Social Media Isn’t Just an Ad Channel

With third-party data sources such as the cookie under threat, Apple downgrading the mobile identifier for advertisers, and data collection in general growing tougher, businesses increasingly need to find reliable, consensual data wherever they can get it. Social media is one of the solutions to that problem.

Eighty-five percent of business executives say social data will be a major source of business intelligence, according to an online Harris Poll commissioned by social marketing firm Sprout Social. Ninety-five percent said social data would help them power business initiatives, including those outside of marketing.

Some of the applications that social data will inform include sales (67%), customer service (61%), product (53%), research and development (48%) and human resources (43%). Of course, social data isn’t limited to relatively clandestine tracking on Facebook and TikTok. It also includes the sentiments consumers openly publish on those platforms, information about brands that social media users frequently and consensually share in the digital public sphere. The upshot is that social media as a business intelligence channel will likely only grow more important in the coming years.

Consumers care about personalization and social outreach

The Sprout Social poll also supports the idea, obviously popular among digital marketers, that consumers value personalization and want to hear from brands on social.

Sixty-one percent of the 1,000 consumers Harris polled said they want a more personalized experince based on previous interactions with a brand. Fifty-one percent even said they expect brands to “know them better” based on social activity. This was more pronounced among younger people.

In addition, 78% of consumers said they’re more likely to buy from a brand after a postiive experience with the brand on social. About the same percentage said a positive social experience would lead them to choose the brand over competitors.

Social use is on the rise

Facebook has had its difficulties with young people, but the social category as a whole remains strong with consumers, including the coveted younger cohorts.

Social use grew among 54% of consumers in the past year, a broad trend of higher digital engagement amid the pandemic. Thirty-four percent said they expect their social use will only grow in the next three years.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.