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While many multi-national corporations and nation-wide companies have taken to social media, local businesses have been slower to take to it. One of the reasons that I have heard more than once is that “We are local. People find us. They don’t look for us on the Internet.” or some version thereof!

Today I found a compelling counter argument from a report the Pew Research Center released on September 26, 2011. This is what they found about How People Learn About Their Local Community: 

Internet is forging ahead for local information!

The younger demographic is increasingly relying on the Internet for finding everything from local news to local businesses. How did I make the jump from local community to local businesses? Well, Pew Research has released a report today about Where People Get Information About Restaurants and Local Businesses. And the statistics are noteworthy.

Some 55% of adults say they get news and information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs.  When they seek such information, here are the sources they say they rely on most:

  • 51% turn to the internet, including:
    • search engines – 38% rely on them
    • specialty websites – 17% rely on them
    • social media – 3% rely on social networking sites or Twitter[1]
  • 31% rely on newspapers, including
    • printed copies – 26% rely on them
    • newspaper websites – 5% rely on them
  • 23% rely on word of mouth
  • 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or websites

Some 60% of adults say they get news and information about local businesses other than restaurants and bars. When they do:

  • 47% say they rely most on the internet, including:
    • search engines – 36% rely on them
    • specialty websites – 16% rely on them
    • social media – 1% rely on social network sites or Twitter
  • 30% rely most on newspapers, including:
    • printed newspapers – 29% rely most on that
    • newspaper websites – 2% rely on them
  • 22% rely on word of mouth from family and friends
  • 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or the websites of local stations
  • 5% rely on local radio

What does all this translate to for the local chiropractor or the elementary school fundraising committee? Establish your presence on the web. And notice that while Facebook and Twitter and social media do their part, the search engines still rule the virtual world. So, identify your keywords and ensure that you show up in searches when people look up information about those keywords.

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