Now, I don’t know about you but I have mixed feelings about the latest findings of one of the largest Australian social media surveys. For starters, I don’t access social media on the toilet – apparently 6% of Australians do, gross! I do access social networking sites more than five times a day – but it is a big part of my job but the study says only 1 in 10 access social media this frequently. I’m open to a friend request on Facebook from my boss but am not currently ‘connected’ with her – I think it depends on the person and the relationship – the study says most Aussies would avoid this. And lastly, 21 times a week on Facebook isn’t surprising to me – everyone I know is on Facebook and with the rise of mobile I think this number will keep growing. So, my experience and opinions are divided when compared with the results.

The one part of the social media puzzle I am very sure about is that businesses, particularly small ones, are missing out on a number of easy, cheap and potentially highly rewarding opportunities when it comes to using social media to connect with customers online. According to the study, many Australian small and medium businesses still don’t have a ‘social media strategy’ or know if it is helping them achieve their business objectives. Usage is up from 14% to 27% which is great to see, and perhaps tells us that social media is increasingly becoming a part of the marketing mix however I think there’s room to do better. The study also shows investment has increased – so we’re heading in the right direction. But I am convinced there are still too many small businesses confused about exactly what to use the online networking sites for.

I thought it would be helpful to take a look at what Australian’s want when they visit a business or brand social networking site, page or account – understanding what consumers want from your brand is a very good place to start:

  • 64% want discounts
  • 54% want giveaways
  • 48% want product information
  • 41% want tips and advice
  • 41% want coupons
  • 38% want invitations to events
  • 31% want to give feedback
  • 30% want information about a company
  • 30% want industry information

So, keeping these things in mind should tell you a little bit about what businesses should be posting for their customers via social networking channels. My advice is to give your online communities a unique reason to follow your brand page/account. 1 in 4 Aussies follow a brand page so the opportunity is obvious for business. Make your online communities feel a bit special for being one of your online friends or fans – this will ensure they visit your page often when there’s an element of exclusivity. I like to see brands offering a discount ‘for our Facebook fans only’ – this is a smart way to engage your online community and make sure they’re getting value from being your friend or a fan.

The Yellow social media report is a great read for anyone interested in finding out a little bit more about how Australian’s and Aussie businesses are using social media. It’s a telling story and it’s great to see so many Aussie businesses getting involved. You can download a copy of the PDF here.

Click here to see an infographic we made to highlight some of the findings from the Yellow™ Social Media Report – May-June 2012.