More Australian companies are jumping onto social media to promote their business; however, small businesses are still lagging behind their larger counterparts when it comes to leveraging Facebook and Twitter to drive sales.
The number of businesses with a social media presence is hovering at just over 30%, according to data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday, up from 26.1% during the 2012-13 period.
However, the percentage of companies using social media to boost customer engagement varies widely depending on the size of the business.
Only around 20% of companies with four or less employees use platforms such as Facebook to spread their message.
In comparison, more than 65% of Australian companies with 200 or more employees leverage social media.
The number of businesses with a website remained stable between 2013 and 2014.
Despite this, the stats proved to be good news for e-commerce with online orders for goods and services increasing by 31% over the 12-month period.
Craig Reardon, managing director of The E Team, told SmartCompany the figures show how hard it is for small businesses with limited staff to jump onboard Twitter or Instagram or even build a simple website.
“Large businesses have whole teams and agencies, so large businesses can have up to dozens of people on these issues all reporting back and keeping up with the trends,” Reardon says.
“Small businesses haven’t got a hope of keeping up with this and they’re still trying to do their jobs – sticking to their product or service. Anything extracurricular to that is a problem rather than an opportunity.”
Reardon says the plethora of voices and opinions out there can be very confusing for small business owners, and can discourage some from developing an online presence because they don’t know where to start.
“So we need social media now, what about a website? Is an app any good to me? This is an industry that’s growing fast and small businesses don’t operate at that level,” he says.
“It’s a real problem because it keeps getting more and more complex for them. They’ve got to test it, talk to different people and it’s a massive time commitment.”
For the majority of small businesses without a social media presence, Reardon recommends working with a reliable and holistic business that is able to advise where to start.
“Unfortunately the impartiality of most providers is pretty low, they’re all about their own product or service and not the bigger picture,” he says.
“So that means dealing with three or four different providers and that’s a problem. It’s all about problem-removal and anyone who comes up with a really convenient, affordable and fast way of dealing with this is going to win over small businesses.”