A report has confirmed what most people already know – social media has become a major part of our modern lives. However, social media for small business is not booming like we may think.
The latest Sensis Social Media Report revealed Australians are now looking at social media more frequently and for larger bursts of time. The report determines Facebook still reigns supreme as the leading social media platform with the average user spending 12.5 hours on it per week, an increase of 4-hours since last year.
It also revealed Australians were spending more time on social media in general, with time spent increasing from 17-minutes to 24-minutes per day.
Yet small business is still falling behind
Despite the growing consumption of social media, small-to-medium size businesses still aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities presented. The report revealed only 48 per cent of small to medium size businesses were on social media, compared to almost 70 per cent of Australians.
Sensis General Manager of Digital Alice Mentiplay says social media for small business presented an excellent opportunity but few enterprises were taking advantage.
“Less than a third of SMBs are currently advertising on social media," says Alice.
However, Alice is confident as businesses begin to see the advantages of engaging their consumers, social media for small business patterns will change.
“We can expect to see advertising spend increase on social in coming years as customer groups become more fragmented across traditional media markets.
“On social, over a third of Australians already follow a business, which highlights the huge opportunity that exists for brands to open a dialogue and connect with their customers in new and creative ways,” she say.
“This is a great opportunity for businesses to find a niche market and engage with customers in an authentic and relevant way. If they can create content that is likeable and shareable, loyal customers will actually push their content out for free.”
Brands have more time to connect
The report indicates brands now have the engagement of their consumers for seven minutes longer.
However, as Alice says how brands interact with their consumers will remain one the most important aspects of their social media communications.
“With 52 per cent of consumers saying they're more likely to trust a brand if it interacts with its customers in a positive way on social, it’s become a crucial channel for building brand equity. It’s also one of the most effective ways for a business to segment their customers by location, age and gender so that they can truly target their marketing,” she says.
Target marketing is key
In the digital age, it doesn’t make sense to not engage your consumers on social media for small business.
“Businesses are jumping onto social media because that’s where their customers are. Almost six in 10 people are accessing social media every day, so businesses who avoid social media are missing opportunities to connect with their customers,” says Alice.
Another little less surprising statistic from the Sensis Social Media Report confirms 18 to 29-year-olds are the heaviest users, with 90 per cent now utilising social media.
Overall, the frequency of use for all ages has dramatically increased with 57 per cent of consumers using it every single day.
So If you want to have a discussion with a potential customer social media spaces are the main channel. Targeting technology is also allowing for marketers and advertisers to hyper-target their conversations so to their consumers.
How other social media platforms are performing
While Facebook still remains the leader, Instagram also came out swinging almost doubling its user base since 2013. Although, both Twitter and Google+ have not seen much improvement.
This growth is remarkable and goes to show how quickly the world is changing. These statistics mean more than ever, businesses and brands must keep up and get onboard with social media.
“It’s a new channel businesses can use to engage with customers in a two-way conversation. Social media is also one of the most accessible and cost-effective ways a business can now connect with customers. That’s why we have seen so many small and medium businesses add a social presence this year, and many more plan to get on board in the year ahead,” Alice says.
Social media grows old media diminishes
As the usage of social media grows, people’s use of other forms of knowledge bases, media and even websites will heavily diminish says Queensland University of Technology Senior Lecturer of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.
“There are real personal benefits with how your mobile interconnects with many of your activities in social spaces with friends and family, your shopping and your news. Smartphones are more sophisticated and therefore our intensity in usage is evolving along with us as consumers of these environments," says Shane.
“An App makes it much more seamless and the social media platform is integrating more and more. So there is less reason to go outside of that platform to other websites etc. Going to external websites is essentially beyond the comfortable, beyond your comfort zone and detaches you from your physical self/virtual self.
“Facebook are aware of this and are making it increasingly easier for you to find everything you want within their platform. If they don’t have it, they will acquire it and integrate that technology for perceived value for their customers."
Key is building a human connection
To stay connected with consumers you must have fresh and engaging social media content that entertains, educates and inspires your audience. Your communications and advertising should be engaging to the point that your audience is actively seeking it out.
Shane says while marketers need to understand how to use emerging technology to their benefit, their role is not one that can ever be replaced by computers.
“Marketers need to have technical capabilities to leverage these advancements and also understand the limitations of software in the consumer decision-making journey. Computers will never understand why someone makes the decision, just that they have,” he says.