by Byron Connolly

Businesses back off social media

May 21, 20153 mins
Technology Industry

The number of large organisations in Australia with a social media presence has dropped by 21 per cent year-on-year with most unlikely to have a strategy around social platforms or measure their return on investment.

This was a key finding of a new Sensis survey of 1,100 businesses and 800 consumers. Only 56 per cent of large businesses surveyed had a social media presence this year compared to 77 per cent last year.

In contrast, the number of small and medium businesses with a social media presence also dropped from 37 per cent to 31 per cent over the same period. Only 29 per cent of large businesses are measuring return on investment from social media programs.

Sensis’ GM of digital, Evan Ravensdale, told CIO that as social media becomes more fragmented, it takes much more effort and investment for large companies to engagement their target audiences.

“We’re seeing from the businesses we work with, that you now have to pay to get the reach you once achieved organically. So as businesses invest more, they are more focussed on the question of return on investment.

“Before any business embarks on social, they need to have clear and realistic objectives of what they can achieve. They also need to be prepared to invest for the long haul and realise that social can be a powerful tool to build brand loyalty over time,” he said.

He added that the biggest risk of not being social for large businesses is that they are not active participants in the conversation that is happening online about their organisations.

Ratings and reviews on social channels should be a focus for businesses that want to retain customers, he said. In fact, 62 per cent of customers are open to changing their opinion of a business if it responds to feedback on social media, and twice as many consumers (68 per cent) are engaged with social media than businesses (33 per cent).

“Looking longer term, you could be losing your competitive advantage [if you don’t engage],” he said.

“Where once brand awareness was mostly driven by advertising on TV and radio, as people have moved online in ever larger numbers, businesses need to ensure that they are visible and active where their customers are.”

They should invest in channels that are a match between their business and customer type, he said.

“While Facebook still dominates with 93 per cent of users, the landscape has significantly changed. Businesses want to be talking to the right people at the right times and measuring what impact their marketing spend is having.

“In an environment where fresh content is a key driver for impressions, the statistics in the report on consumers’ viewing habits (45 per cent when waking up and 41 per cent before bed) don’t fit with a strategy that employs a social media manager from nine to five,” he said.

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