Social media has become the epicentre for brands trying to build relationships with consumers, creating content relevant to trends and social issues in the hopes of winning users over.
However, according to Sprout Social's 2023 survey of consumers and marketers, 51% of the former think the most memorable action a brand can take on social media is personalised interactions and responding directly to users.
Just 25% of consumers think speaking out about social issues and causes makes a brand memorable – despite this being seen as a differentiator in recent years – as they primarily follow brands on social media to stay up-to-date on products and services (68%).
Based on this research, brands should consider prioritising direct engagement with consumers as opposed to taking positions on social trends or causes.
Does AI help brands scale or diminish authenticity?
AI has become a differentiating factor for brands trying to capitalise on peoples’ appetite for personalised interactions, the research found. Over half (52%) of consumers are using social media more today than during the pandemic-era surge and some savvy marketers think that leveraging AI will allow them to meet the desire for personalised connection at scale.
Of marketers surveyed, 79% said that AI has already had a positive impact on their work, with more time for creativity (79%) and increased efficiency (73%) the top benefits. These two boosts in creativity and efficiency are affording marketers more time to focus on attempting to meet consumers’ demand for authenticity and deliver the personalised conversations they so crave.
Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social, said: “Our research shows consumer expectations continue to rise and shift year-over-year. Today’s consumers want brands to do more than jump on trends and social issues – they want to trust and truly connect with a brand, requiring them to be more responsive and personal than ever.
“Social media is the channel for building that trust and consumers expect a brand’s social presence to provide authentic communication and strong customer care. Our research also shows that with the introduction of more sophisticated AI-powered tools, marketers are able to do just that and at scale. AI is supporting social teams in streamlining workflows, delivering personalised insights and creating memorable experiences that meet these modern demands.”
AI’s ongoing struggle to win over consumers
Despite the help of AI, marketers are still struggling to meet consumers' authenticity expectations. Per the report, authenticity tops the list of what consumers believe they don’t see enough of from brands on social media and 69% expect personalised responses when they reach out on social channels.
Of consumers surveyed, 76% place equal value on brands prioritising customer support and responding quickly to their needs, with 70% expecting a response within the same day of reaching out.
To meet this demand for timely responses and streamline customer care on social media, roughly half (43%) of marketers plan to use AI and automation tools to handle basic customer inquiries at scale, allowing them to focus on developing deeper, more personalised engagements with customers. But with consumers having made it clear that they far prefer interacting with real humans opposed to machines, will those who don’t receive a deeper, more personalised engagement, be satisfied with a scaled AI-powered response?