There has been a large amount of effort spent on social media, and a large amount of effort in convincing business owners on the importance of being “social” online. Certainly many Australian accountants are being bombarded not only with “Compliance is dead so move to business consulting” messages, but almost at the same pace there are messages that any Accounting firm of the future needs to have a digital strategy, and that digital strategy needs to incorporate a strong social media presence.
A recent report reveals some interesting trends that may come as some surprise. There is a growing divide between the number of businesses and consumers using social media
As expected, there is an increase in smartphone ownership, with 81% now preferring to use their device to access social media, as opposed to a laptop (30%) or desktop (28%).
Virtually everybody in the sample uses the Internet and more than half (56%) do so more than five times per day. The dominant barrier to social media use remains lack of interest or appeal but almost eight in 10 Internet users now have a social media profile (79%),
Twitter continues to rise in popularity lifting from 19% to 32% in terms of usage, while Instagram has risen from 31% to 46%. Snapchat has almost doubled in popularity, jumping from 22% to 40% of social media users. Penetration of LinkedIn has dropped for the second year in succession, down from 28% in 2015 to 24% last year to 18% now. Google+ (10%) was unchanged
The proportion of people claiming to follow a social networking group associated with a brand or business fell from 36% to 24%. However, those who do follow businesses were increasingly after discounts (up from 41% to 54%) and give-aways (up from 30% to 48%).
There were increased levels of trust for brands that interact with customers in a positive way on social media (up from 52% to 64%) and businesses with engaging and relevant content (up from 52% to 63%). Factors most likely to deter people from following a company or brand include irrelevant or unappealing content, excessive content and too many ads.
Facebook remains almost universal (94%) among social media users. However, the average number of times people access Facebook has fallen from 32 times per week to 25
While the majority of people are on social media to keep in contact with their family and friends (89%), there is also a negative side, with people in regional areas more likely to have witnessed bullying or harassment on social media (23% vs 15%) and twice as likely to have been bullied themselves (9% vs 4%).
Regarding blogs, there has been an overall reduction in blog posting from 24% to 21% from 2011 to 2014.
The above has been extracted from Chapter 1 relating to Australians and Social Media, while Chapter 2 (from page 56 onwards) relates to Australian Businesses and Social Media. This part too is an interesting read. Some of the results in Chapter 2 indicate larger firms are moving away from investing in social media.
Our reading of the above report is that social media isn’t the silver bullet to solve basic underlying issues in a firm. A social media strategy needs to be present for an entity, though measuring success of the strategy remains difficult, and the amount of garbage on the internet seems to be increasing.