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The Yellow Social Media Report 2012

May 29, 2012

Yellow Pages®, in conjunction with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), surveyed 1,951 Australian businesses to understand how they are using social media.

The 2012 Yellow™ Social Media Report found that 27 per cent of small businesses (up from 14% in 2011) and 34 per cent of medium businesses (up from 25% in 2011) are harnessing the power of social media. Investment in social media has also increased, with small businesses spending on average $3,410 and medium businesses $16,920 annually, up from $2,050 and $6,500 respectively a year ago.

Despite these increases, the study found that many SMBs are not actively measuring the return on investment (ROI) for this activity – with only 28 per cent of small and 24 per cent of medium businesses determining the ROI on their social media programs. A quarter of small businesses admitted to not having any strategy in place to drive traffic to their social media sites, with the most popular method (23%) cited by small businesses being a rudimentary link to social media from the business’ website.

The report went on to find that many SMBs are failing to provide the sort of information consumers look for when they use social media. Consumers most commonly seek out giveaways and discounts* from businesses and brands on social media, but only 34 per cent of small and 27 per cent of medium businesses offer these incentives to consumers on their social media sites. The most common use of social media is to invite online comments, ratings or reviews - small business (55%) and medium business (56%).

Commenting on the report, Group Manager Emerging Business & Innovation at Sensis, Simon Betschel said, “With social media now pervasive in our everyday lives, we wanted to understand how it is being used on a deeper level, to empower small and medium business owners to make more informed decisions about how to use these channels to engage with consumers,” he said.

“It’s clear there are huge opportunities for brands to connect with both current and potential customers, but businesses must be tactical in their use of these channels to ensure that their investment in this area contributes to their business both in the online world, as well as offline,” he added.

Despite the lack of current strategic direction behind many SMBs social media presence, they are continuing to invest in social media.  A sizeable proportion of businesses with a social media presence expect to spend more on social media in the coming year, with 88 per cent of small businesses and 86 per cent of medium businesses set to invest the same or larger budgets in 2013. 

The research also showed that most businesses also expect that their social media investment will contribute to revenue growth over the next 12 months, with 72 per cent of small and 67 per cent of medium businesses believing social media will play a key role in increasing sales.

“The research indicates businesses are focused on establishing, maintaining and updating their social media presence rather than driving people to it. Social media plays a critical role in marketing and reputation management, one that is being underestimated by many brands and businesses,” Mr Betschel continued.

“There is a clear opportunity to build consumer relationships and sales through social media, however, businesses need to understand more about how and when to connect with their followers. SMBs and marketers need to respect how people view and value their social media interactions. The top reasons people use social media remain to catch up with friends and family, to share photos or videos, and to coordinate social events,

however, approximately one in five are also using social media for commercial purposes, to follow their favourite brands, access special offers and make purchases.”

The way SMBs communicate with their customers was a simple proposition, but now with the digital and online world, connecting and communicating with your customers is much more complex. To help Australian SMBs improve their digital literacy Sensis recently launched Social Solution – a new service which provides a team of experts tasked to manage SMBs’ social media presence and help achieve their social media goals.

“We understand that SMB owners are experts at running their business, but often they don’t have the time, know-how or budget to create a complex social media strategy. Social Solution offers support to SMBs to develop a targeted strategy to complement their overall digital approach and marketing mix,” Betschel added.

“For Facebook or Twitter, Social Solution can provide businesses up to five posts or tweets per day, in addition to 'conversation management' with social media users across a selection of the 'Big Four' social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and LinkedIn,” Betschel concluded.

 2012 Yellow™ Social Media Report SMB Social Media Fast Facts:

  • 27% of small, 34% of medium and 79% of large businesses have a social media presence
  • 22% of small businesses update their social media every day, while 28% of them do it once a week
  • 39% of medium businesses update their social media every day
  • 83% of small businesses on social media have a Facebook page
  • 27% of small businesses on social media have a Twitter account
  • 79% of medium businesses on social media have a Facebook page
  • 33% of medium businesses on social media have a Twitter account

pdf icon  The Yellow Social Media Report 2012 (826.57kB)

 JPG icon  Yellow Social Media Report info graphic (2.89MB)



Sensis helps Australians find, buy and sell. Our integrated network of local search and digital marketing solutions delivers real, measurable business leads to Australian businesses. Sensis’ multichannel network includes Yellow Pages®, White Pages®, Whereis® digital mapping solutions, TrueLocal and request-for-quote service, Quotify. This increasingly diverse network spans print, online, mobile, iPhone, iPad, Android, and satellite navigation, and information can also be shared from online to mobile and social networking sites. Sensis helps ensure our advertisers are found by more customers than ever by managing their presence across a growing number of advertising platforms including search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!.