MYOB has released the results of a probe into the use of social media by small business owners.
As part of the research, the team spoke with 1,005 small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners and found that respondents using social media were 56% more likely to see a revenue rise in the last 12 months.
There was also a slight rise in the use of social media, with 20% of respondents being active on one or more networks for business reasons, compared with 16% the year before.
“One in five business owners now wear an additional hat – social media manager,” said Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB. “Those who embrace that role are reaping rewards beyond building closer relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and others. The financial benefits are clear.
“Many of these social tools, like Facebook or a blog, don’t need an investment of money to raise a business’s profile, communicate with its target audiences and generate leads; although they do require time,” he added. “Despite this, only one fifth use social channels. This compares to nearly half of all business owners using smartphones and over one quarter using tablet devices.”
The report also found that 19% of respondents used Skype or another type of VoIP to make business phone calls, which was up from 16%.
“Our research suggests it’s due to a lack of confidence in knowing how to employ social and other online tools that is holding others back,” continued Reed. “More than half our respondents said they would vote for the political party that proposed providing free government-funded training to all small businesses on how to use the internet to enhance and grow their business. It was good to see some money put aside in last month’s budget for this purpose.”
On a state-by-state basis, South Australia had the highest proportion of social media users, with 265, followed by Queensland with 23%, Western Australia with 22%, Victoria with 18% and New South Wales with 17%.
When asked about the future, 30% of SME respondents expected revenue to increase, with 19% predicting it would decline, and 42% believing it would remain the same – the remainder were unsure.
Startups were more oprtimistic, with 42% of those surveyed predicting a revenue increase over the next 12 months, with just 17% forecasting a fall and 37% anticipating it would remain steady and the remainder being unsure.
“Australia is well-known for fostering a thriving community of entrepreneurs, but few new ventures succeed without continued industry, government and public support,” said James Scollay, GM of the business division at MYOB.
The report also found that acquiring new customers was the biggest challenge for startup respondents, with 73% flagging it as a key pressure on the business. This was followed by 71% for cash flow and 70% saying fuel prices were a pain point.