Australian small businesses are finally paying attention to social media, according to research published today.
The 2016 Sensis Social Media report has found that nearly half of small and medium businesses are using social media.
In the last year alone, there has been an 11% jump in Australian SMEs using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to interact with existing and potential customers.
“Social media allows businesses to target and segment customers to ensure they have effective messaging and a [strong] brand,” Sensis general manger of digital Alice Mentiplay told SmartCompany.
But with close to 70% of consumers on social media, the report indicates there is further room for growth.
“We know through our research that consumers are spending more time on social media, with 57% of people accessing social media every day or most days, and 26% of people checking social media up to five times per day,” Mentiplay says.
Facebook dominates the social media realm, with 95% of consumers hanging out here followed by 31% on Instagram, 24% on LinkedIn and just over 20% on Snapchat.
Google + is struggling on with 10% of users, behind Twitter and Pinterst at 19% and 11% respectively.
Within the last year, there has been a four-hour spike in the average number of hours spent on Facebook.
Consumers are now hanging out there more than 12 hours a week.
So what does this mean for your small business?
You need to have a social media presence if you don’t already, according to Mentiplay.
“One in two consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it interacted with them on social media in a positive way,” she says.
“[Social media] is a pretty low barrier to entry, it’s easy to set up and relatively low-cost. On average, SMBs only spend a few thousand dollars a year on social media.”
Breaking into social media
When going on social media, SMEs must have a strategy, says Mentiplay.
She recommends setting targets for likes or engagement rates that are aligned with an overall goal for the business.
“There are lots of free and paid tools out there [to help],” she says.
She suggests free scheduling platforms like Buffer or Hootsuite where you can schedule posts across multiple social media platforms so consumers continue to see your content when you’re asleep or off the job.
“A lot of our consumers are on social media late at night and early in the morning,” she says.
Paid tools like Sendable offer more advanced marketing features and analytics to really amp up your social media game.
Which platform is best?
Mentiplay believes there is no silver bullet platform for all businesses.
“It’s really about knowing where your customers are and where they’re spending time,” she says.
They’ve found that young consumers are more visual and likely to hangout on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
But a good place to start may well be the social network for its advanced features, upcoming bots and business-oriented marketing tools.
“You can’t go wrong on Facebook,” she says.