Connecting benefits

How are social networks supporting Australian small businesses and communities?

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The report, “Connecting Benefits”, explores some of the economic and social benefits of using Facebook from the perspective of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in Australia and local communities.

Advances in technology lie at the core of the innovation boom. However, it is a technology that has been a part of our lives for close to twenty years - online social networks - that are encouraging Australians to follow their passions in business and in the community.

The internet reflects, accelerates and amplifies both the good and bad in society. While it is often the negative that draws public attention, the positives generated by online platforms can, at times, be overlooked.

Online platforms such as Facebook connect people with friends, families, governments, not-for-profits and organisations of all sizes. These platforms have evolved into something far more than a place to share photos and updates. The platforms of today allow users, both individuals and businesses, to share live content, accept payments, sell products and communicate instantly.

Calculating a single measure of the economic and social impact of Facebook is not simple due to the breath of interactions on the platform. Whilst the economic impacts may be measured in dollar figures, the social impacts tend to be measured in activity. Ultimately, the community’s benefit from social networking is derived from both commercial and non-commercial activities, therefore the framework below was developed to help quantify some of the key interactions. This does not represent the complete range of social and economic benefits that could be attributed to Facebook, but rather focuses on the matters considered in the report.

Framework for assessing the community benefits of Facebook

What is the impact on employment and economic growth from SMBs using Facebook?

The research suggests over half of Australian SMBs are using Facebook for a variety of reasons such as advertising, sharing information, accessing new markets or to understand and communicate with their consumers.

This is helping to remove some of the barriers small businesses once faced in Australia, opening up new markets both nationally and internationally, meaning new businesses are ‘born global’. By extending their market, SMBs are able to grow their revenue base, resulting in an increase in employment and therefore greater economic growth in both metropolitan and regional Australia.

The report quantifies the economic impact of the growth of SMBs aided by their use of Facebook. The report specifically looks at the impact on employment and economic growth, or Gross Value Added.

How are communities using Facebook to build a supportive social infrastructure?

Social networking allows people to find their relevant communities - locally, nationally and internationally. Discussing and engaging with issues they care about encourages local community members to contribute to a social infrastructure that builds a more resilient and supportive society.

The report explores and quantifies three social benefits in further detail:

  1. Communication - Australians are using Facebook Groups as a mechanism to find new friends and create new communities that are inclusive and supportive
  2. Philanthropic awareness - NFPs are using Facebook and Instagram as a tool to connect with the Australian population to drive a positive social change, creating awareness around important issues and helping to maximise donations
  3. Support in adversity - Communities regularly connect via platforms such as Facebook to navigate their way through disasters, coordinating relief efforts and helping people in times of distress.

Click on the link below to download a copy of the report.

Download the report