The results of the Sensis Social Media Report for May 2015 have just been released and clearly show there’s still substantial potential for businesses to use social media to engage with customers, find out more about them and drive sales.

The research, which surveyed 1,100 business owners and 800 consumers about their attitudes to social media and the internet, found consumers are much more engaged with social media than businesses are.

According to the results, 68 per cent of consumers have a social media profile, compared to just 33 per cent of businesses. But interestingly, consumer social media use has plateaued since last year.

Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise consumers have a voracious appetite for social media: 79 per cent of internet users access it daily, with 52 per cent accessing five times a day and 27 per cent accessing it between one and four times a day.

For businesses, most with a social media profile have a Facebook page, and larger businesses are more likely than small businesses to have a Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile.

In terms of the way consumers interact with businesses on social media, only 32 per cent follow brands or businesses on social network. Of those that do use social media to engage with brands, 20 per cent access offers, whereas 19 per cent use it to research products. The most influential channel appears to be blogs, with 55 per cent of social media users reading reviews on blogs before making a purchase.

There’s still enormous potential for businesses to become more strategic about their approach to digital technologies and social media.

According to the results of the research just under half (49 per cent) of small businesses and 45 per cent of larger businesses have invested in social media, but can’t quantify the benefit. Just 16 per cent of small businesses and 29 per cent of larger businesses measure their return on investment in social media.

Moreover, 20 per cent of small businesses have developed a strategic social media plan, although this figure rises to 73 per cent for larger businesses.

However, the research clearly shows the benefits of being strategic about social: those businesses that embrace social media are more confident about their business prospects and reported better sales, profitability and employment performance.

The message is clear: if your business has not yet thought about how to properly develop a social media plan, now’s the time to explore this important marketing channel, to help understand customer requirements and pursue growth opportunities.

This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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