The majority (89%) of executives are confident in their current social media strategy’s ability to provide interactive experiences with followers. This is per a report [download page] from Sprout Social, which examines how companies are using social media today and how they expect to use it more in the future.
Close to three-quarters (72%) of the US business executives surveyed – all of whom are involved in decisions about social media at their companies – say they are currently using social media for customer engagement. They are also using social media for sales (68%), brand awareness (67%) and market insights (65%).
Some 6 in 10 (61%) say they are using social for lead generation. However, earlier research shows that marketers are split in their overall level of satisfaction with the quality and volume of leads generated from social media.
That said, the majority of executives believe that their current social media strategy is effective in other areas such as strengthening brand image (94%), engaging with customers (93%) and increasing sales (91%).
Customer Service via Social
One aspect where businesses plan to use social media to a greater degree in the near future is customer service. Some 3 in 5 respondents are currently using social for customer service, while two-thirds (67%) anticipate using it for this reason to a greater extent in the next three years. In fact, about 9 in 10 executives strongly (46%) or somewhat (43%) agree that social media will become the primary channel for customer service.
From the customers’ point of view, previous data from Social Sprout found that three-quarters (74%) of consumers say that when they follow a brand on social media they do so in order to reach out for customer service or support. Furthermore, two-thirds (67%) of consumers surveyed for this recent report believe that responsive customer service is absolutely essential or very important in creating a positive experience with a brand or company on social media.
Sprout Social also found that 44% of consumers have contacted a company’s customer service via social media either by sending a private message or posting publicly. With social media use generally strongest among younger generations across most platforms, it’s not surprising to see that Gen Z (58%) and Millennials (60%) are more likely than Gen X (37%) and Baby Boomers (21%) to have reached out for customer service through social media.
Overall, the top reasons consumers give for reaching out to companies on social media is to ask questions about a product/service (56%) or to receive a quick response to a customer service issue, with about three-quarters (77%) expecting a response in less than 24 hours.
Social Media Data
Lastly, 7 in 10 (72% of) executives say their company uses data and insights from social media to inform business decisions. That’s more than say the same about data from market research (61%) or product data (51%).
Another 85% agree that, going forward, social media data will be a primary source of business intelligence, with half (51%) believing that social media will be the most important source of data and insights in making these decisions in the next three years.
The full report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Business data is based on a survey of 250 US business executives, while customer data is based on a survey of 1,006 US adults (ages 18-74).