According to the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report, 69% of Australians now use social networking sites, with 57% accessing social platforms every day.

But is all of that really true?

I mean, sure, for big brands with equally big budgets, it makes sense, but for smaller businesses, particularly local ones, is there really any significant benefit to having a Twitter or a Snapchat presence?

The answer, of course, will relate specifically to your business and goals, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when considering whether or not you need a social media presence.

1. It’s where people are spending time

According to the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report, 69% of Australians now use social networking sites, with 57% accessing social platforms every day. This is in line with global stats – according to Facebook’s latest earnings report, each user now spends 50 minutes per day, on average, across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. And with more people spending more time on social, more people are also seeking more information from the same source.

2. It’s where people search 

While most of the focus of a platform like Facebook is on connecting with family and friends, Facebook also facilitates more than 1.5 billion on platform searches every day. By comparison, Google facilitates around 3 billion queries per day, but even at half Google’s rate, that’s still a lot of people looking for a lot of answers on social. And that, of course, is only one platform - how many additional queries do you think are being asked on Twitter, LinkedIn? And, more importantly, if people are asking about your business or something in your field, what are they finding?

3. It provides social proof

Social proof is a powerful device, it’s why nightclubs make patrons line up outside even if they’re not busy, why TV shows played canned laughter tracks. If other people agree that something is good (or funny in the latter example), then you, automatically, will re-think and re-consider your own view - because if everyone else likes it, there must be something to it. The same can be seen in social media – a profile with a lot of Likes or followers will automatically garner a level of social proof. And given the amount of searches being conducted via social, that can be extremely valuable when looking to win over new business.

4. It provides an opportunity to listen to your audience

More than anything else, social media is ‘social’. People turn to social media to talk, to discuss their opinions, their experiences, their interests, and all of that information can be stored, studies, pulled apart to work out what’s of most interest to your target audience. For example, let’s say you’re a hairdressing salon with mostly local clients – probably no need for you to be on social, right? Did you know that interest in Mohawk braids on Pinterest is up 55% year-on-year? Or that sombre, bronde and balayage looks are the newest emerging colors during summer because they require fewer touch-ups? And those are just general trends, you can actually tune into very specific, regional conversations and insights related to your business and industry.

5. It’s where customer services is headed 

At their recent F8 Developer conference, Facebook outlined their new Bots for Messenger platform, which enables brands to create automated bots that can respond to a wide range of customer queries via message 24/7 and without human intervention. Imagine if you could get your specific question answered via message, quickly and easily. If you wanted to know, for example, what the latest shoes a store has in stock are, whether they have them in your size. In future, you’ll be able to get such answers – and what’s more, given messaging is so popular amongst younger users in particular, this will eventually become the expectation.   

While you may not see the immediate benefits of social media, while you may not think it’s necessary or important for your business, the stats show that it likely is, or will be as the next generation of digital natives, who’ve grown up on social, move into your target demographic market. At the least, it’s worth investigating to make yourself aware of what’s happening among your audience.


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