Customers are increasingly spending more time on social media, and discussing businesses, brands and experiences with their friends and networks. As a medium it is not purely 'social', it is an increasingly serious business channel for consumers.
KPMG Australia conducted research into organisations around the globe already using social media, to understand their current experiences and future plans. Results show Australia has not kept up with other countries in adopting social media into their normal business channels, and therefore capitalising on opportunities to deal directly with their customers.
"Compared with other countries, Australian businesses are not capitalising on this on-line 'buzz' to listen to what their customers are saying, or to sell their products and services. Given Australians are one of the highest users of social media networks in the world, our businesses have a huge advantage in being able to leverage this channel for a business benefit, but at the moment, they are lagging behind," said Malcolm Alder, National Managing Partner for KPMG’s Digital Economy practice.
"Organisations cannot afford not to be listening to what is being said about them, and at some point, interacting with customers in the space where they are spending their time – and increasingly, their money too," Alder said. "Our analysis demonstrated that we can look at the experiences of both early business adopters and our overseas counterparts, to learn from them. If businesses do not get on board quickly, they may very well be left behind."
Realising the opportunity social media holds for our local businesses has led KPMG to develop a practical guide to assist companies in getting started in integrating social media beyond a marketing function and utilising it as a tool to really speak directly with current and potential customers.
Some of the top tips include strategies, such as:
- listening is a key early and ongoing part of effective social media engagement
- experimentation and early learning is a natural part of involvement
- challenging old ways of thinking on community engagement
- embedding social media use across the organisation and empowering employees speak on behalf of the business.
"Some of our tips may seem like very simple first steps, but we were surprised at how many businesses in Australia aren't using social media to their benefit" Alder said. "Australian businesses need to catch up to its citizens."
KPMG's survey of 1850 managers and 2016 employees from 10 countries explored social media use and approaches by organisations. Respondents were from organisations with more than 50 employees; were employed full-time, part-time or casually; and were working at organisations that provided employees with access to internet-enabled devices.
Managers were classified as individuals with a managerial position over others at an organisation, while employees had no direct managerial responsibility. Of the managers, 13 percent were chief executive officers/business owners, 19 percent were senior executives and 67 percent were managers.
Responses from our survey of Australian managers reveal low adoption rates:
- Only 42 percent report their organisation has embraced social media
- Fifty percent reported no use yet
- One in 10 did not even know if their organisation was engaging in social media or not.
- Australian businesses are significantly lagging other countries in their uptake of social media for business purposes. With adoption rates as high as 87 percent for China, 71.5 percent for the US and 70.2 percent for India, Australia is second last at 41.6 percent with Japan demonstrating the lowest rate of 27.5 percent.
- For plans to expand the types of business uses for social media, Australia is again at the lower end of adoption when compared with China, India and the US. Australian plans to expand are on par with U.K., Canada and Germany.
- China and India are leading the charge with utilising social media for business purposes, yet they are lagging other countries in setting up internal structures to support their initiatives.
- Adopters in Brazil and U.S. are advanced in their plans to expand current efforts across all social media activities we tested, such as listening and responding to online conversations, defining a social media strategy, dedicating funding, allocating dedicated teams and defining policies.
- Adopters in Australia are competitive on defining policy (37.5 percent) compared with 38.9 percent for Brazil. Also Australia is not far behind when compared to leaders for developing strategy (33 percent in Australia, 46.1 percent in Brazil, and 34 percent in Sweden) and measuring success of initiatives (33 percent in Australia, 38.9 percent in Brazil and 33.3 percent in U.S.).
- Australian adopters are significantly dedicating fewer resources to initiatives than other countries. Australian adopters are putting the structures in place, yet due to limited uptake Australia is behind on actual use of the medium. This suggests Australian businesses who are embracing the medium are taking a sophisticated approach and ensuring their social media efforts have longevity.