When you consider that nearly three quarters of Australians are now on social media, it’s clear this is more than just a passing fad.

The social media landscape in Australia continues to evolve rapidly for both consumers and businesses. When you consider that nearly three quarters of Australians are now on social media, it’s clear this is more than just a passing fad.

Indeed, Australians are now spending more than half a day per week (12.5 hours) on Facebook alone, up four hours from last year. This should be a wake-up call for businesses that aren’t yet on social media – this is where your customers are, and this is where you can engage with them.

This is especially pertinent considering frequency of access is increasing, with most consumers accessing social media sites every day or multiple times per day. And it seems like many businesses are taking notice, with an upsurge in the number with a social media presence for all business sizes (31% to 48% for SMBs, and 56% to 79% for large businesses). 

Of those not yet on social, a significant number plan on establishing a presence within the next year, highlighting that many businesses sense the risk of being left behind. There is still a gap, though, in how frequently consumers are using and engaging with social media as compared to businesses. This disconnect is a key opportunity for Australian businesses to get an edge on their competitors.

Social media is one of the only digital avenues where businesses can have a two-way communication with customers, giving them the opportunity to receive feedback, monitor sentiment and build a relatable brand personality. They can do all of this with minimal marketing spend, making social media one of the easiest and most cost effective channels to get in front of customers.

It’s important businesses consider how consumers are accessing social media when considering their approach. For the first time ever, smartphones are the most popular device owned by consumers, having eclipsed laptops. When creating content, businesses must take into consideration where, when and how their audience is going to absorb that information and have a “mobile first” mentality.

But beyond optimising content for mobile, businesses should first have a clear understanding of who their target audience is. Younger people are still using social media differently to the older demographic, with a definite skew towards more visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for 18 to 29 year olds, and LinkedIn and Google+ for 40 to 49 year olds.

Consumers can be overwhelmed by the amount of content appearing in their feeds, and it’s no secret that the state of social media in 2016 means many platforms appear to give preference to brands that pay the most money for their content to be seen. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to ensure the content you produce – whether it be organic or paid – provides something of value to your audience.

Large businesses appear to understand this importance, with more than twice as many measuring their return on investment for social media as last year (29% to 61%). However, ROI measurement remains very low amongst SMBs (21% for small and 27% for medium).

Maintaining a business presence on social media is likely to be even more data driven in the future, with a range of new tools coming on line to help businesses manage their social media presence. By choosing the right tools and the right partners, there are some fantastic opportunities for savvy small business owners to stand out and succeed on social.

We hope you enjoy the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report – please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share key insights, and join in the discussion using #SensisSocial.

Alice Mentiplay is General Manager Digital at Sensis 

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