Social Media Marketing

Phil Vasic (Australia) - Aussies: hard-working but mostly laidback, and unconcerned, right?

Actually, it might be time to reconsider that thought, because recent global research suggests we're changing. Well, at the very least in the workplace and online.

This year, our WorkLife Web research was particularly interesting, as, not only did it show marked changes in the online work and personal behaviour of Aussie workers from when we conducted it last year, but it reflected a more contemporary shift Australians are undergoing when it comes to communication, collaboration and general conduct in the workplace.

At the risk of sounding as clichéd as a Tourism Australia advert, you know the one, all koalas and barbeques, the last five years of social media, and fifteen years of the internet have fundamentally changed the way the vast majority of Australians behave at work. We've long discarded the perception that we're the lackadaisical, she'll be right, 9-5ers ducking off for a coldie in the pub at any opportunity. What we've gained more recently, is the view that we're hard-working and diligent. So much so, that last year's research showed we're working longer hours than ever and struggling to achieve the work / life balance we're so universally known for.

And it does seem, in part, due to the advance of the internet and social media. We're huge consumers of the internet, despite speeds being slower and feeds more expensive than other industrialised countries. It's little wonder then that we're such avid consumers of social media given we're so geographically dispersed. You could almost argue the internet was invented to unite Australians, as well as the rest of the world.

The research headline was actually: Social Media: Employees Get Smarter, Employers get Harder, and top line statistics showed:

• Australian employees are more aware online than other developed nations;
• One third of Aussie employers (and rising) ban access to social media; and
• The Aussie work life overlap has improved from last year, despite an increase in the prevalence of smartphones and tablets.

I'll highlight the main trends with you and I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Trend one: Aussies are highest on social security

Australians proved more aware online than other developed nations, and are demonstrating new levels of awareness, self-education and self-regulation when it comes to using the ‘social web'. In fact, 72% would not discuss a work-related matter on a social networking site (up from 50% last year) and two thirds always think about security when using social media, which was particularly high when conducting financial transactions online.

Trend two: Aussies get smart on social

Aussie employees are working harder to self-manage and self-regulate. Indeed, 20% cite that access to social media makes them more productive though 70% believe it can be distracting.

Trend three: Smart devices and smart working

As many of us will acknowledge, there is a rapid increase of smartphones, touchpads and mobile devices for employees and managers that cross home and work boundaries. Despite this, the Aussie work life overlap has improved since last year, despite a massive increase in smartphones and tablets. More than a third of employees say they now have ‘some' or ‘a lot' of work life overlap, down from 48% in 2010. 45% say smartphone use is up for business, and 34.5% say iPhones and tablets for business use is up.

Trend four: the circle of trust changed, with companies tending towards policing instead of empowerment

A whopping one third of Aussie employers (and rising) outright bans access to social media (compared to 20% 2010), and this comes despite acknowledging the benefits of the ‘social web', and more investment in social and collaborative technologies. More workplaces are choosing to lockdown access to the ‘social web' due to perceived challenges around effective information security management.

Trend five: Aussie organisations need to smarten up

Employers appear to have regressed, despite their investment in social media technologies and supporting technologies, 48% of Australian organisations see web collaboration as critical to future company success but 89% say data loss/security concerns are preventing technology adoption. So it appears we're heading back to the work / life balance we're known for, but have well and truly discarded the carefree (and perhaps careless) traits we're famous for. This also suggests some pointers as to why our economy has largely faired reasonably well. Let's hope that next year's research doesn't reveal that employer ‘stop and block' behaviour has contributed to a general reduction in global collaboration, as we're tracking well among industrialised nations.

By Phil Vasic, Regional Director - APAC, Clearswift



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