Smaller shops ride social wave

Jennifer Lowe, owner of Ivory and Lace in Austinmer, has had great success with social media. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Jennifer Lowe, owner of Ivory and Lace in Austinmer, has had great success with social media. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

With 66 per cent of Australia's internet population now on social media regularly, the potential for businesses to take advantage is huge.

"Ads in other media don't get noticed as much, but social media has definitely boosted my business," said Jennifer Lowe, owner of Ivory and Lace bridal boutique in Austinmer. Ms Lowe posts images of new stock, as well as wedding photos from happy customers.

"It's effective because it's instant. People will come in and show me the picture they saw on Facebook and ask for that dress."

Ben Hudson, owner of cafes Lee & Me and His Boy Elroy, said social media creates a community between businesses, staff and customers. Both his cafes post photos of new food and drinks, and share brief profiles on staff members.

"People like to feel a part of what you're doing. It makes them part of a community," Mr Hudson said.

The Yellow report states 36 per cent of small businesses and 48 per cent of medium businesses now use social media, compared with 27 and 34 per cent in 2012. Social media accounts for an average 16 per cent of small business marketing budgets, up to $4500 a year, while medium businesses can spend up to $39,000 per year on social media.

Ms Lowe said her Facebook and Instagram pages had helped sell dresses to interstate and international customers in search of hard-to-find designs.

"It's definitely one of the most important things, I don't even use it enough," she said.

Mr Hudson, however, said despite the benefits of social media - free, accessible, used by many - it was not the magic key to success.

"It definitely adds to your identity, but it can't be all you do," he said.

"We do print advertising and TV too. You have to have fingers on the pulse of more than just that one thing."

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