Small businesses continue to underestimate the uptake of social media and mobile technologies among consumers, a new report reveals, with older consumers particularly overlooked.
The annual Sensis e-Business Report, which is based on interviews with 1,800 SMEs and 1,000 consumers, covers multiple topics including their use of the internet, email, social media and mobile technologies.
The report shows two in 10 small businesses now have a social media presence, up from one in 10 last year, with Facebook the most commonly used platform, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and YouTube.
According to the report, 37% of female business operators have implemented social media activities, compared to just 16% of males.
Of those businesses with a social media presence, only one in four monitors it every day, with a further one in four attending to it just once a week.
A total of 5% say they never provide updates, and 48% believe social media has had no impact on their business.
But the report indicates that small business owners are underestimating the popularity of social media platforms, particularly among older demographics.
According to the report, 82% of 30- to 39-year-olds use social media, in addition to 47% of 40- to 49-year-olds and 45% of 50- to 64-year-olds.
Report author Christena Singh says small businesses appear to be overlooking the strong usage of social media among people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s.
“The proportion of small businesses with a social networking presence is low when you consider how pervasive it has become amongst Australians,” she says.
“Age continues to influence social networking usage. However, we have seen growth in the share of total use in the 30-plus age group.”
The report also shows that small businesses have been slow to take advantage of the rise in mobile web usage during the year, with just 5% developing a mobile-specific site.
And yet the use of video and mobile applications has become commonplace, with 60% of mobile web users downloading a mobile app and 40% downloading video content.
“Mobile web has transformed beyond a transit medium, with Australians now logging on at home (38%) or at work (49%),” Singh say.
“We can see that mobile web use has grown in the older age groups, with almost half of Australians in their forties connecting via mobile and a third of those in their 50s.”
“One of the most compelling reasons for small businesses to consider mobile activities is that 12% of consumers purchasing online have made purchases using a mobile.”
“Small businesses are quick to purchase new technology. They are just not as quick to use this technology to market to consumers.”