Tax gets social: digital marketing and financial incentives for small business

Over the past year we’ve seen a number of tax incentives on offer for small business, including a reduction in the company tax rate, an increase in the instant asset write-off threshold and, in the digital arena, the tax deductibility of expenditure on intangible assets, such as commercial websites.

We’ve have also seen a number of tax reforms and changes in the labour and consumer markets that have affected impacting many small to medium businesses: the ATO is cracking down on the cash economy and the gig economy has brought an increase in flexible and diverse work habits, including the trend to run a “side hustle”, where formerly hobby activities become the basis for viable businesses.

Never has there been a better time to get social! And by that we mean it’s time to consider using social media marketing for your business.

Why socialise?

With only a third of Australian businesses currently adopting a social media presence, many are missing out on business opportunities – including unparalleled market reach – and financial incentives. We may not be marketing specialists, but when it comes to the advantages of social media for business, the numbers speak for themselves – and we do know numbers!

Let’s take a look at how you can make the most of social media marketing tools to engage with your customers, increase your profit margins and reap tax benefits.

Online market potential

Everyday Australians’ use of the internet and mobile devices is still on the increase. There were approximately 13.5 million internet subscribers and approximately 25.4 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia at the end of December 2016.

Social media audience

Sensis recently reported that 79% of Australians now use social media, a figure 10 percentage points higher than last year. Almost all Australians aged 18–29 years are on social media (99%) and usage in the 30 to 50 age bracket is around 90%. Almost half the population of people aged 65 and over use social media too.

More than a third of people (35%) now access social media more than five times per day, and a quarter (24%) use social media to follow brands or businesses.

Most consumers (81%) access social media on their smartphones.

Which platform?

Ninety-five per cent of social media users prefer Facebook, 24% use LinkedIn and 19% are on Twitter according to Sensis. But in such a dynamic digital environment, popularity and preferences quickly change and new platforms regularly emerge. It’s best to engage the services of a marketing professional to advise which platforms are best suited for your business.

Customer demand and online shopping

Considering expanding your business to include the digital market? The retail space has been radically transformed by the digital revolution. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), online retail continues to grow in Australia, with a total worth of $983.7 billion in May 2017 – a figure that’s almost doubled since 2013. Having an active, engaging social media presence will nurture your relationships with customers and provide an effective way of driving traffic to your business website.

Tax incentives

In addition to increasing the potential size of your market, using social media offers other benefits for your business, including the tax deductibility of marketing expenses.

While setting up an account on a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter comes at negligible capital expense in comparison with setting up a business website or creating an app, the marketing expenses associated with updating and maintaining business social media content can be tax deductible as incurred under revenue.

Search or social marketing campaign costs, such as the following, may be tax deductible:

  • Google AdWords or search pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns;
  • Facebook ad campaigns;
  • Twitter ad campaigns;
  • Instagram campaigns;
  • display banner ad campaigns; and
  • costs for hiring an agency or contractor to conduct these types of campaigns.

Remember, as with all deductible expenses, the costs incurred must be directly related to your business activities, and keeping detailed records and receipts is essential.

If you’re thinking of taking your business online, including by using social media for marketing, we’re here to help you leverage the best tax results. What’s not to Like about that?