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There’s no question that social media is here to stay, the only question is whether or not your business is taking advantage of these global networks.

ABS figures released in June revealed that only 26.1 per cent of Australian businesses had a social media presence. When you consider the fact that 99.6 per cent of Australian businesses claimed they had internet access, with broadband as the main type of connection, this is a surprisingly low figure.

SMEs looking for brand recognition and searching for a way to spread the word on their product or service should consider using social media as a key starting point.

Basically, it all comes down to business exposure and the potentially small investment needed for high-value publicity.

It’s all about numbers. How many people can your brand reach?

Take advertising on publications or using outdoor media for example. While both are proven ways of attracting customers, it’s inevitable that your audience reach is limited to the people reading that publication or driving past that sign. Of course, this isn’t taking into account potential word-of-mouth publicity, but reach is somewhat confined nevertheless.

Let’s use Facebook to illustrate the numbers an online social networking service can bring to boost your business profile. According to statistics compiled by SocialMediaNews.com.au for August 2014, Facebook has 13.4 million users in Australia alone. The World Bank estimates Australia’s population to be at 23.13 million, clearly, social media is rampant.

It’s free, FREE, to make a business profile on Facebook, and many other social media services for that matter. Not only would a well-managed social media profile potentially bring in droves of customers, it establishes an online presence for SMEs without the resources to run a business website.

Of course, nothing’s fully free in this world. While setting up accounts can be free, social media networks are businesses at the end of the day, and many charge companies wanting to reach a wider audience in their network. Facebook and Twitter, for example, both charge to “boost” a post’s viral potential or the reach of a company’s profile. The prices vary greatly, but it may be something to consider in order to get that initial headstart. After all, people may find your company more “legitimate” if it already has an online following of some kind.

Ultimately, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. SMEs finding that they are going by just fine without a social media presence – or find that their industry simply does not require it – needn’t worry; the rest can take the words above as food for thought.