In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to present some seminars and workshops on the ‘Social Media’ phenomenon to a variety a non-profit and small business organisations. I generally try to look for local stats and data where possible. In Australia it’s often been difficult to get a true sense of what the local trends are. The mass of social media data is generally skewed by US figures, however when local data is analysed, most Australians are amazed at the fact that we use and consume more social media, per capita, than anyone else in the world. On average 6.5 hours per week. Why? Well, there seems to be a consensus amongst the cross section of Australians I ask.
Distance, think about it, a population of some 20 million in a space a little larger than the US mainland. People, families and communities are spread out across vast distances. We have always been desperate to connect; Australians think nothing of packing the whole family in the car, driving for 12 hours in 100-degree heat to have Christmas lunch with grandma and grandpa!
Before Facebook our favourite pastime was killing ourselves in road accidents on public holidays. That’s probably why Telstra has such an iron grip over the culture; the phone has been a lifeline to individual and business alike.
Yet, from this ‘tyranny of distance’ true innovation has often been born, in remote locations across the nation. In regional and remote Australia, when an essential tool or appliance needs repair, the wait time for parts, advice or just information can take days, weeks, sometimes months. You can’t wait months to have your water pump or beer fridge to be repaired. So instead of waiting in frustration they pondered and solved their problems, usually with whatever resources were at hand. ‘Stare at something long enough and you will pass through boredom into fascination.’ ~ Chinese proverb.
It’s probably part of the inherited Aussie psyche to look and find alternative solutions. This resonates in all spheres of creative and business endeavour. Australians have been waiting for Social Media & Web 2.0 for a long, long time, with the ability to slash the distances between ourselves and the rest of the world, we are gobbling it up, social media has not only been embraced by Australians but we are actively working at pushing at it’s envelope.
Your comments are welcomed.