According to the recent Sprout Social’s UK & Ireland Index 2022, 85% of social media marketers anticipate incorporating new technologies like Virtual Reality, the Metaverse, and NFTs into their social media strategy within the next year. Moreover, 30% of marketers believe their brands are already ahead of the curve in incorporating new technologies.  

However, consumers are ambivalent about using these new technologies, even as social media usage and expectations ramp up. More than 34% of consumers don’t expect this new technology to affect how they engage with brands on social media. So, what is this buzz around VR and metaverse all about?  

What’s the value of new technologies to everyday people?

Sprout Social’s latest findings reveal key learnings for marketers on the need to demonstrate the value of new technologies to their audience. The data also makes clear that brands still have a long way to go when raising brand awareness and user engagement.  

The report has also found that consumers expect brands to take a stand on social issues. 81% of British and Irish consumers say that they either agree (45%) or strongly agree (36%) that it’s important for brands to raise awareness and take a stand on sensitive topics.  

This demand is even more evident amongst younger generations. Therefore, half (51%) of marketers think it’s important to speak out on social issues to be culturally relevant on social media. 

Gerard Murnaghan, Sprout Social’s General Manager and Vice President, has spoken out about the data’s findings, arguing that “marketers should stay laser-focused on their audience, who look to social for engagement and connection. Ultimately, this is what social is all about. Organisations must prioritise brand building, customer service, and alignment on values above all else”. 

Other key findings

  • 41% of UK & Irish consumers anticipate the utilisation of WhatsApp to connect with brands in the near future. This is a stark contrast to the mere 7% of marketers who plan to use it to connect with consumers within the next 12 months. 
  • 47% of social media professionals cite their biggest challenge as hiring experienced talent. Over three quarters of social media managers anticipate hiring at least two additional social team members in the next two years. This increased desire for a growing social team only strengthens the case for a strong social media presence – further reaching out to more consumers across the web. 
  • Social media teams are struggling to gain the rest of their business’ support behind them. 44% of professionals are saying that their biggest challenge is proving the revenue-generating potential of social.  

Overall, these findings point us towards the indication that there is a clear divide between business teams and their consumers, when it comes to social media presence. In cases where consumers expect a company to talk about its purpose actively, there is a lack of this being provided by social media teams. This may be drawn to the discovery that the scouting of social media employees is proving to be a challenge. 

What is the metaverse all for?

As CX professionals, we should stay informed, engaged, and involved in designing the future of technology. There are ethical issues, social responsibilities, and data protection we should focus on when discussing virtual worlds. Accessing this digital information to convey to our consumers is becoming increasingly significant in a world that is technologically advancing at an exponential rate. Consumers must be familiar with technology’s progress to ensure they have a choice and active role in shaping the future of digital communication.  

Are we creating metaverse and developing new technologies to solve wicked problems, or only to increase revenue? Why not utilise social media engagement to raise social awareness? This will simultaneously engage consumers in all progressing elements of our world.

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