More Australian SMBs embracing social media to increase sales

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The number of small to medium-sized businesses with a social media presence has grown this year, up from 31 percent to 48 percent, according to the 2016 Social Media Report.

The digital team at Sensis surveyed 800 Australian consumers and 1,100 Australian businesses and found the gap was narrowing between businesses with a Facebook presence.

Alice Mentiplay, digital manager at Sensis, said the results showed businesses were maturing in their adoption of social media strategies, however SMBs still had some way to go as only around a third had a strategic plan, compared to three-quarters of large businesses.

Australian consumers are spending more time on social media, with 57 percent of people accessing social media every day or most days, and 26 percent of people checking social media up to five times per day.

“Capturing their attention, whether it be through advertising, organic posts, discounts or give-aways are all valid, however, it is important businesses have a strategy first and understand the return on investment they are seeking.”

Knowing your audience demographics is important. The report found 18-29 year olds are more likely to use visual platforms such as Facebook, Instagramand Snapchat, while 40-49 year olds primarily use Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

“The obvious opportunity is for SMBs to increase their presence on social media in order to reach their audience and increase sales, however they have to be smart about it and ensure the content is relevant, up to date and targeted,” said Mentiplay.

The report found that consumers are 50 percent more likely to trust a brand if it interacts in a positive way on social media, they find the content posted engaging and relevant and content is regularly updated.

While Facebook dominates as the most likely location for businesses to advertise – with eight out of 10 SMBs choosing to spend their advertising dollars there – the report found LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are all gaining traction as channels for advertising.

Around 60 percent of small and medium-sized businesses believe social media investment will contribute to an increase in sales.

Not surprisingly, 90 percent of small businesses manage their own social media channels rather than outsourcing to an agency or third-party.

“Developing a social media strategy is one thing, having someone to execute it who knows your brand is another, and this year we are seeing more businesses bring that function in-house,” said Mentiplay.

“Utilising tools to assist with scheduling your posts is important, especially when you consider the most popular times of day to access social media are in the evening and early in the morning – well outside the 9 to 5 work day.”