Business benefits going begging

Australians are one of the highest users of social media in the world, but according to a new survey too few organisations are capitalising on the trend’s business potential.

Australian businesses are lagging behind those in other countries in their uptake of social media to realise productivity and cost-saving benefits.

According to global analysis by professional services firm KPMG Australia, with adoption rates as high as 87 per cent in China, 71.5 per cent in the US and 70.2 per cent in India, Australia is second last at 41.6 per cent. It is, however, still well ahead of Japan where just 27.5 per cent of businesses use social media.

Consumers are spending more time on social media — and not only in a social context. National managing partner of KPMG’s digital economy practice, Malcolm Alder, said the medium is an increasingly serious business channel for consumers as they use it to discuss businesses, brands and experiences with their friends and networks.

“Compared with other countries, Australian businesses are not capitalising on this online ‘buzz’ to listen to what customers are saying, or to sell their products and services,” he said. “Given Australians are among the highest users of social media networks in the world, our businesses have a huge advantage in being able to leverage the channel for business benefit, but at the moment they are lagging behind.”

In a clear message to CIOs and marketers, he added: “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.”

The survey of 1850 managers and 2016 employees from 10 countries also found that when it comes to plans to expand the types of business uses of social media and allocating resources to them, Australia is at the lower end of the scale. However, local adopters are competitive on defining policy – 37.5 per cent compared with 38.9 per cent for Brazil – and not far behind in developing strategy (33 per cent in Australia, 46.1 per cent in Brazil and 34 per cent in Sweden).

“Australian adopters are putting the structures in place, yet because of limited uptake Australia is behind on actual use of the medium,” Alder said.

On a positive note, this suggests Australian businesses that are embracing the medium are taking a sophisticated approach and ensuring their social media efforts have longevity.

Regardless, only 42 per cent of survey respondents said their organisation had embraced social media, half reported no use yet and one in 10 did not even know whether or not their organisation engaged in social media activity.

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia

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