Monday, September 22, 2014

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are more likely to use Facebook than the general Australian population

I've witnessed indigenous communications teams in government agencies dismiss the use of social media in indigenous engagement out of a belief that indigenous Australians prefer face-to-face communication and that those in remote communities had significant access issues to the Internet.

While these two views may be true, it's good to see some actual research on the topic by the McNair Ingenuity Research Institute.

As reported by SBS and in BandT, the Institute surveyed four-hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders nationally on their media habits.

The results found that Facebook use by this group was twenty per cent higher than the national population average.

Lead Survey Researcher Matt Balogh said that typically across Australia 42 per cent of the adult population had a Facebook account, whereas 68 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in metropolitan areas of the capital cities used Facebook.

In regional towns, 61 per cent of Indigenous Australians used Facebook and in remote communities it fell to 44 per cent - still above the national population average.

Due to poor access to desktop computers and broadband, the research found that most remote users relied on mobile devices for Facebook access. As a result, Balogh said to BandT, “Indigenous Australians living in remote areas are having a completely different experience of social networks and the Internet than mainstream Australia”.

So if you're engaging with Indigenous Australian audiences, don't dismiss social media.

The research is ongoing, so expect more insights in coming years.

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