Social media channels offer the best opportunity to connect brands with consumers, according to new research by Sprout Social based on the responses of over 1,000 US consumers.
TV and radio ranked second, whilst social ads scored lowest for brand-consumer connections.
Trust is a key aspect when it comes to successfully connecting with brands (66%), followed by aligning with a brand’s values (53%).
The majority of respondents (91%) believe that social channels can connect people whilst 78% also expect brands to help people connect with each other.
The survey findings highlight that brands should prioritise their customer relationships as customers who feel connected are more brand-loyal. Indeed, 76% are more likely to shop with a brand over a competitor, 57% spend more with a brand they feel aligned to, and 68% would recommend a brand.
So how can brands go about strengthening their social media presence? Personal connections are key. 70% of respondents said they felt more connected if a company’s CEO was active on social media. Similarly, when employees shared information on social media, 72% of respondents felt a stronger brand connection.
In particular, employees posting about their employer can boost brand affinity.
Sprout Social also revealed some of the top social media behaviours for brands. These include liking or responding to a customer, showcasing a brand’s personality, supporting causes and participation in relevant conversations.
That is not to say that brands have to divert away from discussing their own products. Indeed, the majority of consumers (68%) still wants to predominantly hear about products and services.
Interactive social content (46%) and shared interests among consumers (43%) are also a great way to connect customers.
Overall, Sprout Social recommends to focus on personal connections with consumers by making employees brand advocates. Responding to and listening to what customers have to say is an important part of that process.