Sensis Australia recently released it’s Social Media Report, updated for 2015. The report gives a very interesting insight into how Australian people and businesses are using social media.
Here is a snapshot of the most interesting findings of the business section, comparing small, medium and large businesses.
These cover: % of Businesses with a social media presence, Use of Social Media Platforms, % of Businesses who have paid to advertise on Social, Social Media Budgets, % of Marketing Budget Spent on Social and Social Media ROI.
Evan Ravensdale is the GM YP Digital Product & Brand at Sensis. I recently had the opportunity to interview Evan and ask him about the Australian Business Use of Social Media section of the report and its implications. His answers are detailed below.
The full report can be downloaded here
- Small, medium & large businesses have had a significant drop in the % who have a social media presence in 2015 vs 2014. What is driving this? A lot of people jumped on the social media bandwagon early on. However, uncertainty around ROI and the time investment needed to maintain a meaningful presence may be factors in this change. Only 17% of people are actually measuring ROI, according to the Sensis Social Media Report, so I would think that the lack of visibility on results would directly impact on overall usage.
- Facebook is the dominant social media tool across all businesses. However as the size of the business increases, the more likely they are to use additional social media platforms besides Facebook. Why is this the case? Are large businesses using social media more strategically or is it a matter of additional resourcing (people & $$$). Resourcing absolutely comes into play when it comes to social media. Facebook is one of the oldest of all the social media channels that businesses are using and people use it in their personal lives, so there is familiarity with how it works. As for using additional platforms, they are all content-hungry so the more activity your business is undertaking (ie growth), the more you have to talk about. We recommend smaller businesses focus on one channel and do it well before adding more platforms. LinkedIn has had a rapid rise as a tool for larger businesses, perhaps because it is seen as a bit more ‘corporate’ than Facebook. That said, for small businesses with a B2B focus, LinkedIn may be the best social channel to focus on.
- Why are the manufacturing, building and construction sectors lowest in having a social media presence whilst in contrast cultural, recreational& personal services along with access, cafes and restaurants have the highest social media presence? The former category is far more a B2B type of business, whereas recreation, restaurants, etc are B2C. A lot of the time, their social media success is driven by their customers uploading photos and posting feedback on their channels. Instagram pictures of the latest crane or earth mover are not that common.
- What’s driving a relatively small number of SME’s offering discounts and coupons to consumers despite it being a key reason why consumers connect with businesses on social media? How many Shop-a-Dockets have you stuck on the fridge and forgotten every time you walk out of the house? You would think that digital coupons would make life easier as they are always available on your phone but I think it’s still an area of uncertainty and unfamiliarity in the Australian market. Coupons have received a fair share of bad press for SMEs – think of the number of Groupon horror stories where a business has been overwhelmed by a flood of coupon-wielding customers and have turned off a huge number of customers as a result. The return is there for customers but it also needs to be a two-way equation for the businesses. Unfortunately, the majority of models we have in Australia at the moment don’t seem to work that way.
- Large businesses are far more likely to engage with people who provide feedback about their business on ratings and reviews compared to small and medium businesses. Is this driven by them having a presence on a greater number of social media platforms as well as a greater amount of resource – time & $$ to respond? Again, resources play a part in this. I also think a lot of businesses don’t have a clear understanding of how ratings and reviews can be a very positive thing for their business. Many businesses are terrified that one negative review can seriously damage their business and as a consequence, shy away from them. The more advanced ones understand a negative review gives you an opportunity to interact with your customers directly, improve your product or service and demonstrate authenticity to your wider customer base. In fact, the latest Sensis Social Media Report showed that 62% of customers open to changing their opinion of a business if it responds to feedback on social media. But it does take dedicated time and a clear response strategy, so that could explain why smaller businesses struggle with ratings and reviews.
- Interestingly, large businesses found advertising on Facebook to be far more effective than medium and small businesses. Do large businesses use the advertising more strategically and/or have greater resources to conduct more analyses of what didn’t work and why? I think you are exactly right – having the resources to conduct analysis means you can test and learn while a campaign is live and make the necessary adjustments as you go. That will immediately start to make your campaigns more effective.
- There has been a significant shift in large businesses in 2015 for who is responsible for managing social media presence. Specifically, the marketing department has declined whilst the communications department has increased. What is contributing to this? I think the changing nature in the way consumers are interacting with social media has a direct influence on this. They have a greater understanding of when they are being ‘marketed’ to than they did even five years ago. Simultaneously, we’ve seen brands’ reputations made and trashed over their handling of social media interaction. Social media is now widely understood to be one of the voices of your brand and therefore needs to be managed by those custodians – the communications departments. It is different for brands actively advertising on social media, of course. For example, M&Ms and Snickers have run phenomenally successful social media campaigns over the past few years. Those types of activity still need to be led by the marketing department.
- Large businesses seem to be more likely to use a multitude of methods to drive traffic to their social media presence. Does this suggest that larger businesses are a bit more strategic in using social media? It’s a combination of factors. Yes, you do need to be more strategic to drive traffic via different means. But you also need to have a great understanding of or management of SEO and SEM. As you mentioned previously, the larger businesses seem to have a greater spread of social channels which will of course drive more traffic from different areas. Of course, resourcing comes into play here as well – larger businesses have the capacity to use their people to align a larger number of activities around their social presence.
- The quoted $$ amount invested in social media in 2015 for medium and large businesses vs 2014 is significantly less. Does this suggest they have been over investing or not getting the ROI they have been expecting? On the other hand it is taking up a greater % of the marketing budget in 2015. Maybe in absolute $$ they have less marketing funds vs 2014 but are allocating a higher % of what they do have to social media? I think it’s probably a combination of a higher % allocation of a smaller budget, but also that businesses are becoming smarter (i.e. more efficient) in how they spend their money on social… there has been a fair amount of testing and learning going on, so businesses are starting to put their spend where they have found it works best and cutting off the spend that isn’t working for them.
- Does the data suggest that there are multiple subjective methods of measuring success on social media vs no clear method of measuring success or maybe a combination of the two. It’s a funny contradiction because digital marketing gives you some of the most accountable methods of measurement we’ve ever seen yet measuring ROI on social media campaigns is one of the areas of greatest confusion for business owners. Social advertising offers you the ability to accurately track performance. Similarly, if you are using SEO or SEM (data based), the metrics are very clear and easy to measure. If you are running a creative ot community engagement campaign (sentiment-based), that’s where ROI becomes a bit more difficult to assess and subjectiveness comes into play. I think the marcomms industry as a whole is struggling with these at the moment.
by Konrad Markham
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