With Australia nearing an internet penetration rate of 90 percent and the global coronavirus pandemic giving Australians even more reason to connect online, social media platforms continue to be progressively integrated into everyday life. Beyond engaging with friends and strangers online, social media is becoming the basis for e-commerce advertising and sales, a management system for personal and public engagements, and even a primary source of news. Social media’s integration into analog life seems limitless and despite Australia lagging behind many other developed countries in terms of digital competitiveness , Australians are generally open to adopting the latest digital trends.

Beyond Facebook

Facebook remains the most subscribed social media platform for millennials and the older generations, but for the younger generations Z and Alpha, Facebook is less relevant. TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat have all established a slightly younger overall userbase than the long-established competition. However, YouTube has emerged as an exception to the rule. Often categorized as a streaming service, YouTube has evolved to bear more similarities with social media platforms than a streaming service like Netflix. Just like Facebook and Instagram, YouTube users can comment and like, make community posts, and create user-generated content. YouTube is even predicted to overtake Facebook in the number of users by 2025.

Occupying a completely different space in the social media landscape are specialized platforms like LinkedIn , which has restricted the social media format to professional relationships, and even dating apps are taking on more social media qualities. How Australians are using their social media accounts is constantly changing and most will engage with social media on a daily basis . Social media is now used as an alternative to Google to find information and as a source of news, however, a 2021 survey by the University of Canberra indicated that around half of Australians distrust news accessed via social media.

E-commerce going social

Another cross-platform development in social media that has taken off is social commerce, in which consumers can search for and purchase items via their social media accounts. In Australia, the majority of social shoppers are purchasing products on Facebook , but Instagram is also a popular medium for online shopping. Still, only around 30 percent of online shoppers use social media as a shopping medium , but even if purchases are not made directly through the social platform, businesses are well aware of social media as an important marketing tool. Today most businesses maintain a social media presence to engage with consumers and promote products and some will even engage influencers to market their products . However, products in the clothing, health and beauty, and toys categories appear to have the greatest appeal to social media consumers .


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