Small business owners aged less than 40 years are overwhelmingly using social media to communicate with customers while the majority believe that technology such as smart phones can give them an advantage over big business, according to new research.
Bibby Financial Services has conducted a survey of small business owners around Australia, and found that the majority (73 percent) are currently using social media tools in their business.
Younger business owners aged 18-39 years are significantly more likely to be using social media (83 percent) than older business owners (56 percent), according to findings from the Bibby Barometer survey, conducted in July 2013.
The most common social media tools being employed by Australian small business owners are Facebook (47 percent), LinkedIn (26 percent), Google+ (23 percent) and Twitter (21 percent).
Mark Cleaver, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, said this trend towards social media to strengthen business operations and communications would gather pace over time.
“Social media is increasingly being used as an essential channel to boost awareness of small businesses and their brands and to reach new and existing customers. It’s also being used as a channel to recruit staff. Older business owners risk being left behind if they don’t adopt some form of social media,” said Mr Cleaver.
“As Generation Y gradually takes over the leadership of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Generation X, many of whom will retire over the next 10 to 20 years, this will further entrench the use of technology and social media,” said Mr Cleaver.
“These trends towards the use of social media are irreversible and only by adopting new technology such as mobile devices and applications can SMEs survive in an increasingly competitive and technology-reliant world.”
The Bibby Barometer survey reveals just over half (52 percent) of all small businesses believe that technology such as smartphones, tablets and cloud technology can give them an advantage over big business. Young business owners aged 18-39 years (61 percent) are far more likely to feel this way than older small business owners (35 percent).
Just over half (55 percent) intend to invest more in technology in the next year, but again, this is more likely to come from younger business owners (64 percent) than older ones (38 percent).
“Technology is important because it can help small businesses to raise their profile and to boost their productivity by speeding up their operations,” Mr Cleaver said.
September 24, 2013