More Australians are using mobiles to connect to social media: report

New Sensis Yellow Social Media Report backs up expectations that more consumers are using social media sites from a smartphone or tablet device, but points to a disconnect in how Australian businesses use these platforms

The latest 2013 Yellow Social Media Report has confirmed what many marketers identified some time ago: That more Australians are connecting to social media using a mobile device instead of a laptop or PC.

According to the third annual report, the ratio of users accessing social media via smartphones has increased to 67 per cent, from 57 per cent in 2012. In contrast, the proportion of users on laptops and PCs decreased to 64 per cent and 46 per cent respectively.

Using tablet devices to access social media platforms also leapt to 35 per cent this year from last year’s 18 per cent. The latest figures follow the release of the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Online Advertising Expenditure Report for the March quarter, which also reported a surge in mobile advertising spend in Australia, and found tablet-based advertising exceeding smartphone spend.

Of those Australians using social sites, Sensis’ report claimed 95 per cent are on Facebook, spending seven hours a week on average, while 20 per cent use LinkedIn. Other popular sites are Instagram (16 per cent of users) and Twitter (15 per cent). The up-and-comer is Google+, which has grown from eight per cent of social media users to 15 per cent in the past year.

In addition, the Sensis report claimed 65 per cent of online Australians are now engaging with social media sites, up from 62 per cent in 2012, and 45 per cent of these are doing so on a daily basis. Mobile devices proved most popular with users below 50 years of age, while those over 50 still prefer to use computers to access social sites.

“We’re seeing major changes in the way Aussies are now using social media,” said Sensis executive GM of digital partnerships, Kelly Brough. “The average consumer is now more likely to post or tweet from a mobile device and the number of people using tablets has almost doubled in the past 12 months.”

Despite these clear indications of the power of social media, only 30 per cent of Australian small businesses and 47 per cent of medium-sized businesses have a social media presence today.

Twenty-nine per cent of small businesses and 24 per cent of medium businesses using social media in a corporate capacity do not have a strategy to drive traffic to their social media sites. Just 25 per cent of small business and 28 per cent of medium businesses are using social media measurements to detail the ROI of social media spend.

Surprisingly, annual investment in social media also decreased in the last year to an average of $1970 for small businesses and $11,780 for medium businesses (from $3410 and $16920 respectively).

Another objective of the Sensis research was to look at how influential social media is on consumer purchasing. Currently, 20 per cent of those surveyed use social media to research products and services. The report also found 74 per cent of social media users have read online reviews before they purchased goods or services, up from 68 per cent last year.

The proportion of social media research resulting in a purchase increased to 58 per cent, up 18 per cent year-on-year.

“This presents small and medium businesses with clear opportunities to build customer relationships and potential sales, however our research shows that businesses are not effectively engaging with these channels,” Brough commented.

The Yellow Social Media Report was done in partnership with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association and involved surveys of 932 Australian consumers along with 1959 business nationally between February and April this year.

Small businesses are those with less than 20 employees, while medium-sized businesses are those with up to 200.

Other Sensis research findings on social media behaviour
  • 65 per cent of Internet users have a presence on social media sites
  • 37 per cent of users check social media first thing in the morning
  • 42 per cent check before they go to bed
  • Six per cent check social media while they’re in the toilet
  • 34 per cent now log on to social media at work
  • 42 per cent use social while watching TV.

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