How do people choose to try a local business?
According to a new study released by CityGrid Media, it is a combination of many things, both online and offline.
The Harris conducted poll called the "National Online Consumer Behavior Study" spoke to 1,006 adults across the nation. It found that Facebook is a strong tool to spread buzz for your business, but word of mouth advertising is still king for local businesses.
20% of those surveyed said they "like" local businesses on Facebook compared to only 13% that said they write reviews. When focused down to the younger population, that discrepancy only grows. 49% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 said that they "like" businesses compared to only 18% who will write reviews.
Moral of the story: Have a strong Facebook presence. Post regularly through the site. Update fans on the goings-on of your business. Because most likely, the more "likes" you have, the better chance a person (especially a young person) will want to frequent your business.
But apparently Facebook is only one piece of the puzzle, as 75% of people surveyed reported spreading the word about local businesses face to face with friends.
"Surprisingly enough, Likes are trumping reviews when it comes to sharing feedback, but this does not translate to Facebook being the first or only place consumers turn when deciding to try someplace new," said Kara Nortman, SVP, Publishing at CityGrid Media. "What this means for small businesses on the Web is that they should encourage Likes, but also round out marketing efforts to reach consumers across a variety of touchpoints. The truth is, there’s no one silver bullet to influence people that are choosing local businesses on or offline."
As the owner of a local business, try to get your face out there as well. Be recognizable with your brand. The survey found that 47% of people 35 or younger are more influenced to try a new business’ services based on the owner’s comments or recommendations than from a friend.
Another interesting find from the study was the relative lack of influence the daily deals like Groupon or LivingSocial have on the decision to try a local business. Only 8% said that daily deals are their number one influencer. 52% of respondents said they check two or more websites like Google or Facebook before checking out a local business.