Five lessons for Australian businesses from the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report

The internet is awash with statistics about social media usage. However, it’s rarer to get insights into the specific social media habits of Australians. So the arrival of the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report provides a treasure trove of information that you can turn to the advantage of your business. Here are five of the big lessons you can start applying today:

It’s not a myth: Australians are on social media in record numbers.

Eighty-seven percent of Australians access the internet every day. Of those people, 69% use social media. Don’t worry, I’ve done the maths for you - that’s about 13.8 million Australians. 

And the trend cuts across demographics and geography. Thirty-five percent of Australian social media users aged over 65 check social media a few times a week or more. That is a significant number by itself, but beware of the demographic shift. Coming up behind them is a far larger cohort of more sophisticated social media users: 56% of users between the ages of 50 and 64 check social media a few times per week or more.

Men and women use social media in roughly even numbers. And if you thought social media was the exclusive domain of city-dwellers, think again: there is almost no difference between city and country rates of social media use. But more on that later.

This is the most important lesson from the whole report: it’s time to start taking your business’ social media seriously. It isn’t a passing fad. This report came from Sensis, a company that still thinks phone books are a thing that people need. If they are getting on board with social media, it’s a sure sign that you should too.

Facebook rules the roost.

The report confirms what most people already know; Facebook remains the king of social media platforms. A staggering 95% of Australian social media users are on Facebook - a lot. The typical Facebook user now spends more than twelve-and-a-half hours per week on the platform.

Instagram continues to enjoy a popular following, with 31% of Australian social media users on the platform.

The other trend to watch is the continuing rise of Snapchat, which this year has followed the global trend and overtaken Twitter to become the third most used social media platform in Australia.

The takeaway for your business is to choose the platforms that reach your audience. For example, Snapchat skews heavily towards the 18-29 demographic. But one way or the other, Facebook is probably going to be part of your mix. Like it or not, its reach is too large to ignore.

Post first thing in the morning, and in the evening.

More than 60% of respondents said they used social media after work or in the evenings. The next most popular time was first thing in the morning.

The other thing to remember is that you can get far more detail on when your particular audience is active on social media. Facebook, and more recently Instagram, both offer such insights.

Being on social media isn’t enough. You have to get good at it.

If your business is on social media, that’s fantastic. But if there are tumbleweeds blowing through your newsfeed, and weeks go by without any new posts, it’s time to get busy. The Sensis report finds consumers are more likely to trust a brand if:

  • it interacts in a positive way with its customers on social media (52%)
  • they find the content posted engaging and relevant (52%)
  • they regularly update their content (51%)

The good news is that if you do these things well, there is an opportunity to put your business ahead of the competition and grow a loyal, engaged following for your brand.

City versus country

I’ve already mentioned there is almost no difference between city and country rates of social media use in Australia. But there’s more. Just over half of small to medium businesses in regional areas reported having a social media presence, leading their city counterparts (46%).

The takeaway here is that social media usage in Australian regional areas is both high and sophisticated. If you are a business based in a regional or rural area (or you want to target people in these areas), being on social media is a worthwhile investment.

Bonus advice

All the statistics in this post come from the Sensis Social Media Report. It’s well worth taking the time to read the full document, but seeing all of this data can also be overwhelming. If your first response is ‘oh crap! So much to do!’ before launching into an exhausting flurry of posting to Facebook...stop.

Yes, half of all small businesses are on social media, and you don’t want to get left behind. But have you considered the alternative perspective? That means half of all small businesses are not on social media. Some of those businesses are your competition - what an opportunity! Don’t get down on yourself. There’s plenty of time to grab this opportunity with both hands. And if you need some guidance along the way, feel free to get in touch.