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The state of social media 2023: Business leaders weigh in on what’s next

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It’s been two years since we last partnered with The Harris Poll to understand how leaders view the state of social media and its impact on an organization. At that time, social as a channel and profession was undergoing a major evolution. Today, it’s clear that constant change is simply a part of the job.

Emerging technologies, rising consumer expectations and a shifting social media marketing landscape have left many with questions on how to navigate this changing terrain. To provide brands with a roadmap for success, we’re launching a new study that sheds light on how business leaders view social’s role within their organization.

Our latest partnership with The Harris Poll surveyed more than 700 business decision-makers across the US and UK for an updated look at the current state of social media—so you can stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition.

Investing in social is an investment in business success

It has never been easier to reach your target consumer. As a result, it’s never been harder to stand out.

Audiences are flooded with round-the-clock advertising messages and this near-constant exposure has created an ua-competitive environment for businesses across industries. Attention-grabbing content is no longer enough. To make a lasting impact on your target consumer, you need to earn their trust.

Business leaders are already sensing this shift. In fact, building brand reputation and loyalty is the #1 priority in the current economic environment. Business leaders also near-unanimously agree on the role social plays in their organization’s longevity, with 96% saying that businesses must continue to invest in social media to be successful.

Thanks to a combination of opportunity and necessity, social media has become the go-to channel for establishing and building a brand reputation. It’s a marketer’s playground, consistently offering new avenues for experimentation and connection. But on social, audiences can control the conversation around a brand just as much—if not more—than the brand itself.

You can’t reap the full loyalty-building benefits without prioritizing relationships and closely listening to what your audience is saying. Over the next three years, business leaders will equip their social teams with tools and personnel needed to capitalize on every opportunity. In fact, 4 in 10 expect their social media budget will increase by at least 50% in the next three years.

Data is money, and businesses are leaving it on the table

Businesses eagerly await the trove of audience insights that further investment in social media will bring. Many realize this is the information that can make or break a brand, with 90% agreeing that their company’s success will depend on how effectively they can use social media data.

However, realizing this future vision will require leaders to tackle some significant present day issues. Nearly 7 in 10 leaders agree that social data is currently underutilized within their organization.

The top challenges that prevent businesses from capitalizing on today’s social data include limited access to social media data tools, lack of integration with other tech solutions and lack of time needed to analyze social media data and insights.

If businesses want to embed the value of social throughout an organization, they need to make infrastructure investments that feed social data throughout their tech stack. An integrated, intuitive social media management solution is the bedrock of a successful social media strategy.

AI isn’t coming for your job, it’s coming for your outdated processes

Headlines on AI’s capabilities are published daily, keeping it top of mind for business leaders across industries. Nearly 9 in 10 expect their companies to increase investment in AI technology for marketing over the next three years.

This technology won’t replace the skilled social marketers pushing your business forward today. Instead, it will give them time to redirect toward strategy and analysis.

Business leaders believe investing in emerging technologies like AI will create more efficient workloads, tailor social media strategies to evolving consumer needs and allow them to leverage social media data more effectively. These are more than just process refinements. They’re the springboard that will launch you toward long term success.

As with any emerging technology, there will be hurdles to clear as you embed AI into existing workflows. Leaders recognize that this new era of marketing comes with an organizational learning curve. Implementing AI will require training and resources that set your team up for minimal confusion and maximum success.

It’s time to dissolve the lines between marketing and customer care

Social is the through line that connects current and future customers. It’s where those considering your brand can see first-hand how you treat and interact with those who have chosen your brand.

More than three-quarters (88%) of business leaders agree that social data and insights are critical to delivering exceptional customer care and supporting customer retention.

Leaders cite customer service as the #1 area currently informed by social media data and plan on using it to support the function to a greater degree over the next three years. Despite this ongoing partnership, 71% agree that most companies lack a strong social customer care strategy.

This gap should raise a red flag for leaders everywhere. In the coming years, having a “strong” approach to customer care won’t be enough. It needs to be exceptional.

Rapid developments in technology lead to rapid developments in consumer expectations. We’re at an inflection point that will reveal which brands will set the standard for the years to come. The advent of AI isn’t just an opportunity to refine existing processes—it’s an opportunity to create innovative customer experiences.

Get new insights on the state of social media

Change is scary, but it can also be an opportunity. Make no mistake, the current state of social media is exciting. Additional investments in social teams and tools will do more than just build stronger social strategies. It will catapult brands into their next phase of growth.

For more findings on how business leaders plan to embed social insights throughout their organizations, download The 2023 State of Social Media Report today.

Download the Report

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