Consumers lean on a number of factors when they are looking for new accounts to follow or like on social media. A new report [download page] from Sprout Social shows that many are influenced by suggestions in their feed or by the use of discovery tools (45%), while others follow the recommendations of family and friends (40%).
In their search for new accounts to follow, consumers also look for brands they admire (39%) or brands they shop with offline (34%), with others exploring accounts that are mentioned by influencers they like (35%) or by listening to word-of-mouth. Interestingly, one-quarter (25%) of consumers are finding new accounts to follow through hashtags.
Why Do Consumers Follow Brands on Social?
Just as consumers have several ways of finding accounts to follow, they also have an array of reasons for following brands on social media. One of the most popular reasons is to learn about new products and services (57%), while another is to stay up to date on company news (47%).
Consumers also follow brands on social media in order to learn about promotions or discounts (40%), to be entertained (40%), to be educated (34%) and to be inspired (32%). And, while about one-third (32%) say they follow a brand to connect with people similar to themselves, fewer are interested in following a brand in order to connect with people who are different to them (18%).
Communicating with Brands on Social
About one-fifth (21%) of consumers say they follow a brand on social media in order to communicate with the brand. In fact, a majority of consumers say that when they follow a brand, they reach out for customer service or support (74%).
Although nearly two-fifths (37%) say they message a brand on social media due to customer service issues, brand marketers will be happy to hear it’s not the main reason consumers are messaging them. Instead, 6 in 10 are messaging brands after a great experience.
It should be noted that even if the messages received from consumers are positive in nature, brands should respond to all feedback, as it not only inspires customer loyalty, but can also result in positive customer recommendations, especially among Millennials.
Engaging with Consumers
In terms of broader engagement, 71% of consumers say they engage with a brand on social media after following it. The report found that more consumers are interested in engaging with images (68%) than they are with videos (50%). That said, other research focusing specifically on Instagram found that videos on the platform received 49% more interactions (likes or comments) than images.
Consumers also cite text-based posts (30%), Stories (26%) and polls (26%) as types of content they want to engage with. Another 22% say they want to engage with live video, a channel that a majority of social media marketers aren’t using this year despite many marketers reporting it as something they are planning to try out.
Separately, the report details events around which consumers tend to be active with their social media accounts. Among those, the study finds that people are most likely to use social media during personal milestones (50%), sporting events (45%), natural disasters (42%) and holidays (42%). And, while some 54% say they are happy for brands to post during sporting events, brands might refrain from posting during natural disasters, as only 14% say they welcome brand posts during that kind of event.
To read more, the full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,028 consumers, fielded in early March 2020.