It probably won’t come as a shock that the latest MYOB Business Monitor findings say half of all Australian small to medium enterprises (SMEs) now have an online business presence. The results show a 55-per-cent reported online business presence in March 2015, compared to 44 per cent in August 2014. What may surprise you, however, is the 5-per-cent decrease in the reported use of social media for business.

If you’re a business-owner, you probably know the line by now: to effectively reach and influence your customers, you have to be in the same online places they are. With 14 million users in Australia, Facebook is a fairly obvious starting point for creating an online brand presence. So why do the stats show a drop in use for business?

I am confident in saying that business-owners are already stretched enough without investing more of their time in something they’re not seeing tangible or immediate results from. Recent Salesforce research backs this up. The research found that business-owners are not seeing value from their efforts when it comes to using social media for business. Further, they found that the vast majority were using social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to push out company news rather than focusing on building communities and thought leadership.

Two years ago, 58 per cent of respondents said that the primary benefit of using social media was the enablement of increased customer interaction. The subsequent Business Monitor survey reports a steady downward trend around this advantage, with the latest findings sitting at 49 per cent. Although the increased customer interaction that social media facilitates remains the top benefit for surveyed SMEs, the decline suggests that business-owners are finding it harder to gain cut-through.

We’re living in a world of increasingly sophisticated algorithms, SEO, data-mining, ad-targeting, and the list goes on. How do businesses that don’t have the luxury of being able to employ a full-time social media specialist create and implement simple strategies to best re-connect with their customers online using social media?

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