How consumers are contacting brands on social media this holidays

74% of customers will be reaching out to brands over social. Here’s where they’ll be and why, according to a new Sprout Social study.

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Chances are, brands will be hearing from customers on social this holiday season. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers say they’re likely to reach out to a brand on social over the holidays, according to a new study by social media management platform Sprout Social.

Seventy percent say they’re going to directly message a brand, and 63% said they’re more likely to contact a brand on social during the holidays than at other times throughout the year.

Why we care. Communicating with shoppers over the channels they prefer is an important part of customer experience and the customer journey. The key for brands is meeting customers where they are and avoiding sending too many messages where they aren’t, or where they prefer not to be contacted. How brands merge customer profiles from different channels also makes a difference. Hearing from customers, no matter the channel is a good thing — especially when first-party data is scarce.

Dig deeper: Two frameworks for resolving identity and improving customer experience.

Discovering new products. Social media will play a significant role in how customers discover new products during the holidays, the study found. Here are the different channels and methods for discovery, listed in descending order (social media methods in bold).

  • Family/friend recommendations on social media (60%)
  • Face-to-face/direct recommendations from family/friends (57%)
  • Brands’ social media accounts (55%)
  • TV (50%)
  • Influencer recommendations on social (42%)
  • Review sites (23%)
  • Print or digital media (newspapers, magazines, blogs) (19%)
  • Podcasts (15%)
  • Other (1%)

Contacting brands. Customers will also attempt to contact brands directly over social media platforms. Here are the top platforms where consumers say they’ll reach out.

  • Facebook (69%)
  • Instagram (65%)
  • TikTok (41%)
  • YouTube (39%)
  • WhatsApp (22%)
  • Snapchat (21%)
  • X, formerly Twitter (21%)
  • Pinterest (16%)
  • LinkedIn (9%)
  • Reddit (8%)

Messages, comments and tags. In addition to direct messages, here are the top ways consumers are contacting brands and posting about them.

  • Direct message (70%)
  • In-post comments (43%)
  • Tagging or @-mentioning a brand publicly (40%)
  • Story replies (17%)

Reasons for contacting. Here are the motivations customers say they have for contacting brands on social. It’s worth noting they cover pre- and post-purchase stages in the buyer journey.

  • Product question — before making a purchase (65%)
  • Sharing positive product or service feedback (39%)
  • Order question — post-purchase (38%)
  • Product defect or complaint (23%)
  • Posting content featuring a product you gave or received for the holidays (21%)
  • Other (1%)

U.S./U.K. The study included approximately 1600 responses split equally between U.S. and U.K. consumers. U.S. consumers were more likely to reach out to brands over social (80%) than U.K customers (67%). U.K. consumers were twice as likely to use WhatsApp (29%) as U.S. consumers (14%) during the holidays.

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About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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