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A Look At The Post-Pandemic Social Media Landscape

post-pandemic-social-media-landscape

What will the post-pandemic social media landscape look like? Is social media still critical for business? Do consumers expect your brand to be on social media sites?

We will explore all that and more in this post!

The State Of Social Media Investment

First, let’s talk digital transformation. As the next wave of social media innovation happens, many businesses risk being left behind.

The pandemic showed most of us how critical social media is for brand success. While we were in lockdown, businesses leveraged social channels to nurture consumers and keep business afloat.

However, social media is changing. It’s more than a communication channel. And as we move towards the post-pandemic social media landscape, executives are realizing that social media is driving business forward.

The Harris Poll, on behalf of Sprout Social, surveyed more than 1,000 US consumers and 250 business executives to better understand how they use social media and its impact on an organization. I encourage you to read The State of Social Media Investment.

Key points:

  • 91% of executives anticipate their company’s social media marketing budget will increase over the next three years, and the majority expect it will increase by more than 50%.
  • 85% of executives report that social data will be a primary source of business intelligence for their company moving forward.
  • 78% of consumers are more willing to buy from a brand and 77% will choose a brand over a competitor after a positive experience with a brand on social media.

Finally, as Gen Z comes into buying power, we must realize how reliant they are on social media to learn about brands.

It Starts (And Ends) On Social

Again, with Millennials and Gen Z on the rise, we must remember that social is the primary communication channel of choice. During the pandemic, the majority of consumers said their use of social media has grown.

From the report:

  • One in three consumers feel their use of social media will continue to rise.
  • Even Gen X and Baby Boomers say their social media usage has increased by 52% and 37%, respectively.
  • All age groups expect their social media use to increase in the next three years.

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Additionally, the report shows that at least one in four consumers use social media to discover, learn, purchase, or recommend products, services or brands.

And when it comes to other media outlets? Social media is beginning to overtake TV/radio and word of mouth as the most common way we learn about brands or companies.

In fact, in the post-pandemic social media landscape, social media is the preferred way consumers want to learn about new products, services, and brands.

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Social is also moving up the ranks for purchasing decisions. A look at the report shows the top four places for “level of influence” by information source to be

  • Customer reviews (85%)
  • Information on a company’s website (82%)
  • Advertising (e.g. TV, radio, streaming services) (71%)
  • Social media posts by friends or people I know (71%)

Social media brand posts (63%), advertisements (59%), and influencer posts (53%) all make the list, too.

Overall, the use of social media is clearly growing across all parts of the customer journey.

What The Post-Pandemic Social Media Landscape Means For Your Brand

Most importantly, consumers expect brands and companies to interact with them in a meaningful way on social media. They expect interactive experiences.

In the post-pandemic social media landscape, social media will become the main channel for brands and companies to reach their customers.

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All that said, let’s get into the nitty gritty. Most brands are still living in Social Media 101. This is where they think they’re doing a “good job” because they respond to mentions once a week, or day, or whatever frequency fits their liking.

That is reactive. It isn’t proactive; it’s not engaging or meaningful; you aren’t providing a personalized experience. And you certainly aren’t ready for the post-pandemic social media landscape!

There. I said it.

Proactive social media practices mean that consumers expect companies to read and analyze their posts and know them better based on their social media activity. At least one in two customers anticipate that, and it’s even more pronounced with Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X.

At B Squared Media, we’ve been stressing the importance of Customer Care for quite some time. And this is exactly what we’ve been trying to prepare you for. Customer social data is the lifeblood of any successful brand!

Guess what matters more — much more — than your interactive content on social media? The responsiveness of your social-first customer servicing.

Two out of three consumers attribute a high level of importance to responsive customer service when creating a positive brand experience.

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You’re Focused On The Wrong Social Experiences

Here’s how I know you probably aren’t prepared for the post-pandemic social media landscape. Most brands are focused on two priorities over the next three years …

  1. Increasing sales
  2. Growing their customer base

Moreover, less than half of the companies surveyed by Sprout (48%) say “engaging with customers” is a main goal or top priority.

Similarly, no more than 44% consider themselves “very confident” in their company’s social media strategy — especially when it comes to addressing the different generations.

And they’d be right …

“75% of consumers agree brands and companies need to better customize their social media marketing strategies to address the needs of different target audiences.”

But all you have to do to fix this problem is go back to the section above. Reread the part where I said: “Proactive social media practices mean that consumers expect companies to read and analyze their posts and know them better based on their social media activity. At least one in two customers anticipate that, and it’s even more pronounced with Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X.”

Brands just aren’t trying hard enough. The answer — in ABUNDANCE — is right in front of them.

Social Data For The Future (And Win)

According to Sprout’s report, about one in two business executives think social media will become the most important source of data and insights in the next three years.

At least half of us are getting it right! 😉

But seriously, most of us are starting to wake up to the idea of social data. This is highlighted in Sprout’s report.

“About one in two business executives think social media will become the most important source of data and insights in the next three years. Many more–85%–agree that social data will be a primary source of business intelligence going forward.”

Finally, social data can not only help you understand your customers better, but perhaps the bigger clue is that customers will expect social data to be used by brands. They want brands to better tailor content to their individual needs.

And it goes without saying, but we’ll say it again. (Yes, I already said it once in this post)

SOCIAL-FIRST CUSTOMER CARE WILL BE THE FUTURE OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS.

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As younger generations come into buying power, customer support functions will happen less and less through traditional channels, like phone and email.

Don’t get left behind.

Social media and social data will be how innovative companies and brands increase success with

  • Product
  • R&D
  • Sales
  • HR
  • Data Analytics
  • And more

If you are charged with finding opportunities in any of those areas, I highly suggest you not ignore the elephant in the room.

Are you ready for the post-pandemic social media landscape? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
Category: Social Media, Social Media Marketing
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