Businesses abandoning social media
New Zealand businesses are less likely to engage in social media than they were a year ago.
That is according to a surprise finding by accounting software firm MYOB, which regularly surveys small and medium-sized enterprises on business trends.
MYOB said only a fifth of the 1000 firms it surveyed now reported using social media - such as Facebook and Twitter - down from almost a quarter in August last year.
It concluded that firms were struggling to find the time for the latest online tools.
Fewer businesses than a year ago had a social media presence, used search engines to advertise their businesses or maintained a blog, it said.
In contrast, MYOB said businesses were more likely to now be using the internet for transactional purposes, such as buying from suppliers.
New Zealand general manager Julian Smith said businesses had got good results from employing social media as part of their "marketing mix", but appeared to be struggling to maintain an active social media presence in the long term.
"[They] don't have the time or the resources to manage a wide variety of online marketing tools."
Multinationals Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft together spent US$2.25 billion in a spate of acquisitions in June buying social media businesses Vitrue, Buddy Media and Yammer.
Tim Howell, marketing manager at 350-person Wellington information technology firm Intergen, said businesses using social media for external marketing needed to think through their strategy.
"A tweet here or a Facebook post there isn't going to create any sustainable presence to engage customers, which is what it is all about.
"It requires a consistent effort, a degree of responsiveness and willingness to be open. That fits with the culture of many organisations, but some it doesn't. If you don't plan and resource for that you probably won't achieve the results you are looking for."
However, businesses were increasingly using "enterprise micro-blogging tool" Yammer to gather and share information within their companies, he said. "We have been using it internally since 2008 and it is a great short "bursty" way of sharing information with colleagues without going 'all-out' and doing a blog post."
WHAT BUSINESSES TOLD MYOB THEY DID AND HOW THAT HAD CHANGED SINCE AUGUST 2011
Use internet search engines such as Google to promote their business: 28% (down -15.2%)
Conduct email marketing to potential or existing customers: 28% (up 12.0%)
Use any form of social media for business purposes: 20% (down -16.7%)
Network with business colleagues and/or clients on LinkedIn: 17% (not measured in 2011)
Connect with customers and fans via a business page on Facebook or Google+: 16% (not measured in 2011)
Communicate via Twitter: 4% (not measured in 2011)
Share news and updates via a company blog: 10% (not measured in 2011)
Use Skype or similar to make free business phone calls over the internet: 21% (up 23.5%)