Aging face of social media

Millions of older Australians are joining the social media revolution for the first time, according to the fourth annual snapshot of social media.

The 2014 Yellow™ Social Media Report revealed a wave of Australians aged 50-64 and 65+ have joined the online conversation. Some 58 per cent of internet users aged 50-64 now use social media, up from 52 per cent in 2013. In addition, almost one third of those online, aged 65+ use social media, compared with 24 per cent last year.

At the same time, younger people are becoming more active on image-based sites and platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat (the site that reported the highest number of weekly uses), as their old favourites, Facebook and Twitter, become more mainstream.

Both trends are having profound social implications, shifting the way friends and family interact. They also have significant impact on the way consumers are engaging with businesses.

Kelly Brough, Chief Digital Officer at Sensis, said: "We are seeing not only the evolution of communication, but also of relationships. The demographics of social media are shifting. Younger people are fast adopting new platforms while older people are now rapidly getting in on the act. It’s a major shift.

"Social media has really infiltrated every aspect of our day-to-day lives. We’re using it to keep in touch with friends and family particularly while we travel, to share photos and videos, to organise social activities, and to access the latest news as it happens. There’s also a big trend for parents moving online to keep an eye on what their kids are up to."

With 99 per cent of Australians now online, and 69 per cent using social media, the reasons for using social networking sites are on the rise. When, where and how we are using social media is also changing:

  • 46 per cent of social media users access one or more social networking sites at least once a day – 42 per cent say it’s the first thing they do in the morning, and 48 per cent say it is the last thing they do before they go to bed at night
  • 17 per cent of men access social networking sites on the toilet
  • 48 per cent of men and 49 per cent of women access social networking sites in the bedroom
  • Almost 10 per cent of users use networking sites to find a potential date
  • A third (31 per cent) of all users think they spend too much time on social networking sites
  • Facebook continues to be the most popular platform, used by 95 per cent of social networkers, with users spending over eight and a half hours a week on the site on average
  • Of the social networking sites that Australians stopped using, Twitter was the most mentioned
  • 71 per cent of social media users access social networking sites on their smartphones with the app the most popular access channel.
  • Of social media users, 39 per cent are logging in at work, 31 per cent on public transport, 30 per cent at restaurants and bars, and 26 per cent in the car.

Meanwhile, social media is increasingly driving consumer habits, presenting opportunities for businesses.

Ms Brough said: "A growing number of users look for reviews, discounts and offers online before they make purchases from businesses, particularly from small and medium sized firms. This is why we see a growing number of firms using social media to reach customers. Those that do not use it are missing out on an opportunity to grow their businesses. Businesses that do are a step ahead. The research shows they experience higher sales, better performance and profitability." Despite this, only 24 per cent of firms using social media actually have a plan in place, and a third do not know how much they have invested. Just 17 per cent of small firms formally measure the return on their social media investment.

"Firms really need to think about their strategies and track what they are doing. Without plans in place, their investment is at risk," said Ms Brough.

The landmark annual Yellow™ Social Media Report conducted by Sensis surveyed 800 Australians – aged 14 and upwards – and 1,950 Australian businesses to better understand when, how, where and why we’re using social media. For the survey, social media refers to social networking sites Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as online blogs and rating and review mechanisms.

For further information please contact: Darren Behar on 0458 001 296 or Kim Wiener on 0421 191 785.