How Australians Are Using Social Media

The must-have consumer behaviour report to boost digital marketing for your business

From staying in touch with friends to posting snaps of Sunday brunch or sharing viral cat videos, many of us now live our lives through social media.

Facebook remains the world�s largest social media platform and recently reached the record of 2-billion monthly active users – that�s two thirds of the world�s population with internet access.

The rise of social media is reflected here in Australia too, where the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report has revealed eight in 10 Australians now use social media.

Understanding who these people are, and how, when and why they use social media, is key to making this important digital marketing platform work for your business.

The 7th annual Sensis Social Media Report reveals that while social media use is increasing, what consumers want from brands on social media and why they use it continues to change.

We�ve read all 81 pages of the report to bring you a summary of must-have information to maximise the ROI of your social media marketing, starting today.

A snapshot of who is using social media in Australia in 2017

According to the report, 8 in 10 Australians are now using social media. That figure rises to more than 99% of Australians in the 18-29 age group using social media, with use gradually dropping off as the ages progress, down to just under half of senior Australians aged 65+. (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, p13)

8 in 10 Australians use social media
Sensis Social Media Report
35% of Australians use social media more than 5 times a day
Sensis Social Media Report, p12

Females are slightly more active on social media, as 60% of Australian women use social media at least once a day, compared to 58% of men.

Daily social networking is highest in the Northern Territory with 82% of Territorians using social media at least once daily, followed by Tasmania and South Australia with 75% and New South Wales with 62%. Social media appears to be less popular in Queensland, with 26% of Queenslanders saying they never use social networking.

Social media users in Australia have potential to connect with, and importantly influence, hundreds of immediate contacts.  The average Australian has 234 Facebook friends, and an average of 469 people in their networks across the six top platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Google+ and Instagram.

Why Australians use social media

97% of 18-29 year olds use docial media to catch up with friends
Sensis Social Media Report, p34

The 2017 Sensis Social Media Report reveals the main reason Australians use social media is to catch up with family and friends (89%). This has dropped since the peak of 95% in the 2014 report. (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, pp33-34)

Other top reasons Australians regularly use social media are sharing photographs and videos (57%), watching videos (43%), getting information on news and current events (37%), playing games (34%) and making new friends (30%). Of all reasons people have ever used social media, 45% have posted a selfie, 40% have posted photos of food, and 39% have deleted friends.

Australians aged 30-39 are most likely to use social media to follow or find out about particular brands or businesses (27%), and more specifically to obtain offers or promotions (22%). Internet savvy seniors aged 65+ are the most likely age group to use social media to research products and services before they buy.

Men are more likely to use social media to engage with a brand for customer service issues rather than using email or telephone, 11% vs only 8% of women.

Products and services Australians are searching for on social media

In 2017 more people are using social media to research things for the home
Sensis Social Media Report, p35

Clothing and fashion used to top the list of social media searches in Australia, but this year more Australians are using social media to search for items for their homes. Electrical goods are the most common product search (47%), followed by furniture and �other things� for the home (42%).

Among the people who regularly use social media to research purchases, their most recent searches were for clothing and fashion or appliances and electrical equipment (both 17% respectively), holidays, travel and accommodation (10%), movies or TV shows (9%) and entertainment, furniture or things for the home (8%). A total of 15% of people indicated they were searching for something other than the provided options on their most recent search.

Products and services are more likely to be researched on mobile devices (52%) compared to computers (35%).

And in tracking the pathway to purchase, the survey found 52% of social media product research led to a purchase, slightly down from 59% in 2016. Of those purchases, 61% were made online. (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, p36)

Social Media Searches that lead to purchases
Sensis Social Media Report, p36

When and where people use social media in Australia

Seven in ten Australians are active on social media in the evenings, still the most popular time for social media usage across all gender and age brackets.

The biggest gender divide occurs at lunchtime and during breaks, when more males use social media than females. Overall, 21% of Australians are using social media while they are working, but this figure rises where almost half of Australians aged 18-29 admit to using social media while at work (46%).

96% of Australians use social media at home
Sensis Social Media Report, p28

Ironically, most Australians are getting social while at home, with 96% using social media in their own house. This is followed by 43% on public transport, up from 25% in 2016, 37% in the car, up from 20% last year, and 33% at restaurants, bars or parties, up from 19% previously. Despite those requests to switch off, 5% admit to using social media at the cinema, and 9% use it at the gym.

