How businesses can get ahead with the latest developments in social media

Digital360 on 3 August 2017

The most recent Social Media Report from Sensis was released in June. We share some of the key findings from the report, which you can download from Sensis here.

Social media has changed the way we all use the web. Hyperlinks and search bars are being replaced by algorithms and apps that learn our tastes and preferences. And combined with the rise of mobile devices, we're more connected than ever before.

To understand the changing impact of social media, each year Sensis releases its Social Media Report. The report is one of the most comprehensive dives into the state of the Australian social media landscape. We looked at the latest research and extracted key insights on how social media is changing consumer behaviour.

Australians on social media in 2017

The report’s findings are clear. We're spending more time on social media than ever before. Almost 8 in 10 Australians now use social media, with usage up in all demographics. And over a third of people now access social media more than five times per day.

The rise could be attributed to the near saturation of mobile technology. Smartphones are increasingly the way we check feeds, up from 72 per cent to 81 per cent. Social acceptance of this 'always-on' behaviour is also significant, with 2 in 10 users happy to check social media when eating with friends and family.

The influence of social media is on young people is also undeniable. Almost every Australian aged between 18 and 29 is on social media (99 per cent). Unsurprisingly, it’s this younger demographic who are the highest users: 89 per cent will check their favourite networks at least once per day.

Popular social networks and rising stars

When it comes to social media, there is one ubiquitous network. Facebook has near total saturation of the Australian social media market with 94 per cent of social media users on the platform.

The biggest growth has been in image and video sharing. Instagram, the photo sharing app created in 2010 and bought by Facebook in 2012, saw a 15 per cent increase over the year. It is the second largest network with 46 per cent of Australian users now on the platform.

Snapchat was another rising star when it came to Australian user growth. Snapchat is a photo and video sharing app launched in 2012 and is best known for its quirky and novel innovations. According to the report, usage has almost doubled from 22 per cent to 40 per cent of the market.

Why the rise in visual platforms? Social media is a now a primary method of communication. Calls and texts have been replaced by video and photos. And compared to the traditional ‘timeline’ format inherited from desktop experiences, these new platforms have been made for visual experiences and mobile audiences first.

Popular social media networks in Australia 

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Case study: Read about how we boosted brand awareness using Snapchat.

Social media at home, at work, out and about.

Australians are checking social media more often, in more places. We're on social media at home. At work. In cars and buses. At bars and restaurants. With many of us checking up to five times a day, social media influences our lives at a number of key moments.

We seem to be most obsessed when we first get up and then again when we’re about to go to bed. For 18 to 29-year-olds, 8 in 10 will check social media first thing in the morning. And almost two thirds will check again as the last thing they do before bed.

Meanwhile, usage has increased when we leave the house. We’re browsing more often on public transport and in the car, jumping 18 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. More than a third will then jump on again during work. And half of us will check again at lunchtime.

Social media is also on the rise when we’re out and about. Usage at restaurants, bars and parties increased from 19 per cent to 33 per cent. The implications mean that social media isn’t just a method of distraction or filling time. It’s increasingly how we communicate. We add value to our physical experiences by sharing them digitally.

Resource: Get started with Facebook advertising for small business

How Australian SMEs are taking on social media

Despite the rise in social media across the board for consumers, use by SMEs remains static. SMEs seem to be missing the mark when it comes to social media. Just 47 per cent of SMEs are on and use these social channels to connect with customers.

According to the Sensis research, the majority of businesses remain unlikely to offer incentives such as discounts and coupons via social media. This is despite consumers' keen interest in discounts (54 per cent) and giveaways (48 per cent) from the brands or businesses they follow.

Of those businesses with a social presence, Facebook is the most popular platform with an overwhelming 90 per cent share. This is followed by LinkedIn, with just 41 per cent of medium-size businesses and 35 per cent of small businesses on the network.

However, an increasing number of businesses have a formal social media strategy in place. While SMEs still lag behind large organisations, there has been some improvement. 40 per cent of small businesses and 43 per cent of medium businesses now have a social media strategy.

Advertising through social media has also increased in popularity. More small (up from 20 to 26 per cent) and medium (up from 27 to 35 per cent) size businesses are advertising on social media. Facebook is easily the most preferred channel, holding a 90 per cent share for small business and 62 per cent for medium business.

Australian businesses advertising on social media

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Case study: See the Ace Karts Facebook League Cup campaign

Our takeaways

After reading the full details of the report, what are some of our key takeaways? We’d offer the following advice to SMEs looking to get into social media.

  • Start with Facebook – For the simple reason that almost all social media users are on it, so your customers are too. Facebook also has the most advanced advertising and targeting tools and support for businesses.
  • Target at the right times – Most Australians are accessing social media in the morning and evenings. For B2C industries, target these times of high consumer engagement. B2B industries can also capitalise on social media, as more and more users access during work hours.
  • Get a strategy and experiment – Most SMBs still don’t have a formal social media strategy. Figure out key objectives, channels, messages and content in a formal strategy. But don’t be afraid to experiment. The space and the behaviour of users are constantly changing. A willingness to test new ideas is the key to success.
  • Keep an eye on on visual platforms – The rise of mobile and technology has changed the way Australians are communicating and connecting. Visual platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat may be worth keeping an eye on, especially if your business targets a younger demographic in a consumer market.

For more information, download the full report or speak with a social media specialist in Melbourne.