumers’ needs by providing timely responses. Forty percent of consumer respondents in Sprout Social’s study say they expect feedback from a company within their first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79 percent want a reply within 24 hours. Looking back, similar lessons can be learned from Hershey and Coors, two brands that abruptly halted planned advertising campaigns during the early days of Covid-19, after successfully taking audience temperatures and responding accordingly. Hershey’s ads featured strangers hugging and shaking hands upon receiving candy, while Coors’ “Official Beer of Working Remotely” spot made light of a practice the world quickly came to regard as serious when stringent quarantine measures were put in place. By pivoting quickly in response to the pandemic, both brands avoided backlash and gained consumer respect.

More time at home equals increased social media usage. In the US, consumers are expected to spend an average of 1 hour and 22 minutes per day scrolling sites, up seven minutes since last year. That spells good news for marketers who can find new ways of connecting with consumers via various platforms.