Australian social media users go mobile and shun their dinner companions, Sensis finds

Australians are increasing their social media use, becoming more absorbed in their phones and softening their attitudes towards advertising, reports the Sensis 2017 Social Media Survey.

Surveying 800 Australians across all age groups, Sensis found nearly 80% of the nation’s internet users are now on social media services which they mainly access though their smartphones.

Despite reports of people deleting the Facebook app, over 90% of Australian internet users across all age brackets  – including the over-64 cohort – are on the service with nearly a third of Aussies spending over 30 minutes each day checking their feeds.

“The interesting trend is how we’ve seen more visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have increased year on year,”  commercial director of Sensis, Rob Tolliday, told Mumbrella.

“There’s a huge number of people using these platforms, the amount of usage is sizeable as well,” Tolliday said. “We have 60% of social users checking in every day, that’s a pretty big opportunity for advertisers.”

Instagram’s usage increased to 46% from 31% the previous year and Snapchat almost doubled in popularity, jumping from 22% to 40%. LinkedIn however dropped for the second year in succession, down from 28% in 2015 to 18% this year. Twitter saw a big jump with 32% of Australians reporting they usage the service, up from 19%.

Surprisingly, 10% of those surveyed still claim to have a Google+ profile.

Over a third of Australian users are checking their social media feeds more that five times a day, up from 26% last year. The peak time for Australian social media users is in the evening with 71% online while 57% log on when they get up in the morning.

The concentration of social media users online in the evening is an opportunity for marketers, believes Tolliday. “You could time activity on social with activity you have running on other mediums.”

There were also less users than expected saying they don’t like ads on social media or paid no attention to them. What’s more, people also said they were more likely to inspect a brand’s social media presence before making an online purchase from an unfamiliar site.

Toliday said it appears social media advertising or sponsorship is gaining greater acceptance as a marketing tool for brands.

“If a brand has a large number of followers they are more likely to trust it,” Tolliday continued, observing younger demographics tend to follower influencers. The survey once again also found consumers were more likely to engage with brands and companies which engage with consumers over social media.

“We found almost a quarter follow a brand or business online which gets higher for females and those in the 24 to 39 age groups,” Tolliday continued. “For an advertiser, the key thing they need to think about to build that following is having engaging content.

“If a brand has a large number of followers they are more likely to trust it.

“Another big thing is social can be used anywhere, we’ve even got 5% of people using social media in the cinema so usage has proliferated everywhere and changed how we interact,” Tolliday observed.

“We’re seeing people more comfortable using social anywhere so if they are having a meal with friends or family and potentially phubbing them. These kind of social norms are generally being considered as quite a rude thing to do, is becoming accepted,” he continued.

The practice of ‘phubbing’ – snubbing people by focusing on your mobile phone rather than engaging with your companions – is particularly notable among 30 to 39 year olds with a third happy to “phub” their family and friends at dinner, finds the report.

While the trends in social media are largely positive, bullying remains a concern, particularly among older groups where 40-49 year olds are twice as likely as other age cohorts to report being bullied or say they have witnessed online misbehaviour. Regional users also report high rates of social media harassment.

“My guess is the younger groups have spent all their adult lives having access to social networks. I remember the Friendster days, the Instant Messaging and MySpace,” said Tolliday. “So I think they’ve had a greater amount of social exposure of social platforms.”

12% of all respondents said they have later regretted something they posted and 11% are worried their social media footprint may come back to haunt them.

Sensis’ report also illustrated how the tablet computer has faded with only 30% of users accessing social media from one, down from 55% in 2014. Laptops too are out of favour with usage falling from 69% five years ago to 25% this year. Mobile usage on the other hand has risen to 81%, up from 72% last year.

Other key highlights from the report include:

  • Almost 6 in 10 are now using social media in the bedroom, up from 42% to 59% this year, and rising to 94% among 18-29 year olds.
  • Social media usage while on the toilet is now normal for 14% of the population. It is even more common among men (17% vs 12%) and 18-29 year olds (29%).
  • Males (36% vs 27%) and 18-29 year olds (74% vs average of 31%) are more likely to make friends with strangers on social media.
  • 4 in 10 have posted photos of their food on social media and this is more common among men (43% vs 38%) and 18-29 year olds (82%), while similar numbers have posted selfies (45% average and 88% for 18-29s).
  • 40-49 year olds are twice as likely to have been bullied (11% vs 6% average) and the most likely to have witnessed bullying on social media (28% vs 18% average).

Sensis will be releasing the business results of the survey on June 29.


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