Is it time for your business to jump on the social media bandwagon?

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Social media is having a significant impact on the world. Whether it’s in politics, news, education, work, social or other activities, social media is becoming a more common platform for communication and connecting people. It’s estimated that there will be almost 3 billion people using social media networks by 2020 – exponential growth from less than a million in 2010.

Realising this as an opportunity to connect with their customers, customer-driven businesses are using social media more and more as a tool for marketing and eCommerce. There are many examples out there where this is being done successfully, especially in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market such as in retail.

However, in the case of B2B markets such as manufacturing, it can be difficult to define a business case for using social media as a channel for doing business. But it is quite relevant when we consider the increasing ‘servitisation’ of manufacturing: the process by which provision of services becomes deeply integrated with the design, production, operation and business models of manufacturers.

These businesses are expanding their horizons beyond the production line, where customer feedback becomes an important feature. Social media could be a platform to enable this.

In our soon-to-be-released report on business use of, investment in and plans for digital technologies (watch this space), we found that while many businesses are generating revenue from eCommerce activity, particularly in the services sector, 44% of all businesses surveyed are not. ABS data provides more conservative estimates, with just 34% of businesses making internet sales for 2014-15 and only modest growth over recent years.

These numbers suggest a lot of opportunity for more businesses to generate more revenue from online sales. For instance, although not explored in our survey, eCommerce activities such as social media marketing could also lead to increased online revenue. The ABS also estimates that around 34% of businesses now have a social media presence and there is clearly room to grow online sales activities through increased and improved use of social media.

Part of the problem for businesses is knowing where to start and having the external support to do so. The good news is that help is available. For instance Google, one of Ai Group’s members, makes the Digital Garage freely available as an online training tool focused on digital marketing.

Existing public initiatives such as the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and Digital Business Kits may also support businesses to increase their capabilities.

If you are interested in hearing more about social media for business, please let us know by leaving a comment below or by contacting us directly.

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Charles Hoang
Charles is Adviser - Public Policy at Ai Group, concentrating principally on policy relating to technology and digital issues. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including energy, broadcasting and telecommunications. Previously, he advised on energy policy for the Australian Energy Market Commission, and was Assistant Director of Engineering for Free TV Australia.

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