Social media use in the home
Sensis Social Media Report, p29

The living room is the most popular room of the house for accessing social media (84%), followed by the bedroom (59%) up from 42% in 2016, and the kitchen (34%) up from 22%. Overall, 14% of Australians are using social media while on the toilet, but this is most common among the younger age group, where 29% of 18-29 year olds admit to social networking while on the loo. Facebooking from the toilet is a popular pastime in the Northern Territory, too (35%). (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, pp28-29)

How Australians access social media

We are all opting for the convenience of mobile devices, and now 81% of Australian social media users access social networking on their smartphones, up nine points from 2016. Smartphones are most popular with 18-29 year olds, with 97% accessing social media this way.

Preferred platform for accessing social media
Sensis Social Media Report, p27

Desktop computer usage has plummeted from 60% in 2011, to just 28% this year, and even laptop use has declined, from a peak of 69% in 2012, to a low of 30% in 2017. Females (31%) are more likely to access social media on a tablet than males (18%).

With mobile devices so popular, most people are accessing social media on apps rather than websites (68% vs 9%). Seven out of 10 social media users prefer using apps, but the number of people using both websites and apps has almost doubled since last year, from 12% to 23%. (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, p27)

The most popular social media channels in Australia

Social network sites used in Australia
Sensis Social Media Report, p17

It is the largest and most popular social networking platform in the world, so it comes as no surprise 94% of Australian social media users are on Facebook.

Snapchat has seen the biggest jump in Australian users, doubling from 20% to 40% in one year, but it is still topped by Instagram (46%) and YouTube (51%). Twitter�s popularity has also increased from 20% to 32%, likely due to the increasing visual capability of the network.

LinkedIn and Google+ are least appealing to those aged under 30, and more females than males prefer Facebook (97% v 91%), but males have higher usage of all other platforms. (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, pp17-18)

Snapchat is the most frequently accessed social media platform, with its users averaging 42 uses per week, while most Australian Twitter users Tweet more than 5 times a day (67%).

In each individual session, Australians are spending an average of 32 minutes on Snapchat, 28.1 minutes on Twitter, 26.9 minutes on Instagram and 23.2 minutes on Facebook. This equates to up to three hours a day on Snapchat for some users, and 10 hours per week on Facebook. (Sensis Social Media Report 2017, p22)

What Australian consumers want from brands and businesses on social media

It�s the question on the lips of every business and social media marketer – what do they want from us? Well, the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report has the answer for you.

Free stuff!

Discounts and giveaways are the main offering consumers want from businesses and brands they follow on social media. These reasons topped the chart at 54% and 48% respectively, up from 41% and 30% last year.

Three in 10 followers are looking for product information, while 22% want information about the company, or invitations to events. Twenty per cent would like free tips and advice, and 19% are looking for feedback forums. Unfortunately 29% keep us guessing, indicating their reasons for following businesses don�t fit into any of the provided categories.

What do consumers want from businesses or brands that they follow?
Sensis Social Media Report, p38

The types of brands and businesses people follow on Facebook have changed too, with lifts in sporting brands and clubs, work or profession related pages, and electronics and technology businesses, while telecommunication providers and fashion brand follows have declined. Interestingly, this was reversed on Twitter, where the only increase was in fashion and clothing related businesses, while there was significant drop off in interest in sporting brands and work related content.

Attitudes towards social media advertising are softening, with more users welcoming suggested pages. Fewer people are ignoring social media ads (44% down from 53%) and compared to last year, more people are more likely to inspect a brand�s social media presence before making their first online purchase with them.

Business can build trust with users by interacting positively with customers on social media, as indicated by 64% of survey respondents, up from 52% last year. Engaging and relevant content is also key to building trust (63%), as well as regularly updating content (59%). These reasons were all more important than having a large number of followers (46%).

Consumers won�t hesitate to unfollow a brand on social media if they share irrelevant or unappealing content (43%) or show too many ads (35%). Interestingly, showing too much content is more likely to get a page unfollowed than sharing too little (28% v 7%).

Reason for no longer following a company on social media

Sensis Social Media Report, p42

And while only 22% leave business reviews or ratings, 44% of Australian social media users read business reviews and blogs, and 60% of those will read up to five reviews before making a purchase decision.


While there is still a very delicate path to tread in order to get your social media mix just right, the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report provides valuable insights into consumer behaviour in Australia.

With the right management and digital marketing team on your side, this information can help you make the most of your brand�s social media presence in 2017.


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