Wednesday, 10 April 2013 21:26

Are Australian businesses missing out on social media opportunities?

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Australian businesses are failing to take advantage of online opportunities with less than a quarter utilising the range of social media opportunities available.

New research by Telstra reveals that about three quarters of Australian SMEs are failing to capture new opportunities through social media.

Over one thousand firms were surveyed, with only 24 per cent really embracing social media and seeing the benefits of an online presence. Most believed social media neither helped nor hindered them in their business pursuits. A further 12 per cent believed social media could actually hurt their business success.

Social media can be a vital part of a business’s communication strategy, and there are ways in which small and medium companies can have an advantage over larger organisations. With smaller businesses, online media often allows customers to deal direct with the business owner – a far cry from the perception of ‘faceless’ multinationals.

Small business owners often maintain an online presence and communicate with customers through their own personal social media accounts, rather than having a social media ‘brand’. This personal touch is popular with customers, who want to see the human side to a business or brand. Smaller companies actually have the advantage when customers know they are dealing with the business owner themselves - this produces a real connection with the customer and takes social media to a much more personal level, as well as adding their own personality to the brand.

With 62 per cent of adults worldwide using social media, Group managing director of Telstra Business, Will Irving, maintains SMEs who ignore this powerful tool are missing out.

"In a digital age where smartphones and tablets are used on a daily basis, we know customers expect a company to have a social media presence," he said.

"Successful Australian businesses are having a two-way conversation with customers online, allowing them to connect and engage on a personal level, either by providing real time customer service or highlighting relevant new products."

Customers are looking for relevant engaging information through social media and providing this is reflected in increased sales and a growing customer base. Small business owners are ideally placed to provide this in a personal and effective manner.