In a general sense, Australia has much in common with the rest of the western world—we like a lot of the same music, movies, and TV shows, for instance. But while there are similarities, certain elements remain totally unique to our local culture. Much like the platypus, to outsiders, the Land Down Under is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, and the same applies to the Australian social media landscape.
From keeping us connected to news and events, to changing the way we work and collaborate, social media has become a key communications platform, a crucial piece in Australia’s interactive culture. In this overview, we’ll look at the state of social media in Australia, how social is being used by Australian consumers and businesses, and the regional quirks and differences that matter when considering social business opportunities in the Great Southern Land.
As it is in most regions, Facebook is the leading social media platform in Australia, with an estimated 13m active Australian users. This is a small portion of Facebook’s 1.44b total monthly active user-base, but when overlaid against the entire Australian population (23.9m) that user-base is significant. When you take that even further and factor in that 18.8 percent of the Australian population is aged 14 or lower, that equates to more than 66 percent of the eligible Australian population being active on The Social Network.
Almost 60 percent of Australians aged 14 and over are active on YouTube, around 25 percent are on Instagram, 23 percent on Tumblr, 17.8 percent on LinkedIn and more than 14 percent are active on Twitter. Pinterest comes in at around 1.79 percent, while Reddit is used by 0.79 percent of the population.
Among the big platforms, it’s Instagram that’s seen the most significant growth in recent years, expanding it’s Aussie user-base by more than 200 percent since 2013. A growing number among Australia’s social audience have migrated across to Instagram in recent times, moving away from the prying eyes of extended family and organic reach declines at Facebook—factors that have no doubt played a significant part in its growth both in Australia and in other markets globally.
For Australian businesses, again it’s Facebook that takes the cake, used by 93 percent of businesses that are active on social media in the region. Trailing Facebook (by a wide margin) are LinkedIn (28 percent), Instagram (26 percent), Google+ (23 percent), Pinterest (17 percent) and Twitter (17 percent).
What’s of particular interest in both the professional and personal figures is the overall low standing of Twitter amongst Australians. In the US, for example, Twitter is the second most popular social platform amongst marketers. In the UK, too, Twitter ranks very high. In this regard, it seems that there’s still a significant amount of room to grow for Twitter in the Australian market. Twitter user numbers in Australia have been building, but it’s not yet caught on as much as it seems to have in some other regions.
At present, the data would indicate that after Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn would be the platforms of choice for marketers to reach the biggest Australian audience, though that, of course, is dictated entirely by your, specific user base.
The typical Australian social media user spends around 8.5 hours per week on social networks, with Pinterest leading the way in regards to time spent on-site (17.9 mins per session).
Figures show that only around 30 percent of small businesses and 32 percent of medium businesses in Australia currently have an active social media presence. Comparatively, in the US 57 percent of small businesses maintain an active social media presence, while in the UK it’s also around that same mark. When you consider, too, that 97 percent of the 2.1 million businesses registered in Australia are considered ‘small businesses’, that number is quite staggering—this suggests that over one million Australian businesses currently have no social media presence of any kind. That’s a big deal, particularly when you consider that 68 percent of consumers, and growing, are using social networking sites, with 49 percent of them accessing social media every day. The numbers highlight a significant gap in consumer and business use, and a huge platform of growth potential for social business in the region.
What’s more, the gap between consumer behaviour and business presence is amplified even further when you look at the stats in younger demographic brackets—95 percent of young Australians consider the internet to play an important part in their day-to-day lives. That trend is only going to increase and carry through with them as they move into adulthood.
The need for businesses to have a social media presence, to reach their target audience on the platforms they’re already utilising and familiar with, is continually rising in importance as those younger demographic groups – digital natives who’ve grown up with social as part of their communications DNA – move into more lucrative consumer brackets.
The data highlights the growing opportunities for Australian businesses to connect with their audiences via social channels.
Path to Purchase
Another area of interest, in a marketing sense, is how Australians are using social media for research, and the influence it has on purchase behaviour. Figures show that 49 percent of Australians who use social media platforms to research products go on to make a purchase based upon that research. That’s an impressive stat, and it highlights the business value of social media, beyond simply posting content and gathering Likes and followers. This figure, too, is only going to increase, especially given the emphasis social networks are now placing on search.
Twitter recently announced a deal with Google that’ll see real-time Tweets appear in Google search results, a move that will enable consumers to get a more holistic view of their search terms, not just in terms of the best website match, but in how they’re being discussed by people on social networks. This will increase the influence of social on the buying process as searchers will be able to see what users are actually saying about products they’re searching for. Facebook, too, is looking to improve their on-platform search options, showing you search results based on content posted by friends and people within your extended network (friends of friends).
The fact that almost half of those Australians that use social networks for purchase research went on to make a purchase as a result highlights the need for Australian businesses to utilise social channels as a means of connecting and being present for their target audience.
Coming Up Down Under
Overall, the Australian social media landscape is largely in-line with other regions, in terms of growth platforms and trends – though with some specific regional anomalies. Australian businesses still have room to grow, in a social sense, there’s capacity to improve their overall use and adoption of social media and to utilise social channels as a means for connecting with consumers – both existing and prospective. While consumer adoption is increasing, business adoption hasn’t kept in-step, which means there are many opportunities not being maximised. Brand-relevant conversations and discussions are being undertaken everyday on social platforms, whether those brands are listening or not, and the data shows that Australians are talking. Now brands just need to hear them.