Getting social in challenging times

 Getting social in challenging times

Using social media to boost your business is easier than you believe, and
can reap rewards.

If 2021 has taught us anything, it's that technology is good for

Social media is paying big dividends towards the small businesses that are
savvy enough to embrace it.

Recent research released by Facebook shows nearly half of Australian
businesses made a lot more than one-quarter of their sales digitally in August alone.

Facebook data suggests a surge in new online shoppers, with 54 per cent
of Australian consumers buying their goods through a messaging service for that
first time.

This is backed up by NAB's online retail sales index, which shows the COVID-19 lockdown spurred an enormous shift in consumer activity, recording a 62 per cent jump in online shopping in July, in contrast to the same period a year ago.

The “Buy Local” movement

It's encouraging to see the “buy local” movement is gaining momentum. The Australian Made campaign has seen a 400 per cent rise in businesses requesting to use the long-lasting kangaroo logo, indicating a significant increase in demand for Australian-made products.

“Social media is paying big dividends towards the small businesses that are savvy enough to embrace it.”

We saw this play out with Gold Coast manufacturer UGG Since 1974, which
lost 95 per cent of its business back in January when flights stopped from
China. The UGG-boot maker was one of the first businesses to be hit through the
COVID-19 crisis as they relied heavily on international tourism. These were
worried about their staff, overheads and lack of sales. Their dramatic
turnaround came after posting on the million-member Facebook group. Within hours
of that post, the orders started streaming in. It resonated with people because
many assumed Uggs were made in Australia, when the the truth is that 96 per
cent are created overseas.

It really is amazing to determine the achievements of small businesses that
have devised a clever and cost-effective social media strategy. For small
businesses that aren't sure how to get started, there's always the opportunity
to jump on existing social media campaigns.

The Buy from the Bush campaign is a superb example – in the first 4 months of its existence, the 275 regional businesses profiled saw a typical revenue increase of 300 per cent. The campaign delivered $5 million to those featured small businesses – all of which had an online business – by increasing their brand awareness and attracting new clients.

Click for Vic

A similar campaign, Click for Vic, connects consumers with Victorian
businesses offering at-home, virtual or delivered-to-your door experiences or

Even as trading restrictions ease, it's clear there is a shift in the way
consumers are buying goods.

A survey conducted on behalf of NBN Co revealed that 49 percent of
respondents had increased their shopping online during the pandemic shutdown
period and 70 per cent have been consciously supporting local business owners

But more than two-thirds of those surveyed were restricted with a limited
digital presence, even though they would like to support more local business owners.
Among the harsh lessons delivered by the COVID-19 crisis is that small
businesses can't rely on outdated business models and bricks and mortar
stores. Digitisation has become essential for small businesses to be truly
competitive. It isn't enough to have a website – it needs to be e-commerce
functional. Equally, it's not enough to complete the occasional post on social media
– targeting your customer base is crucial.

Getting started is easier than you think

There are a number of online workshops that offer good tips to small
businesses. SkillFinder ( is a new initiative, backed through the
likes of MYOB and Xero, that provides free upskilling courses to SMEs.
From cloud computing to digital marketing.

Navii's One Small Step series offers free, practical tips for small
businesses that want to use technology to improve their business.

Making sure your online systems are protected goes hand-in-hand with
digitisation. What this means is regularly changing your passwords, ensuring your
security software programs are up-to-date and making sure you don't provide your computer to
your kids, who are able to accidentally install malware when downloading games and
other forms of entertainment.

It's important to protect your online business, just like you would a
bricks and mortar shopfront or office.

This story first appeared in issue 31 from the Inside Small Business
quarterly magazine

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