I’ve just been reading a report by Yellow Pages Australia on Social Media.

First point, THANK YOU for calling it a ‘report’! Seems like the good old ‘report’ has been superseded by the ‘White Paper’ these days.

Second point, is it just me or is there something slightly odd about Yellow Pages doing a White Paper?

Anyway, moving on, it’s a pretty detailed discussion on ‘What Australian people and businesses are doing with social media’. What’s most interesting to me is Yellow Pages is really part of the traditional marketing world. By publishing a report like this they are clearly making it known that they intend to be a player in the social media world too. Hats off to them for not just sitting back and waiting to become completely irrelevant!

One of key stats from this report for me is that although 62% of online Aussies use social networks, only 27% of small biz and 34% of medium biz have a social media presence. Their report also revealed that 79% of big biz has a social media presence.

So for me, 3 key comments/discussions/questions come out of this…

1. You need to go where the eyeballs are!

The first time I heard this phrase was from a guy called Gary Vaynerchuck who at the time was responding to a self-asked question about why businesses should care about social media. No need to really explain any further, right? It’s pretty self-explanatory. If people are spending time there, your business needs to be there too. It’s the same rationale that’s driven the ad business for ever. What’s different now is that we’ve realised traditional advertising may well be seen by lots of eyeballs, but it doesn’t really create any meaningful engagement. Social Networks give us the chance to have real conversations with our customers, not just throw a message at them like we used to.

2. Are people really looking to deal with business on the social networks?

This report says only 20% use social networks for commercial purposes. BUT the lines between our work time and social time are increasingly blurring. Take my Blackberry. In addition to my main work email account, it also hosts my personal email accounts. So, when that little red light starts flashing to tell me there’s a new message on Sunday afternoon while I sit on the sofa watching football, I reach for it. And what do you think I do if I see it’s a work email? I open it of course!! Now, I may not action it or even read it fully, but I sure as hell do open it! The same happens on Facebook or Twitter. Even if I’m there for personal time, if I see something relevant to my work life, you can be sure I’ll engage with it.

And don’t forget, consumers are more and more turning to their social networks for information and advice on what products & services to buy and use. They call it ‘social search’ and it’s a key factor in the high valuation investors have put on Facebook. The power of recommendation from a friend. Word of Mouth. Dare I say it…Social Commerce!!

3. How effective is this ‘presence’ they speak of?

Of the 1,951 businesses they interviewed for this survey, I’d love to know how many of them actually have a real, resonating presence on the social networks. Having a Facebook page may well qualify your business as being ‘on social media’, but it hardly makes for an engaged presence that can be key driver for your business.

What’s really exciting about this whole space of business and social networks is that it’s still all very new. There are no experts. There are no proven best practices that will guarantee you success. We’re all learning as we go. The important thing is that you at least get in the game.

Here’s a link to that report –

Even if you’re not interested in the Australian business/social media landscape, there’s lots of interesting stuff to get you thinking.

A final stat…

‘Males were twice as likely to report accessing social media in the toilet (6% for males, 3% for females’.