Earlier this month Sensis, in conjunction with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), released the Yellow Social Media Report, a detailed paper examining how Australian consumers and brands are using social media.
With a sample group of 1016 consumers and 1951 businesses, the report also offered insights into how local brands are changing their approach to social.
We spoke with Senis Group Manager Simon Betschel about what the report says about the local social media landscape, and his predictions for what's next.
Some findings in the report aren’t revelations – Facebook remains the dominant social media platform with a whopping 97% of social media users on the site. Others results are more unexpected, such as the proportion of Australians using LinkedIn, which grew from 9% to 16% in the past year.
Betschel said he was most surprised at the rise of usage in individuals.
“The report shows people are using social media to bookend their days - first thing in the morning and before they go to bed at night. This shows that social media is now mainstream, and brands are reacting to that.”
While 79% of large businesses have a social media presence, only 27% of small businesses and 34% are using social media to promote their brand.
However, businesses are spending more on social across the board. Small businesses are spending an average of $3410 this year (up $1360 from the previous year) while medium businesses are expecting to spend $16,920 and large businesses $100,000 (however this represents, on average, 5% of total marketing budget).
Betschel says this reflects business' growing confidence in social leading to increased sales, tapping into the 62% of online Australians who currently use social media.
Despite the increases in social spending, many businesses do not have a strategy to direct traffic to their sites or measure return on investment (ROI).
Just over one in four SMEs and 39% of large businesses formally measure the ROI on social media investment. The most popular measurement is by monitoring the number of responses on social media (54% for large businesses) while most businesses measure social media success by the number of likes, followers and subscribers they have (41% for medium businesses).
Betschel says brands should identify what their consumers are after, and tailor content around these interests. For example, 64% of consumers want a form of discount from businesses on social media, followed by 54% who was giveways and 48% after product information. Undertanding these needs can help shaping a relevant message.
Betschel sees brands increasingly turning to content to tell their stories.
“Businesses need to invest in quality content and adverting. You can’t make up for poor quality content with marketing, likewise you can’t expect people to find content organically. We see real success when brands have got great content and then spend on advertising and strategy.”
When asked about the future of social media in Australia for brands and consumers, Betschel sees more diversification in the platforms.
“The big four (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn) will become the big eight, as platforms like Instagram and Pinterest gain traction.”
He also sees that as brands invest more in social, strategy and ROI are becoming increasingly important.
"Brands want more measurability. For example, how much is a tweet worth, compared to a retweet? Or a Facebook like over a comment?"
To download the Yellow Paper Social Media Report visit sensis.com.au.