Investment in social media is ‘critical for long-term success’

Social media apps on a smartphone.

Investment in social media is ‘critical for long-term success’ Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

80% of business leaders anticipate their company’s social media budget to increase over the next three years as 93% agree social media data and insights will be a primary source of business intelligence moving forward.

This is according to new research from Sprout Social, a provider of social media management software, conducted by The Harris Poll.

The report, The 2023 State of Social Media: AI & Data Take Center Stage, shows nearly every executive understands the value of social media data in informing key business decisions across an organisation. Among those who anticipate an increase in social media budget in the next three years, more than one in four (44%) expect their social media budget to increase by more than 50%, despite macroeconomic trends putting pressure on organisation-wide budgets.

The Harris Poll, on behalf of Sprout Social, surveyed 778 U.S. and U.K. business leaders in marketing, customer care and communications, and found that 90% agree their company’s success will depend on how effectively it can use social media data and insights to inform business strategy—and they’re turning to AI to help. In fact, virtually every business leader surveyed (97%) believes AI and ML tools will enable companies to analyze social media data more efficiently, and 87% anticipate increases to their company’s AI/ML investments in the next three years in response. Furthermore, the majority believe that more effectively leveraging social data (58%) and investing in emerging technologies to create efficient workflows (59%) will give their companies a competitive advantage moving forward.

Jamie Gilpin, CMO of Sprout Social, said: “It’s encouraging to see the extent to which business leaders now understand social’s ability to influence every aspect of their organisation, and the resulting investments being made in social will catapult brands into their next phase of growth.

“With frontline access to the most impactful data and insights available, marketers have the opportunity to not only educate their organisations, but to drive foundational change. By giving every department access to the latest social intelligence, marketers can lead their business strategies while ensuring their organisation stays ahead of the competition.”

Other notable highlights from the report include:

  • AI’s potential in business and marketing is clear: 86% of business leaders agree the implementation of AI and ML is critical for long-term success, citing behavioral segmentation (49%), predictive analytics (45%), dynamic pricing (45%), and sentiment analysis (44%) among the most useful applications of AI/ML for marketing.
  • Business leaders are increasingly using social data in a variety of ways and still think it’s being underutilised: While 70% of business leaders agree it’s easy to demonstrate social media’s impact on their company’s bottom line, a similar proportion (69%) also agree that social media data and insights are currently underutilised at their company. Currently, business leaders indicate that customer service (62%), brand awareness (60%), and market or industry insights (53%) are the top three aspects of their company’s business strategy informed by social media data and insights.
  • Social media is the channel for customer care: The majority of business leaders agree that social media is critical for both delivering exceptional customer care (88%) and for customer retention (88%), and 96% say it’s integral for capturing customer sentiment and feedback about products or services. Nearly every business leader surveyed (96%) expects social data to be integrated into the company’s customer relationship management capabilities in the next three years, and 93% believe increased investment in AI/ML will be crucial for scaling customer care functions in that time.
  • Social media management software has become a crucial component of the corporate technology stack: Roughly 7 in 10 business leaders (69%) report their company currently uses social media management (SMM) software, with 88% agreeing that it’s a critical tool in their company’s technology solutions. For those that use SMM software, 74% use customer engagement features, about 6 in 10 use social commerce (63%) and social listening features (62%), and around half use employee advocacy (55%), analytics (53%), and publishing and scheduling features (52%).

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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