• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Social Media Interaction: How Customers Engage in 2024

The days of contacting generic business email accounts are coming to an end. Now, customers are shifting to social for praise, questions, complaints and everything in between.

Creating a social media interaction strategy is essential for long-term customer satisfaction. Most consumers expect brands and companies with a social media presence to interact with customers, promote products‌ and answer questions. As social continues to evolve, the ways audiences engage with brands will grow alongside it.

In this article, we’ll cover what these interactions look like, and how they impact your overall business strategy. But first, let’s cover some basics.

What is social media interaction?

Social media interaction is an umbrella term that encompasses all the two-way conversations and touchpoints that occur between companies and consumers.

Whether you’re liking a tagged post or addressing a lukewarm review, the way you interact with your followers has a huge impact on customer satisfaction and retention. Every positive interaction has the potential to build customer relationships and turn a casual shopper into a lifetime fan.

3 key social media interaction statistics to focus your strategy

Not all social media strategies are made the same. The path your brand takes depends on your current social media planning, engagement gaps with followers and the best way to build deeper connections with them.

To fully understand today’s shifting social media landscape, we surveyed over 1,800 consumers and 900 marketers for the Sprout Social Index™ 2023 report. What we found were changing consumer expectations, higher social media use and room for improvement around brand engagement.

68% of consumers follow brands on social to stay informed on new products or services

More than two-thirds of consumers now use social media to stay informed about new products and services. Our research found 45% of people also follow brands to see the enjoyable and entertaining content they post.

A Sprout Social Index 2023™ infographic highlighting the type of content consumers want to see on social from brands and why they follow these brands. The top factor is information on products and services.

Social media is the new mall, and brands are no longer shying away from using social media as a selling platform. Once someone hits follow, it’s a clear signal they want to stay up to date on new products, services, exclusive deals and promotions. Embrace this by creating content that resonates with audiences, encourages interaction with your products or services and leads them to the checkout.

53% of consumers say their social media usage has been higher over the last two years than the previous two years

Social media is filling a seemingly endless need for content. We’re more online than ever, allowing brands to create a stronger marketing funnel that supports the full customer journey and builds trust.

With 78% of consumers—up to 88% for Gen Z’ers—agreeing a brand’s social media presence has a larger impact on whether or not they trust the brand, positive social media interactions are key to building your audience.

“As the most accessible touchpoint for consumers, social media has become the call center, suggestion box and customer service desk for brands. Give your team the resources to effectively care for your customer via social media.”

Azad Yakatally, Head of Social Media, Klaviyo

However, only 30% of marketers say their brand actively engages with customers on social media

The evidence is clear that social media customer engagement is a winning strategy for brands, but only a third are actively engaging and listening to customers. And 71% of business leaders agree most companies don’t have a strong social media strategy for customer service and care.

These stats are a strong indication of how most brands manage social media interactions. While customers increasingly rely on social media to find new products and follow brands, many brands still have work to do to increase customer engagement.

8 ways customers interact with brands on social in 2024

Social media gives consumers the opportunity to interact with brands anytime, anywhere. Here are the most popular ways customers engage with brands on social, and how they can inform your social media customer engagement strategy:

1. They Like posts

According to the Index, 79% of social media strategists regularly track metrics around engagement—the likes, shares and comments on a post. These engagements are a no-cost way for consumers to demonstrate interest in a product or service, but the data they provide is invaluable.

Tracking which posts generate the most ikes helps you understand what your fans are most interested in. For example, if posts about your corporate social responsibility program typically receive a higher Like count than posts about your product or service, you could use that information to create stronger, more socially accountable product messaging.

Sprout Social's Post Performance Report, which shows top performing posts within a given period.

Use a social media management tool like Sprout to measure post performance across platforms to get a more comprehensive understanding of customer preferences. The beauty of these insights is that their applications extend well beyond social, informing email strategy, paid ad campaigns and more.

2. They follow brand accounts

Pressing the follow button is the first step to becoming active brand community members. Each of your followers exists in some phase of your marketing funnel, whether they’re considering a first-time purchase or are a loyal customer.

Many consumers follow brands specifically to learn about new products or services, while the Index found another 46% want to get access to exclusive deals or promotions. To get more followers on social media, brands must think about the types of content they publish.

Customers have a wide range of content they like to see:

  • 42% want short-form videos (<15 seconds)
  • 30% want static images
  • 26% are looking for influencer content
  • 20% want GIFs/memes, while only 10% are looking for text-only content

However, customers said there’s also content they don’t see enough of:

Graph showing what content consumers want to see on social

Incorporating these consumer demands into your social media efforts can improve engagement and grow your followers to get more eyes on your content. Creating content your audience loves gives your brand more opportunities to build trust and create a loyal following.

