Clear and Effective Communication

Should your business use social media?

Small to medium-sized businesses face greater challenges in embracing social media compared with large organisations which tend to have dedicated social media employees and are more able to update their social media daily and so on. However, whatever the size of your business, you can increase your chances of success if you understand social media and its users, you are targeted, you know what outcome you’d like to get and how, and you can measure your success.

August 2013| Kathy Pullman | CommunECate

The Yellow™ Social Media Report 2013 shows that small to medium-sized businesses with a social media presence can achieve higher business performance. The report also shows that more small to medium-sized businesses are using social media, but they are lagging behind consumers. While 65 per cent of online Australians use social media, only 30 per cent of small businesses and 47 per cent of medium-sized businesses report they have a social media presence – with large organisations at 79 per cent. The following steps and snapshots from The Yellow™ Social Media Report 2013 may help you decide whether to use social media and how you can increase the chances of success should you go ahead:

1. Understand social media

The first step towards deciding if you should use social media is to understand the popular types of social media, how they differ, and what users want (see What is social media? by Kathy Pullman). Facebook is the most used social media by Australian consumers and businesses:

Who Social media used
Australian consumers Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest
Australian businesses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Blog, and YouTube


Note: The Yellow™ Social Media Report 2013 defines social media as: Social media networking websites, including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, and online blogs and online rating and review mechanisms.

2. Identify and target your consumers

You need to know who you want to target and why and how they are using social media. Here is a profile of consumers that use social media:

Characteristic General profile of consumers using social media
Reason for using
  • The most common reason for using social media is to catch up with friends or family, followed by sharing photos or video, co-ordinating parties or shared activities, and getting information on news and current events – lack of interest/appeal is the main reason given for not using social media
  • Females are slightly more frequent users of social media
  • People under 40 years of age are bigger users of social media, with most using social media every day
  • 14-19 year olds have more friends, contacts or followers in their social media networks than other age groups – this is followed by users aged 20-29 and 40-49 years
Time most used
  • After work/in the evening, followed by last thing before going to bed, then first thing in the morning
  • Most people use social media from home, mostly in the lounge, bedroom, study, or kitchen
  • More than 4 in 10 people use social media while watching TV
  • Reality shows are the most popular programs to watch while using social media networks, followed by news and current affairs, drama, and movies
  • Three in ten of those that used social media while watching TV reported discussing the programs on social media at the same time
  • Slightly more people in regional areas use social media and they use it slightly more frequently
  • Smartphones are the most popular device for accessing social media – followed by computers then tablets
  • Mobile users mostly use apps to access social media
  • Mobile devices are most popular device for accessing social media in every age category under 50 whereas people older than 50 years prefer to use desktop computers to access social media

3. Know the outcome you want and how to get it

What outcome would you like to achieve, e.g. increase sales, generate leads, or build business reputation? How will you achieve this? The following consumer profile may help you decide:

Business activity Business profile of consumers using social media
Products and services
  • The 20% of people that use social media to search for products and services mostly look for fashion and electrical goods followed by computers, cosmetics and fragrance, and music
  • One in five social media users use social media to research products and services they want to buy
  • The last time people used social media to research something they wanted to buy, 58% reported their research resulted in a purchase – but only half of the purchases were made online
  • The link between social media and buying is growing – 58% this year compared with 36% in 2011
  • 35% of social media users follow social networking groups associated with businesses or brands
  • Followers of businesses or brands most commonly want discounts, followed by giveaways, product information, tips/advice, and coupons
  • Facebook users most commonly follow fashion/clothing and sporting clubs while Twitter users most commonly follow sporting clubs, electronics, technology, and professionals
  • More social media users agree that they’re happy to see advertising on social media, but more than half claim to take no notice of ads they see
  • 36% of social media users sometimes click on ads to find out more
  • 84% of social media users ignore sponsored posts from businesses they don’t follow and 28% say they like sponsored posts from businesses they follow
  • The most commonly rated products and services are accommodation, restaurants/bars, stores, movies, and mobile apps – those who provided online ratings gave about 13 ratings in 2012
Blogs and reviews
  • 74% of all social media users have read/do read online reviews or blogs
  • 20-29 year olds are more likely to read online reviews/blogs, closely followed by 30-49 year olds
  • Social media users read about 4 online reviews before they decide to buy
  • Hotels/motels, restaurants/bars, holiday destinations, and movies are commonly blogged or reviewed
  • Slightly more social media users in regional areas read online reviews or blogs
  • The majority of social media users would consider changing their opinion if a business responded to a negative review or blog that they had posted

4. Measure your success

  • Here are some ways Australian businesses are measuring the success of their social media investment:
    Number of likes/followers/subscribers
  • Sales/revenue/profits
  • Asking people how they got information from the business
  • Take up of incentives and offers
    • Usage
    • Brand sentiment
    • Number of hits on the business website
    • Analytical tools
    • Number of responses/enquiries/calls.

Yellow is a trade mark of Telstra Corporation Limited (ABN 33 051 775 556). This article called Should your business use social media? is published for your information only. It is published with due care and attention to accuracy, but CommunECate accepts no liability if, for any reason, the information is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date.


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