SMEs shy away from social media but embrace Internet

Three-quarters of Australian small to medium businesses are still not using social media to its full potential and have failed to embrace the new technology, according to a new report from Telstra.

According to the survey of 1000 SMEs, only 24 per cent are seeing actual benefits from online activities, while 12 per cent indicate social media is negatively impacting business success.

According to Will Irving, Group Managing Director of Telstra Business, the popularity of social media around the world means that SMEs could be missing out on business opportunities.

"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," Mr Irving said.

Telstra's survey reveals that when it comes to using the Internet, however, 77 per cent of businesses view it as "the most beneficial technology" for their operations. This is followed by half of respondents who perceive online software as the second most beneficial technology for businesses.

Despite small businesses shying away from social media, many are keen on using other technology services to help them reduce business costs, namely online invoicing tools and payment options (one-third of firms) and mobile broadband (30 per cent). Additionally, 29 per cent of SMEs state that remote desktop applications would help them cut costs.

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