A new study has explored use of social media by Australians including details of interactions with businesses and brands, that offer insights to charities as well. Liz Henderson reveals the main findings.

A report into the use of social media by Australian people and businesses has found that almost half of consumers now access social media every day, and engagement with the communications channel is growing alongside the high uptake of internet-enabled technology.

According to the Sensis Social Media Report published in May, the average Australian owns three devices that connect to the internet: most commonly laptops (75%), smartphones (70%) and tablets (55%). And while slightly fewer Australian internet users were active on social media this year, people were spending more time on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Sixty-eight percent of internet users have a social media profile mostly used to catch up with friends and family and most (70%) access it using their smartphones, mainly via an app.

Facebook was, once again, the most popular social media platform and is visited by 93% of users who are now checking in for what amounts to a full working day (8.5 hours) each week. However, there was strong growth in use of LinkedIn (used by 28%), Instagram (26%) and Snapchat (15%).

Sites are also being checked more frequently – more than five times a day by 24% of users (up 19% from 2014).

Social media activity away from the home is increasing – in places such as at work, while travelling, and at restaurants and cafes.

The report didn’t look specifically at use of social media platforms by not-for-profit organisations, but its insights into use by businesses – and consumer attitudes to and interactions with business on social media – are food for thought for charities.

Interesting insights included that:

  • 62% of people are open to changing their opinion of a business if it responds to negative feedback on social media.
  • 32% follow brands and businesses.
  • Half of those using social media to research products and services said they made a purchase and two-thirds did so online, showing people are engaging with social media as part of deciding which transactions to make online.
  • While most businesses are using social media to try to start two-way communication or seeking comments, consumers are more interested in tangible incentives like discounts, giveaways and coupons.
  • Attitudes to business advertising on social media is mixed with 32% liking sponsored posts from businesses they are following and 38% not minding seeing ads, with 42% occasionally clicking on ads to find out more.

Figure A: When and where Australians use social media (Source: Sensis)

Where and when people socially network

Figure B: Why people access social media (Source: Sensis)

Reasons for using social media

Study methodology

Sensis surveyed 800 Australian consumers and 1,100 Australian businesses for the fifth year of its study on use of social media channels.

Click here to download the full report.

Liz Henderson is editor of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine

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