Molly Buccini

With more than 14,000 customers spanning the globe and 150 employees to date – Sprout Social’s got a corner on smart social communications. At Brafton, we’re proud to be kicking off the new year with Sprout’s platform – we’re confident it’s the right next step in providing our clients with even stronger social marketing services.

​Sprout’s mission is to help brands extract real business value out of social media through effective engagement, publishing and analytics. Here are a few ways we know Sprout Social will benefit our clients:

  • The platform’s single-stream inbox makes it easy for us to effortlessly and efficiently manage our social inbox  – so we never miss a message that matters.
  • Sprout’s intuitive, user-friendly design requires little-to-no training, which makes it easy for us to bring people throughout our organization into the platform and streamline all of our social media efforts.
  • Once in the platform, we can easily collaborate with features like drafting, tasking, hierarchical permissions and collision detection (so two people don’t reply to a message at the same time).
Darryl Villacorta, Sprout Social’s Social Media Manager
Darryl Villacorta, Sprout Social’s Social Media Manager

We chatted with Darryl Villacorta, Sprout Social’s Social Media Manager for some exclusive insights into the world of Sprout Social – including his social resolutions of 2015, plus top advice for clients:

Tell us about the latest from Sprout Social – what are your resolutions for 2015?

I’m really excited about what is in the product pipeline for Sprout. I can’t divulge much, but rest assured that we’re focused on continuing to make it easier for brands to discover, respond to and interact with the social conversations and customers that matter most to their business.

What’s one thing marketers aren’t doing, that they should be?

Overall, brands should be focusing their efforts on personalizing messages toward community members, especially when it comes to interactions. Finding ways to add humor with GIFs as a response, or creating an image that speaks to an individual are great examples that we’re starting to see take prominence. 

Anytime a brand takes that extra step to create content on a more personal level, it will always leave a lasting impression with the recipient – user sentiment can only go up as a result.

Sprout Social Quote 1

What’s your response to marketers who think social media doesn’t provide ROI?

The misconception that social media does not provide ROI can be dangerous for a business’ bottom line. Your customers are talking to and about you on social. If you just choose to ignore them, you risk alienating and annoying the very people that matter most to your business. 

How do you foresee social media evolving over the next year? The next 5 years?

I think that organizations will start using social media to better engage their own employees as ambassadors. For years, the marketing department has focused on developing relationships with outside ambassadors to organically spread their message but a large base of brand advocates – a company’s own employees – has remained largely untapped. I see social media as the perfect medium to activate those ambassadors and easily spread a brand’s message.

Which social network do you think will be the leading players in 2015?

The one network that hasn’t stopped growing since its inception is Instagram, and I think 2015 will be its breakout year. As brands (and users) become increasingly annoyed with algorithms and overly ad-saturated platforms, the simplicity behind Instagram continues to be extra appealing to users and brands alike.

As far as newbies are concerned, I’m intrigued to see what Tsu can become having just launched a few months ago. Tsu differentiates itself from Facebook by aiming to reward its users. It displays ads and promises to pay its users for contributing and sharing original content. The more interesting content you create that gets shared, the more money you make. Personally, I’m a huge fan of gamification. This approach is a fun and fantastic way to engage and reward your community, and Tsu is primed to benefit greatly as a result of making gamification its core approach.

Which social trend do you think marketers should say farewell to in 2015?

I wouldn’t call this a social trend, but say goodbye to speaking the lingo of those outside of your audience. Need an example? Check out the Twitter handle @BrandsSayingBae.

Brands Saying Bae Twitter

Adopting lingo outside of your target audience just to make it look like your brand is following the trends helps no one – it works if your industry warrants it. One other social trend I’d like to see marketers say goodbye to is hash-jacking. Similar to adopting trending lingo, if a hashtag doesn’t align with your brand and message, don’t use it. There are so many examples of brands that have tried to jump on a trending hashtag only to receive negative criticism.

Want to see examples of social media brand fails? Check out this blog post.

What types of content do you predict will rule the social landscape this year?

Images will always continue to do well, but the one that I believe that is on the cusp of being flat out dominant is video. With the technological advances we’ve seen in the past 5-10 years, anyone can create professional-looking videos. With platforms like Vine and YouTube presenting an appealing way for content creators to shower the masses with their ideas, expect to see more and more videos make their way into your newsfeeds.

If marketers were only allowed to focus on 3 metrics for their social media marketing efforts – what do you think they should be?

Conversions, engagement and demographics.

small yellow check markConversions are the closest tie-in to tangible social media ROI outside of vanity metrics such as Likes and followers, and it’s important to ensure that your followers? are ultimately converting on your company’s website. Tracking conversions puts a hard number on any leads or transactions that take place via social media and helps provide context about social media’s worth.

small yellow check markAs for engagement, I like to think of it as a priority metric – it needs attention. “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is a phrase that rings true within social media circles, and engagement is one of the main components that help define social media. Are you broadcasting more than you should be? Keeping an eye on engagement can help identify whether you’re talking to yourself or actually having real conversations.

small yellow check markAnd last on my list is user demographics. Focusing on this metric will tell you a lot about your customer base and followers, but it will also provide insight into any new and potential customers. Noticing a spike in engagement from a small town in Idaho? You might have a new business opportunity there. If you want to continue to grow your business, this is a great metric to watch!