Social media’s captive market ignored by SMEs

Small business continues to be shy of the marketing opportunities offered by social media, according to new research from Sensis. South Australians are least likely to be social.

Australians continue to flock to social media for entertainment and shopping but businesses, particularly SMEs, are resisting the trend according to new research from Sensis and the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA).

The Sensis Social Media Report reveals that while 62 per cent of online Australians use social media, only 14 per cent of small businesses, 25 per cent of medium-sized businesses and 50 per cent of large businesses have a social media presence. Sweeney Research surveyed 803 Australian consumers and 1,944 Australian businesses to understand how they are using social media for the report.

Facebook remains the king of social networking site in Australia, garnering 97 per cent social media networking users and 60 per cent of all Australian internet users.

“With so many people using social media, it’s clear there are huge opportunities for brands to connect with current and potential customers, but businesses need to be careful in how they interact with people via these sites,” said Sensis Group Manager Emerging Business & Innovation, Simon Betschel.

The research also found that only 17 per cent of Australian small businesses have a digital strategy, and a surprising 40 per cent do not have a website. Geographically South Australia has the lowest number of businesses using social media at 11 per cent and Queensland and ACT have the highest, at 20 per cent.

Of those companies that have invested in a social media strategy the average spend is less than 5 per cent of total marketing budget, with the majority of businesses expected to spend the same or more on social media in the next 12 months.

The research revealed that the social media tribes are looking for what businesses can give them in the form of discounts (57 per cent ), giveaways (45 per cent), invitations to events (41 per cent) and product information (41 per cent).

Online buying benefits strongly from social media recommendation and research. The report found 12 per cent of social networking users are using these sites to research products. Of those clothes and fashion items are most commonly researched (42 per cent), followed closely by electrical goods (39 per cent) and furniture (28 per cent).

The rise of group buying has been bolstered by social media usage, with 12 per cent of social media users now accessing group buying sites. Significantly, 40-49 year olds are most likely to use them. Cudo is the most commonly accessed group buying site followed by Scoopon, Spreets and Jump on It.

Two thirds of social network users read online reviews before they make buying decisions, reading an average of six reviews each time.

“There are increasingly more opportunities for brands and businesses to use this space. To succeed, they need to make sure that, above all, their communication is targeted and relevant,” said Betschel.

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