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Using Social Media for Business

Thanks to the increase in wifi connectivity, social media adoption and smartphone use, New Zealand businesses have never been in a better position to harness the power of social media. Here is practical advice for business owners looking to use social media as part of their digital strategy.

Social media has not only changed the way businesses communicate, it has also empowered customers by enabling them to access more information, affording them the ability to choose selectively, provide feedback and influence other people on a scale never previously seen. Social media can be defined as online communication platforms that enable businesses and customers to network, promote products and services and share information in real time.

As of 2019 more than 4.22 million Kiwis use the internet, with the majority using their mobile devices to shop, stream videos, perform searches or use social media [1]. The number mobile phone subscriptions now exceed the total population of New Zealand at 6.35 million accounts. With such a large audience available it is becoming increasingly critical for businesses to use social media as a way of reaching customers to build brand awareness, sales and brand loyalty.

Figure 1 [1] Social Media Overview: Digital NZ Report

Who is using social media?

According to Hootsuite’s 2019 research report, social media use is increasing year on year with more than 71%, of Kiwis now on some form of social media platform. A large majority of these people are on 7 or more platforms, with 65% accessing sites via their Smartphone. However, 2018 -2019 saw the first year of decline in social media use in New Zealand by 2.9% [1].

Social media has a wide spread of users with ages tracked from 13 years to 65+. When looking at the proportion of social media users by their age, 5% of users are under 18, 44% are between the ages of 18 and 34; 21% of people between 35 and 19.1% are over the age of 55 based on Facebook’s advertising audience [1].

When looking at use of social media by gender, younger demographics show a similar percentage of use between males and females. In the under 18 group, 2.7% of users are females compared with 2.3% being male. In the 18 to 34 age group this proportion is exactly even at 22% female and 22% male. In the older demographics the numbers begin to skew. 17% of users are females between 35 and 55, compared with a male population of 14%. In the over 55 age group the difference is similar, with 11% being female and only 8.1% being male[1].

With this wide range of people represented, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to understand how to utilize social media. These platforms can assist them in building a brand and reach a wider audience compared to traditional advertising alone. Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to incorporate social media into their business and digital strategy.

What are they using social media for?

More than 98% of Kiwis have visited a social media site within the last month, which leads to an average of 1 hour and 43 minutes per person per day spent on social media sites. Now 84% of people are engaging or contributing to social media sites and as many as 15% of Kiwi’s are using social media for work related purposes with many more using social media to influence their purchasing decisions [1].

It may seem obvious but different demographic populations use social media to achieve different purposes. Differences typically occur in the type of social media platforms used by each demographic, with most women trending towards social sharing platforms such as Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram, whereas males are typically trending towards identity and reputation focused platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. General use platforms such as Facebook are still popular amongst both sexes (53% female to 47% male).

Of the general use platforms Facebook is the most popular social media platform in New Zealand with 85% of people stating they use the platform. Facebook messenger proves to be the most popular messaging app with 69% of people stating they’ve used the app, compared to Whatsapp at only 29% and Skype at 25%. When it comes to video, photos and hobby focused sharing platforms, Instagram leads with a usage of 45%, with Pinterest and Snapchat usage at 31% each. In terms of business focused apps LinkedIn has the highest usage at 29% compared to Twitter on 22%. Use of entertainment focused platforms is limited in New Zealand with 86% of people using YouTube, with rival platforms; Reddit and Twitch with a usage rate of 14% and 9% respectively [1].

What do customers want from me?

Many social media users within your target audience can become customers when engagement is managed correctly. In simple terms customers are looking for three things: Simple. Solutions. Now. [2].

Simple: customers want a clear concise message with easy to read content and quality graphics. If a customer has to go looking for the information they want on your social media site, you are going to lose a potential lead. If you are overly verbose or use acronyms, big words or technical jargon they don't understand you are also jeopardizing the relationship.

Customers are generally looking at your site because they have a problem that they need help to solve. Problems could range from needing information about your company, brand or products and service to requiring after market support and customer care. Your site should be able to demonstrate how you are able to address this issue and, most importantly, what the customer needs to do.

Now refers to the ability of customers to interact with your business on an anywhere, anytime basis. They may need to contact your business to resolve disputes, ask queries, provide feedback or seek clarification and social media provides a good platform for businesses to do this. Being available online means that customers are able to reach you on their terms rather than being restricted to the typical 9 to 5 mantra of most businesses. It doesn’t mean you have to monitor you social media sites like a hawk but it does require active engagement from someone within your business to respond to customers in a timely manner and post content that encourages further customer engagement.

For More Information

If you want to gain more insights regarding social media usage statistics from a New Zealand perspective read the Digital 2019 New Zealand Report.

If you want to investigate the influence of social media on customer behaviour read the McKinsey Insights Reports.

If you need help to develop a digital strategy that incorporates social media get in touch with us.


[1] DataReportal (2019, Feb 19). Digital 2019 New Zealand (January 2019) v01. Hootuite. https://www.slideshare.net/DataReportal/digital-2019-new-zealand-january-2019-v01/33

[2] Bughin, J. (2015, July). Getting a Sharper Picture of Social Media’s Influence. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/getting-a-sharper-picture-of-social-medias-influence

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