More Australian businesses than ever have a presence on social media (but they could be a lot more social!)

The proportion of Australian businesses with a social media presence has reached the highest levels recorded, according to new research.

The 2018 Yellow Social Media Report (Business), released today, is an annual survey of how Australian consumers and businesses use social media.

According to the report, more than half of Australia’s small (51%) and medium (58%) businesses have a social media presence, while for large businesses the figure is 85%.

When this survey was first undertaken in 2011, these figures were 14% (small business), 25% (medium) and 50% (large),

What do I read into these statistics?

  • Social media is no longer a novelty, particularly at the higher end of business.
  • 49% of small businesses and 42% of medium-sized enterprises still don’t have a social media presence – potentially an opportunity lost right there!

One of the biggest opportunities for businesses is to use social media for two-way communication with the public. 

In answer to the question: “Do you use your social media channels to engage in two-way communication with your customers and contacts (e.g. to solve customer service enquiries)?”, roughly half of small businesses (51%) and medium-sized enterprises (48%) indicated they did.

However, while 75% large businesses used social media for two-way communication, this figure is down from 95% in 2017.

Interestingly, these figures are not too dissimilar from 2012 when this question was first asked in the annual survey.

What do I read into these statistics?

  • Way too many businesses, particularly at the smaller end of the market, are potentially using social media as a one-way broadcasting mechanism.
  • How much of this ‘two-way interaction’ is simply reactive? How many businesses are proactively engaging with people via their social channels?

Along similar lines, roughly six in 10 small-to-medium-sized enterprises and over eight in 10 large businesses engage with people who provide feedback via social media.

Compared to 2017, this is unchanged for small businesses, higher for medium size businesses and lower for large enterprises.

What do I read into these statistics?

  • Are large businesses becoming fatigued when it comes to engaging with people on social media? Does this drop (of 9 percentage points) signify the start of a trend, or is it simply an anomaly? The ‘use of social media for two-way communication’ statistic above was a drop 20 percentage points with large businesses, so something seems to be happening at the big end of town when it comes to the social aspect of social media.

So if businesses aren’t using fully their social channels to engage with members of the public, what is their main reason for being on social media?

Unsurprisingly, it is to “advertise/promote the business” – according to the Yellow report, 41% of small business, 42% of medium-sized businesses, and 58% of large enterprises use social media for this reason.

What do I read into these statistics?

  • It’s wholly understandable businesses want to advertise and promote their brands, but it’s also an indication an ‘old school’ mentality might still exist in the business community (i.e. using social channels to do what they’ve always done – push a promotional message). Unfortunately for these businesses, this is not what consumers want from them on ‘the socials’.

Posting frequency throws up some interesting statistics.

Small businesses have pulled right back from posting to social media every day – just 19% do this in 2018, compared to 36% last year.

It’s a similar trend with large businesses, albeit from a higher base: 68% post once or more per day compared to 88% 12 months previously.

Meanwhile, medium-sized businesses have upped their frequency game, with 41% indicating they post to social media every day, up from 34% in 2017.

What do I read into these statistics?

  • A high posting frequency is obviously challenging for small businesses, but even large enterprises are feeling the pinch in this regard.
  • Medium-sized businesses are potentially more agile than big companies, and better resourced than smaller businesses; are they close enough to the ground where they can see the benefits of a frequent posting strategy and have the wherewithal to be able to pull it off? Will be interesting to compare these figures next year!

Which social platforms are king?

No real surprises here.

  • Facebook is used by around nine in 10 SMEs and large businesses, which is consistent with the 2017 results.
  • Instagram has become the second most popular platform for small businesses – up 8 points to 27%.
  • For medium businesses, LinkedIn is the second most popular platform (up 7 points to 48%) and for large businesses (down 9 points to 73%).
  • Twitter has stronger appeal to large businesses (up 5 points to 60%) and medium businesses (up 9 points to 45%) than small businesses (down 10 points to 14%).
  • Instagram’s penetration increased with business size – small businesses (27%), medium businesses (39%) and large businesses (46%).

Consumers want relevant content!

But I’ll sign off with this little informational morsel from the 2018 Yellow Social Media Report:

18% of people stopped following at least one company or brand on social media in the three months prior to the survey, with irrelevant or unappealing content the most likely factor stopping people from following a brand or company on social media.


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G'day, my name's Trevor Young. Subscribe to the PR Warrior blog today and receive regular updates from me on all things PR, social media, content marketing and thought leader branding.

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