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Aussie SMBs are failing to take social media seriously Aussie SMBs are failing to take social media seriously Forbes Featured

Almost three quarters of Aussie small and medium businesses are failing when it comes to social media, according to new research.

The national research of 1,000 SMBs conducted by Telstra and released today showed only 24% have embraced social media and were seeing real benefits from online activities, while most believed it neither helped nor hindered them

A further 12% believed social media actually dampened business successes.

Telstra’s research also found 77% of businesses believed the internet was the most beneficial technology for their business, followed by online software which was seen as beneficial by half of the respondents.

The top three technology services used by SMBs to reduce business costs are online invoicing tools and payment options (33%), mobile broadband (30%) and remote desktop applications (29%).

Telstra Business Group Managing Director Will Irving said with 62 per cent of adults worldwide now using social media, SMBs ignoring this powerful tool were missing out on a significant business opportunity.

“In a digital age where smartphones and tablets are used on a daily basis, we know customers expect a company to have a social media presence.

“Successful Australian businesses are having a two-way conversation with customers online, allowing them to connect and engage on a personal level, either by providing real time customer service or highlighting relevant new products,” he said.

The 2012 Telstra Australian Business of the Year, BikeExchange.com.au, which now has a monthly average of over one million visitors to its site, is an example of a business using social media to its full advantage.

“BikeExchange.com.au leverages a mix of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ that harness the passion and interest of the biking community to drive interest and growth through targeted onsite promotions,” Mr Irving said.

Telstra has come up with the following tips for SMBs to engage consumers about their products and services:

Be the real you. Being authentic and representative of who you are and the values your business stands for is essential.

Know why you're there and be relevant. What would your customers like to see from you online?

Ask (and search) for feedback. Facebook's new search tool and searching Twitter is a gold mine of insights into what you're doing well and how you can improve.

It's a two way street. Joining the conversation is essential. Stories or photos of your business can generate engagement from both current and prospective customers.

Choose the right social places for your business. Look beyond Facebook and Twitter to services such as Yelp, Foursquare and Instagram.

Don't forget to protect your turf. Choose a simple social media name for your business - avoid underscores and tricky characters, they're not friendly on mobile devices.

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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun.

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