Social media is a constantly changing industry. Not only does the technology change with the rise of new platforms and features, but culture changes over time too (I’m looking at you, hashtags).

It’s always valuable to check out the latest research on how people use social media, because that changes from year to year. Something that worked a few months ago might not be the best approach anymore.

One of my favourite reports is the Yellow Social Media Report. It’s just released a new report in 2020. It looks at not just which demographics in Australia use social platforms, but their motivations for doing so.

The report surveys Australians both from a consumer-facing perspective and a business perspective about their social media usage and provides two separate reports off the back of this. It gives us insights into current behaviours and trends on social media, which we can then pour back into our businesses and how we manage social media.

If you manage social media on behalf of a business or you’re in social media marketing, it’s well worth a read.

In this blog, I’ve pulled out a few of the pieces of research which I’ve found most interesting and highlighted how it might impact your digital marketing.

Check out my take below.

Where are the people

A lot of businesses feel they need to be on “every” social network so they are seen more often. But it’s more efficient to be on the ones where your audience spends most of its time. The Yellow Report breaks down which ages and genders spend their time online (check out Page 11 of the Yellow Consumer report), so it’s worth assessing if your primary audience is on the platforms you spend your time on.

When we compare to previous reports, we’re seeing the demographics on platforms are changing. Interestingly, we’re seeing that people will stay on favourite social networks even as they age, meaning the primary audiences for all social platforms are slowly ageing up, as new social platforms emerge to cater for younger audiences (yep, looking at you Snapchat and TikTok!).

Despite the rise of TikTok and Snapchat, and Facebook replicating features of both, we haven’t seen any social networks collapse in the last few years (I miss you forever, Google Buzz). This might be due to the fact that people are spending time across more social networks than in the past, than just on a few – but there’s not hard and fast data on that one.


Know when your audience is online

With over 50% of people looking at social networking in the evening or in the morning (Page 14, Yellow Consumer report) – essentially, outside of business hours when we are usually creating content – using social media scheduling tools has never been more important. Posting your content at a time when your audience is online means it’s got more of a chance of being seen and increasing your reach. 

To find out if your audience is active in the evening, a hack is to use data from your website analytics: is there a day or time your audience is more likely to visit your website? It’s a good indicator of when they are thinking about you, so considering adjusting some of your social schedule to match.

As COVID-19 has changed our online behaviour, it’s useful to also draw on data from L&A Social with its Australian Social Media Usage in 2020 and the Change in Behaviour Post COVID-19 report. While in the early evening and late evening is still the time most people spend the majority of their time online, it seems like social media use is spread out throughout the day (Page 13, L&A Social report), while in the past it was squeezed into lunch breaks during the day (I suspect, the only time they could get away with it in an office environment!).

Match your content to the platform

When people head to social media, according to the Yellow research, it’s because people want to relax, or feel connected to others (Page 16, Yellow Consumer report). Being aware of why people are turning to social media reinforces that if your social media marketing is human, personal and engaging it’s going to be more effective because it isn’t in conflict with why people use that channel. Content which is overtly, excessively sales-driven is a big turn off on social media, and knowing that people turn to social media for human connection is a big reason why.

Additionally, when we look at motivations for why people turn to social media during the pandemic, reports that it’s essentially escapism: entertainment, creativity, connection, comfort, authenticity and positivity. How is your brand working on sharing these values through its social content?

You don’t impress me much

I believe one of the core motivation for businesses growing Likes is the fear that people won’t see their business as legitimate or trustworthy if it has a smaller social media following. In fact, 51% of small businesses measure the success of their social media based on Likes (Page 19, Yellow Business Report).

However, over the last few years, with it being much easier to buy Likes online, far fewer people see Likes as an indicator of business legitimacy.

Interestingly, this year the report looked at what factors people would find as better indicators of trust: and that is how often as business updates their social media channel, and how they engage with their customers online (Page 21, Yellow Consumer Report). It’s not to do with follower numbers at all.

The key takeaway is that it’s a lot more about the experience you create for your customers, than how many customers you’ve got.

How big is your network

The survey asks how many followers or friends an average person has. Generally, across most social channels, it’s an average of 200 people on each platform (Page 31, Yellow Consumer Report).

If you’re looking to increase your brand reach, consider that if you had five people talk about your business on their social network, that you’ve reached another thousand people.

Inspiring user-generated content from your audiences is a simple way to help your brand reach more people, without having to grow your follower base. Make it easy for your audience to know your account details and to tag your business. (But making sure the effort they put in is worth the reward!)

Or, as I’ve written about in the past, inspire your staff to be your cheerleaders and share your content across their networks.

Going regional

People in regional areas are still on social media, but they just check it less frequently compared to metro counterparts (Page 34, Yellow Consumer Report).

If you’re running campaigns with a focus on regional Australians, it might be worth considering running campaigns over a longer period, so people have an opportunity to see your promotion.

How to handle trolls

One of the biggest concerns of small business owners is how to handle negative comments, difficulties with clients or trolls online (Page 9, Yellow Business Report).

We often hear about how to grow social media channels, but we don’t often discuss how to actually manage stressful situations online. I’ve blogged about this in the past (and also here!) and have a webinar on how to build an Issue Escalation plan here, too.

Entertain vs Intent

Is your business something which sells things to customers multiple times, or is it one-off? Do they plan to buy it, or is it a reaction to something that has happened (like a car breaking down?!).

The difference between intent-based businesses (think a tradie who is fixing something in your home vs a fashion company) is that if they are hired for a one-off job, so ongoing relationships are less relevant. For high intent-based industries, focussing on Google Search or Google My Business can be a more effective tool than social media to convert customers.

It’s not to say that you shouldn’t have social media channels at all – because 33% of Australians look at a social channel before purchasing (Page 6, Yellow Consumer Report) – but being aware of where your leads are more likely to come from and that the role of social media marketing for some businesses is about helping the decide to work with you, or validating their decision.

Off the back of this, the Yellow report highlights that people are more likely to follow specific industries, like holidays, entertainment, fashion and cafes – while less likely to follow things like professional services, media and software (Page 20, Yellow Consumer Report). Being aware of how people are likely to find and engage with your business is useful to set expectations when you’re planning your marketing strategies.


Will you change any of your social media tactics based on the data from the 2020 Yellow Report? Or have you learned something new about how people interact with your business online?

Check out the full report online and I’d love to hear what you found the most interesting piece of data!

Want to work with Rachel?

Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.