This finding contrasts starkly with one released just last week by Nielsen in conjunction with Community Engine. It found that 72 percent of businesses in 2010 participating in social media had allocated at least 10 percent of their marketing budget to it, an increase from 57 percent in 2009 and that, rather than re-allocating funds from other marketing activities, they are now increasing their marketing budgets to fund social media marketing activities.
Nielsen said: "One of the major shifts this year was organisations increasing marketing budgets as opposed to last year when they reallocated it from traditional media. This year 44 percent of participating businesses expanded their marketing budgets to fund a social media strategy."
The Sensis study was undertaken in conjunction with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA). It surveyed 803 Australian consumers and 1,944 Australian businesses and found that 62 percent of respondents had a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. Facebook remains the most popular social networking site in Australia - used by 97 percent of social networking users, and 60 percent of all Australian internet users, with the average user spending more than five hours a week on the site.
The Sensis survey found social networking sites playing a huge role in consumers' purchasing decision. Twelve percent of respondents used social networking sites to research products and, looking at the last search occasion for social networking users, it found that 36 percent of searches resulted in a purchase, 70 percent of which were made online.
Of those that research products on social networking sites, clothes and fashion items are most commonly researched (42 percent), followed closely by electrical goods (39 percent) and furniture (28 percent).
The research also found most social media users take no notice of ads on social networking sites, but can be highly influenced by blogs and reviews. Sixty three percent of social network users surveyed read online reviews before they make buying decisions, reading an average of six reviews each time.
John Butterworth, CEO of AIMIA, commented, "In only a few short years, the rise of social media has created a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour. Australian businesses of all sizes need to be open to the opportunities and challenges of engaging with customers in this new environment."
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