There is one very clear conclusion that can be drawn from this report: the amount of consumers on social media continues to rise, and the amount of time they spend on social media continues to increase. Yet, despite the growing trend, Australian businesses are still ‘missing the mark’ when it comes to incorporating social media into their marketing strategy.

The stats gathered by the research conducted by Sensis proves this point:

  • 29% of small businesses and 24% of medium businesses that use social media do not have a strategy to drive traffic to their social media sites
  • Only 25% of small business and 28% of medium businesses that use social media measure social media ROI
  • Investment in social media decreased in the last year with small businesses spending on average $1,970 (down from $3,410 in 2012) and medium businesses $11,780 annually (down from $16,920 in 2012)
  • Discounts and giveaways are the key reasons why consumers follow brands, however, only 28% of small businesses (down from 34% in 2012) and 33% (up from 27% in 2012) of medium businesses have social media sites offer such incentives

In order to generate an increase in ROI from social media, businesses must drive consumers to their websites. Social media metrics such as followers, likes, retweets, pins, etc has little value to a business if it doesn’t drive traffic to the company/brand website where purchases can be made. There’s a large amount of consumers who research a brand on social media before purchasing. Here’s what this report found:

  • 20% of people now use social media as a tool to research products or services (up from 16% in 2012)
  • 74% of consumers have read online reviews (up from 68% in 2012), and read an average of four before making a purchase decision
  • The proportion of social media research that resulted in a purchase increased to 58% (up from 40% in 2012)

Perhaps the most notable trend highlighted in the recently published Sensis SMB Report is the rise of mobile. More and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access social media sites, signifying a shift from laptop and PC usage.

According to the report:

  • 67% of social media users are now using smartphones to access social media (up from 53% in 2012); while the proportion using laptops and PCs decreased to 64% (down from 69% in 2012) and 46% (down from 54% in 2012)
  • 35% access social media through tablets (nearly doubled from 18% in 2012)
This Sensis report came out only a couple weeks ago, and it’s fair to say that the next yearly report in May 2014 will show how these trends continued. Thus, it’s essential for businesses to start aiming at their target customers on social media, and start hitting the mark.