3. They make direct purchases

According to Statista, social commerce across all social platforms is on the rise. Whether people are looking at products on Facebook Shops or browsing on Instagram and TikTok, more customers are buying directly from a brand’s social channel.

A brand uploading shoppable posts to social media can tag products and create direct links to streamline the checkout process. This interaction on a brand’s channel can engage audiences, particularly younger generations who like purchasing products directly through social media.

4. They leave product or service reviews

Your review strategy can make or break your online reputation. The Index found some 32% of consumers leave product or service reviews as a way to interact with brands on social. Those reviews carry serious weight—85% of consumers report that customer reviews are influential when making purchase decisions.

A review response plan is an integral part of your brand management practices. Whether someone gives positive feedback or explains how you can improve, you need to engage. Acknowledgment goes a long way toward strengthening brand loyalty. A thoughtful response can turn a one-time buyer into a repeat customer.

Sprout Social dashboard showing social media mentions.

Simplify your review management strategy by opting for a social solution that takes multiple platforms into account. Sprout Social’s review management tool unifies reviews from Facebook, Glassdoor, TripAdvisor and Google My Business into one view to simplify your response process.

5. They ask questions

Social media is a bridge between your brand and your customers. These platforms are the public face of your brand, so it’s no surprise customers increasingly use these channels to report issues and complaints. It’s how a brand responds to these reports that makes all the difference.

The Index found 63% of consumers agree their loyalty to a brand is significantly influenced by the quality of customer support they provide on social media, and leaders across customer service, marketing and communications are taking note. Response speed also impacts customer loyalty, as 76% of customers put equal value on brands that prioritize customer support and respond quickly to needs.

Data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™ illustrating how quickly consumers expect a response from brands on social in 2022 and 2023. In 2023, nearly 70% expect a response within 24 hours or less. In 2022, 77% of consumers expected a response within 24 hours or less.

It’s not enough to resolve an issue quickly—brands must give quality customer care by interacting with every message on a personal level. Moving from platform to platform to monitor and address direct messages natively wastes valuable time that can impact customer satisfaction. Streamline your response management process by using a tool that consolidates your social inboxes in a centralized location.

MeUndies has set goals for faster response times on social media to ensure all messages are replied to within a 60-minute window. The company uses Sprout’s Smart Inbox to track and respond to Instagram direct messages, mentions and comments in one stream.

Example of Sprout Social's smart inbox

6. They tag brands

Interacting with tagged posts can help turn customers into brand advocates. First, it creates an opportunity to celebrate the customer and their experience with your business. Second, it builds valuable social proof that can convert potential customers who are on the fence about making a purchase.

Whenever a person takes time out of their day to praise your brand on their personal profiles, bank that for marketing use down the line. User-generated content can be repurposed for social posts, web copy, ad campaigns and more. With tools like Sprout, you can monitor mentions and tags to identify posts worth sharing now and later on.

Customers are also increasingly using social media to ask brands questions and gather information. Responding quickly with detailed answers can help create a community and win customers over.

Sprout Social responds to a customer question on X

7. They mention brands in posts (without tagging)

Scoring social mentions is a double-edged sword. Ideally, every mention online will be a positive one, but sometimes brands are tagged in a crisis or to simply grab attention. Participating in conversations in a personalized way builds trust with audiences and shows you’re actively engaging with everyone who tags your brand.

And, not every customer will tag a brand directly in conversation. They may simply mention a brand name or product on social media–making it tough to keep track of every conversation without the right tools.

A consumer mentions Sprout Social on X without tagging the account

Brands can use social listening tools to join these conversations–even when they’re not tagged. Nearly 43% of brands surveyed in the Index report plan to use social listening and monitoring to support more customer-centric service strategies. Social listening tools like sentiment analysis tap into social media posts and measure whether or not brand mentions from customers are positive, negative or neutral.

Tracking sentiment analysis with the Sprout Social dashboard

This data allows brands to capitalize on positive mentions and respond to any negative chatter before it impacts credibility.

8. They use brand hashtags

Hashtags mobilize and create communities around specific themes or ideas. Adopting trending hashtags is one way to go, but brands can also create buzz with their own hashtags and encourage followers to do the same in support of their campaigns and products.

Sprout’s hashtag tracking tools can find hashtags frequently mentioned alongside your brand in posts. It also tracks which hashtags get the most engagement so they can be incorporated into future social campaigns to increase post reach.

Table showing branded hashtag tracking inside Sprout Social

See how customer engagement is evolving on social

Customer expectations aren’t static. As long as social networks evolve their functionality, consumer habits will change alongside them. Download the Sprout Social Index Report™ 2023 to learn more about how social media interaction will impact your brand in 2024 and beyond.

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