Finding and hiring top talent has rocketed to the top of the rankings for social media marketers’ challenges this year, as 62% anticipate hiring between two and six social media professionals over the next two years.
Whereas in 2019 the number one challenge was convincing senior leaders that social media was business-critical, this has plummeted to the bottom of the list, with finding talent and proving return on investment taking the top two slots in a list of five business priorities.
The latest Sprout Social Social Index has revealed that social media marketing team expansion has taken priority for businesses of all sizes. The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 US consumers and 500 US social marketers, found that 88% of marketers expect to hire another team member over the next two years. Almost three in 10 marketers in large businesses (1,000 employees or more) expect to hire seven or more staff in their social marketing teams.
The report said: “There has never been a better time to be a job seeker in social, regardless of your level of tenure. There’s ample opportunity for social media professionals—and a lot of competition for hiring managers.”
Short-form videos tops engagement rating for consumers
Engagement with short-form video is growing, with 50% highlighting this in 2020’s research compared with 66% in 2022. Length definitely matters, according to Sprout Social, as consumers find short-form videos 2.5 times more engaging than long-form versions.
The most engaging types of content were short-form videos and images, said more than six in 10 consumers surveyed as part of the research. These mediums were streets ahead of others, with 37% calling out live video as among the most engaging, and just 11% engaged with URLs and links to other content.
Almost three-quarters of consumers think the “publishing sweet spot” for brands is one to two posts daily. But, said the report: “that number is based on what consumers actually see in their newsfeeds. Since every platform has a different algorithm, brands may need to post more often to make sure their customers see the ideal number of posts”.
Consumers reported that they would most like to see posts highlighting a brand’s product or service on social media posts (51%), followed by customer testimonials (39%) and posts that highlight a brand’s personality (34%). Just 14% said they would like to see ‘behind the scenes’ content and 23% wanted posts that involved collaborations with celebrities, influencers or creators.
Facebook tops consumption - but watch out for YouTube
TIkTok saw a significant jump in the numbers of consumers who anticipate using the platform in 2022 - at 38%, this was more than double those that said they plan to use it in 2020. This corresponded with the 39% of marketers who anticipate using TikTok this year.
Facebook however is still top for anticipated consumption and use by both consumers and marketers, with 71% of consumers saying they anticipate using the Meta-owned platform and 65% of marketers stating they plan to.
The research highlighted YouTube as an area of potential investment that marketers might be missing out on. More than half of consumers expect to spend more time on YouTub in 2022 but just 35% of marketers plan to leverage the platform, down from 52% in 2020.
“There’s not a lot that we want to bring back from 2020, but that year’s YouTube investment might be worth revisiting,” the report commented.
Marketers anticipate ploughing budgets into metaverse
Sprout Social also highlighted that marketers are clear early adopters of emerging technologies but consumers are a bit behind them. More than two-thirds (67%) anticipate investing a quarter of their budget or more into metaverse propositions in the next year, and 33% felt their brands were ahead of the curve for implementing virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) into social strategies.
Conversely, Gen Z and Millennials were the most likely consumer groups to anticipate using AR, VR or extended reality to interact with brands, but this stood at less than half (46%) for both groups.
Sensitive issues are also noteworthy for social communications - seven in 10 consumers said it was important for brands to raise awareness and take a stand, and this was particularly so for Millennials (77%) and Gen Z (73%) consumers. However, just 48% of the marketers surveyed said that brands need to speak out on social issues to stay “culturally relevant” in social media.
“Despite the overwhelming consumer desire for brands to take a stand, social media marketers are having a hard time pushing their companies and leadership teams to do so. Two-thirds (66%) of marketers report having to encourage leadership to create company positions on the big issues,” said the report.