How Australian SMEs engage with social media

Stephen Burgess, Carmine Sellitto, Carmen Cox, Jeremy Buultjens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review


Several recent studies have examined how Australian small businesses engage with social media with most studies tending to involve simple ‘yes/no’4 questions to determine whether small businesses use social media tools. Notably,there is limited research that examine show small businesses actually engage with social media. This article reports on a study of 40 Australian small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) that used in-depth interviews with owners, managers or key employees. The key factor linking all of these firms was an interest in social media, which was ascertained when businesses were recruited. Most of the participant SMEs were Facebook users, indicating that Facebook has become the defacto choice for Australian SMEs wishing to engage with social media. However,satisfaction levels in regards to Facebook varied across participants from those that viewed it as being of little or no use to those that found it to be very useful.Just under half of the businesses had experienced negative comments through Facebook. The results suggest that an SME has to be ready to deal with different types of negative feedback and be prepared to use different response strategies.Over three quarters of participants used third party directories, such as the Yellow Pages, to advertise their businesses. Some of these provided the opportunity for consumers to post reviews about businesses. Around one quarter of businesses indicated that they were aware that customers could post reviews on these sites.Other social media tools (including Twitter, LinkedIn, and TripAdvisor) were used by some participants. There was some confusion surrounding the nature and role of Twitter, with unsureness about its value and concern about the amount of time needed to use it. The use of TripAdvisor and similar services was limited to tourism and hospitality businesses, given the travel focus of this particular social media platform. As other studies have shown, the tourism sector was the best developed with regards to engaging with social media.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ECSM 2015 2nd European Conference on Social Media
EditorsA Mesquita, P Peres
Place of PublicationPortugual
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-1-910810-31-6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event2nd European Conference on Social Media - Polytechnic Institute, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 9 Jul 201510 Jul 2015
Conference number: 2nd


Conference2nd European Conference on Social Media
Abbreviated titleECSM 2015


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