Sensis surveyed 800 Australian consumers and 1,100 Australian businesses to continue this landmark study on how social media channels are being used. For the purposes of this report, the term “social media” refers to: • Social networking websites including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. • Online blogs and online rating and review mechanisms. The findings detailed in this report aim to help Australian businesses to make more informed decisions about how to use these channels to engage with consumers.
Australians and social media
Australians continue to embrace technology through use of multiple internet enabled devices. The average Australian owns three such devices with laptops (75%), smartphones (70%) and tablets (55%) most prevalent.
The way we connect continues to evolve with social media still playing a significant role in many people’s lives. 68% of internet users have a social media profile and they mainly use it to catch up with friends and family. It’s becoming more prevalent in our daily lives as a majority (70%) are using their smartphone to access it (mainly through an app). Hence it is not surprising that the frequency of use is increasing - 24% check in more than 5 times a day which is up from 19% - but overall use appears to have plateaued as there has been no growth in social media use relative to last year when 69% had a social media profile.
Facebook continues to dominate the social media space, capturing 93% of users and they spend an average of eight and a half hours a week on the site. Quite a few have profiles on LinkedIn (28%), Instagram (26%) and Google+ (23%) with use of each platform continuing to grow.
Social media is a forum which is generally used for browsing and many consumers check in to keep their ‘finger on the pulse’, giving them a real time perspective of what is happening around them. This provides businesses with huge potential to engage and interact with the public.
From a commercial perspective, a solid minority of Australians who use this media follow brands and businesses (32%), access offers and promotions (20%) or conduct research about products and services they want to buy (19%) which means they are willing to engage. In fact, half of those who are using social media to research products and services said they made a purchase and two thirds of them made that purchase online.
Therefore, it remains paramount for businesses and marketers to establish a connection by engaging with them in a meaningful way if they want to capitalise on this opportunity. For example, stories about the brand or its product and services, shared in a compelling format (i.e. video or imagery) help to establish a positive connection and this is one of the major advantages of social media.
Tangible benefits also attract consumers like discounts, give-aways and coupons but some are also seeking event invitations, tips and advice or an opportunity to provide feedback.
Attitudes towards businesses advertising on social media remain mixed but there are still quite a few who like sponsored posts from businesses they follow (32%) or don’t mind seeing ads (38%) which they click on occasionally to find out more (42%). This suggests paid advertising or sponsorship is reasonably effective for targeting consumers of interest although it’s also likely to be ignored by many.
Blogs and reviews continue to influence buying decisions, with over half of social media users (55%) reading reviews before making a purchase, which is less prevalent than the past few years. Most who read reviews look at up to 5 before making a decision. However, there remains just over a quarter of online users who post blogs or reviews (27%) and their shared experiences can influence potential buyer’s decisions.