Small Business and Social Media

Small Business and Social Media

This article is by Carl Smith and Clarissa Thorpe. It is taken from ABC News and was first published on Sunday 22nd June and updated on Monday 23rd June.

More Australian businesses are advertising their products online and through social media, but smaller companies are reportedly lagging behind.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows almost half of businesses have a website or web presence, and just over one quarter are active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

But larger companies are outperforming smaller ones in both areas.

In June last year, 98 per cent of businesses with 200 or more staff had an online presence, and two thirds were active on social media.

Although small businesses are starting to move online, many say the time commitments can be onerous.

Canberra artist Deborah Anne is part of a growing trend of home-based businesses using social media as a voice to generate sales.

Initially she started selling her three-dimensional paper pictures at the markets, through craft website Etsy and on Facebook.

But she is currently building her own website to attract more sales.

“I think people expect it, though not everybody is on Facebook and that’s why I need to get the website up and running as well,” Ms Anne said.

“I can put photos up there so people have a visual thing to see what I’m all about. I’ve had contact from people all around Australia and even internationally.”

It is an experience shared by hobby horse maker Michael Holmes who is based in the southern New South Wales village of Bungendore.

He has a large online presence, with profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Etsy and Instagram and an individual business website.

“We get a lot of people enquire online and through Facebook and then come to see us at the markets, to see what the product is like before they actually buy it, especially the large rocking horses,” Mr Holmes said.

“The traffic varies. Obviously the month before Christmas is really busy with orders but generally all through the year we might get enquires up to 10 o’clock at night.”

Mr Holmes recently joined an art co-op which wants to open a retail store in Canberra later this year, but said the online contact would remain an important part of his business model.

“People like that. Everyone asks us if we are local,” he said.

“And I find people like to buy from local people, not from big companies, especially when the product is handmade.”

Nationally the proportion of companies with a web presence is slowly rising, and social media activity has jumped from 18 per cent of companies to 26 per cent in the 12 months to June 2013.

The increased online activity is matched with more sales for Australian businesses.

Internet orders during 2012-2013 were worth close to $250 billion, an increase of almost $10 billion from the previous year.

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