Opportunity for Small Businesses to get a Jump on Competitors With Social Media

Thursday, 24/02/2011

An opportunity exists for Australian small business owners to lead the pack in embracing social media, with 76 per cent of small businesses yet to adopt tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

According to the BOQ Straight Talk Survey, a regular nation-wide survey that canvasses the views and experiences of small business owners, the majority of Australian small business owners are not as yet enjoying the benefits of the social media trend. 

Of the small businesses surveyed only 15 per cent used Facebook and three per cent used LinkedIn as part of any communications or marketing program with customers.  

BOQ Chief Operating Officer Ram Kangatharan said the survey had found that Australian small businesses were yet to embrace social media, despite its increasing popularity as a communication tool. 

“I would expect that social media will only increase in usage following its success as a communication tool during the recent floods in Queensland. 

“We are already seeing some small businesses creating customer networks on facebook and using these tools to keep customers informed of special offers and upcoming sales, for example, and I think this kind of usage will only increase as small businesses become more comfortable with the technology. 

“I have no doubt that time plays a part in preventing small businesses from adopting this technology,” said Mr Kangatharan.  “Small business owners and managers are often required to work long hours simply to keep their business functioning. The concept of taking more time to not only communicate via social media but simply understand its potential is a barrier that is obviously too great for most Australian small business owners right now.” 

“The risk of course is that if small business owners aren’t using social media tools to interact with their customers then their big business counterparts, or SME competitors who have become early adopters of the new technology, may be gaining a competitive advantage. “ 

The relationship between small business owners and the web is however very much alive and kicking. In stark contrast to social media adoption, the majority of businesses surveyed had adopted some form of online presence with 77.6 per cent of business having created, or outsourced the creation of their own website. 

“It is now clear that most small business see the internet as another relatively cost effective method to reaching their customer base. 80 per cent of businesses surveyed believed that having an online presence has been beneficial to their business.” 

Of those that did not have a website, over 60 per cent stated that time was again the primary barrier to establishing an online presence. 

“Even with 40 per cent of businesses surveyed outsourcing key technology functions the barrier to adoption was again predominantly time. It seems that even the best new technology cannot create more time in the day for the average small business owner,” said Mr Kangatharan. 

The Bank of Queensland Straight Talk Survey was sent to hundreds of the Bank’s small business clients across the country.

Key findings:

• 76% of small businesses don’t use any form of online media i.e. Facebook or Twitter
• 31% of those small business that do use social media predominantly use it for business development and marketing
• 77.6% of Australian small businesses have an online presence i.e. website
• 80% of Australian small businesses believe that having an online presence has helped their business