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Social media success is driven by great customer service, not creative content

The 2021 Sprout Social Index UK & Ireland Edition reveals consumers prefer the delivery of first-class customer service and social commerce over trends, pop culture and memes

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Social media success is driven by great customer service, not creative content

"Customer service and social commerce are more important to consumers than creative content, and when marketers stay focused on these priorities, business growth is likely to follow"
Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social

UK businesses have endured unprecedented levels of anxiety over the last 18 months and many have turned to social media to stay connected to their customers and keep the business going. As a result, British marketers are under increasing pressure.  Insights from a new Index report have indicated that by putting customer service over creative content, a marketer’s role could be less stressful and more successful.

The 2021 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition provides a timely snapshot at how successful businesses have been connecting, engaging and selling to potential customers on social media.  It indicates how aligned businesses’ social strategies are with customer expectations – and the results might come as a surprise to many overworked marketers. 

The Index reveals a striking misalignment between marketers and consumers with regard to what they want to achieve on social media.  Many marketers it seems are putting undue pressure on themselves to deliver trends, pop culture and memes, whilst consumers care most about brands that put the customer first. If businesses simply focus on what their customers want - namely the delivery of first-class customer service and social commerce - then they could achieve greater success on social media. 

Sprout Social is a leading provider of social media analytics, engagement and advocacy. They surveyed 500 UK and Irish marketers and 500 consumers for their annual report.  It comes after businesses flocked to social media in droves to stay connected with consumers during lockdown – a good move considering the report found 76% of consumers have used social media more in the past year and 63% have purchased on it. 

However, the report delves much deeper than that and its key findings can guide marketers in the right direction – hopefully with less stress.

Key findings:

●        Marketers’ expectations of what it means to be best-in-class differ from customer expectations. For many, it appears that marketers are putting themselves under more pressure by trying to be all things to all people.  Delivering innovative social content and being culturally relevant are the top two qualities marketers list as what makes a brand best-in-class, while in contrast, consumers rank brands putting the customer first as their top attribute.


●        Marketers are missing potentially huge social commerce opportunities. Over the past year 63% of people  bought something via social media, demonstrating a growing confidence in shopping on a social platform. However, only 17% of marketers listed driving revenue as a business goal on social media.


●        Customer service on social matters most to consumers. Marketers ranked brand awareness as the main social media goal of 65% of British and Irish businesses, but only 30% of them thought social media was to contribute to their goal of providing customer service and support. And yet, when consumers were asked what businesses could do on social media to keep them from buying from them over their competitors, they said customer service is what matters – timely response to service enquiries and demonstrating and understanding of their needs.  It is clear they care more about service and their needs go beyond just consuming content.


●        With customer service in mind, cross-team collaboration is essential.  For the majority of businesses, social media is still considered primarily a marketing function, yet many teams are still working in silos. Cross-team collaboration is essential, but few organisations are committed to an integrated social programme across departments and 71% of respondents said this was either only occasional or non-existent.


●        Businesses understand the why of social, but not the how. Marketers are aware of the importance of social media and have invested more time into getting onto multiple and new platforms. However, most businesses are still figuring out how to get the most out of these platforms and successfully build communities there.

Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social comments: “The misalignment between businesses priorities and consumer expectations on social media have added to what has been an unbelievably hard 12 months for marketers, who have tried to be all things to all people. Our Index shows that customer service and social commerce are more important to consumers than creative content, and when marketers stay focused on these priorities, business growth and less complicated work are likely to follow.”

The 29-page 2021 Sprout Social Index™: UK & Ireland Edition explores how marketers can find the audiences they want, what consumers really expect from businesses on social and how to use data to be a proactive leader in the marketing space. The full report can be downloaded from the Sprout Social website. 



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