We have been fortunate in Australia over the past few years: Sensis has undertaken an annual survey of Australian consumers and business to find out how and why they use social media. The report usually comes out in June each year. It is well worth keeping an eye out for as its data is invaluable. #notsponsored

Because I’m a lovely person, I’ve summarised some of the more useful, and often quirky, data from the 2017 report this year’s report for you. You’re welcome. 🙂 

I highly recommend you download and read the report in full – it’s an easy read, with many of the results explained in plain language. You do not need to be a data nerd to understand it and extrapolate its use to your organisation!

How Australian consumers and businesses use social media

Social media use in Australia – key stats:

  • 99% of Australians have an internet-enabled device (we average three each).
  • 81% own a smartphone (59% laptop, 51% desktop, 45% tablet). In terms of age, 99% of 18-29-year olds and 96% of 30-39-year olds own a smartphone.
  • 84% of Aussies access the internet daily, with 56% accessing the internet more than five times a day.
  • 79% use social networking sites (up from 69% in 2016), and 35% check social media more than five times a day.

Where we use social media:

  • 57% use social media first thing in the morning, 18% when commuting, 21% during work (this seems quite low to me), 47% on breaks, 47% at lunch time, 71% after work/in the evening, and 39% last thing before bed. This changes quite a lot depending on the age group. For example, 79% of 18-29-year olds check social media first thing in the morning, compared to 43% of 50-64-year olds.
  • 96% use social media at home compared with 35% at work, 43% on public transport, 33% at restaurants/bars/parties, 37% in the car (I hope this isn’t while driving, although I suspect for far too many it is), 16% at sporting events and 14% while on the loo (!!!). Interestingly, 17% of males use it on the toilet compared to 12% of females, and 29% of these are 18-29-year olds. Yes, I also said ewwww!
  • About 35% use social media while watching TV, with 43% of these people watching reality TV.
Did you know 37% of us will inspect a brand’s social media presence before making a purchase? #SensisSocial Click To Tweet

The sites we use:

  • Social networking sites used were Facebook (94%), YouTube (51%), Instagram (46%), Snapchat (40%), Twitter (32%), LinkedIn (18%) and Pinterest (10%).
  • In terms of messaging services, 81% use Facebook Messenger, 34% use Viber, 18% use WhatsApp and 12% don’t use any form of messaging service.
  • The typical user spends almost 10 hours a week on Facebook.
  • Smartphones are by far the most preferred device for social networking, with 81% of users accessing social media via a smartphone (a steady increase since 2011). This compares to 30% accessing it on a laptop, 28% on a desktop and 25% on a tablet.
  • Why do people use social media? Not surprisingly, 89% said to catch up with friends and family, 43% said to watch videos, 26% said to find or connect with people with the same interests, 18% said to find out about brands/businesses, 16% said to research products or services, and 9% said to engage with brands for customer-service reasons.
  • Advertising isn’t the taboo you might expect, with 30% of people quite happy to see ads on social networking sites (however, 30% are not). 57% ignore sponsored posts from businesses they don’t follow.
  • 37% will inspect a brand’s social media presence before making a purchase.

What are Australian businesses doing on social media?

Now, here is the good stuff. What are Australian businesses doing on social media? Let me tell you right now, not enough of you are using it. And you should be.

  • 53% of small businesses are not on social media, compared to 51% of medium businesses and 40% of large businesses.
  • The businesses that do use social media primarily use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Large businesses (95%) mostly use social media for two-way communication with clients and contacts – this is up from 76% in 2016, and a model that small and medium-sized businesses need to follow.
  • Only 36% of small businesses that use social media update every day (up from 23% in 2016).
  • Most businesses do not measure their social media return on investment. If this is you, make sure you read Chapter 6 on measurement and analytics.
  • Only 40% of small businesses and 43% of medium-sized businesses have a social media strategy. If you’re not one of them, I can help you. Call me. Now.

What does this mean for your business?

Your customers are on social media, so if you're not, you're missing out on the chance to engage with them Click To Tweet

Plenty of things.

  • If you’re not using social media, you need to be. Your customers are there, and you are missing out on some excellent opportunities to engage with them. If your target audience includes anyone under the age of 40 and you’re not using social media, you’re crazy.
  • Social media is awesome for providing excellence in customer service.
  • If you only promote your business during work hours, say, 9am-5pm or even 8am-6pm, you miss out on valuable opportunities to engage, given most people use social media when they wake up and after work. This means you need to do some serious rethinking. You don’t need to be on social media 24/7, but you need to have more than just a 9-5 presence.
  • Given the clear majority of people use Facebook (95%), it’s vital that you consider Facebook as a marketing tool. The significantly smaller usage of other social media channels is a clear indication that you need to know who your target market is and where they are likely to be. Gary Vaynerchuk reckons all brands with a target audience aged between 20 and 100 need to be on Facebook. Believe him.
  • Write a social media strategy. If you use social media but don’t have a strategy, you’re wasting your time and energy. Your plan needs to link to your overarching business strategy and marketing plan.
  • Be aware of social media demographics, and how and where they access it. Know the demographics of your target market and know where they are. Be responsive to them. Increasingly, there is the expectation that businesses are on social media, so you need a valid reason if you are not. “I’m too scared” or “I can’t be bothered” doesn’t cut it.


If you’re not using social media, or not using it particularly well, or just need a bit of help, please get in touch. I run 30-day, 90-day, 6 month and 12 month programs to help associations, not-for-profits and small businesses develop and implement social media strategies that attract, engage and retain customers.

If that’s more than you need, then why not buy a copy of my book, The Social Association – 5 key skills not-for-profits need to increase member engagement, generate ROI and create a thriving online community, which is now available for pre-order.

Mel Kettle works with associations, not-for-profits and businesses to help them communicate effectively and authentically so they attract, retain and engage their members and customers. To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or click here.

Pre-order a copy of Mel’s book, The Social Association – 5 key skills not-for-profits need to increase member engagement, generate ROI and create a thriving online community, published in February 2018.

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