More fuel for the Facebook fire: The “Like” button, launched in 2010, is already more popular than Yelp as a way for customers to show their support for a local business online. Results of a new Harris Interactive survey also reveal that no single source or factor dominates the consumer decision-making process of which local business to choose in any given category. In other words, while Facebook “Likes” are winning the feedback war with Yelp and other reviews sites, it’s not the first or only information source that customers consult when making local purchase decisions – especially when trying something new.
The message for local business owners is this: While having a Facebook page and actively encouraging “Likes” is important, taking steps to reach customers through a variety of methods, both online and offline, is critical as well. There’s no single magic bullet that can influence everyone.
Here are the local business takeaways from the Harris Interactive study:
1. When it comes to recommending a local business or professional, or just showing support, a simple whisper in the ear still trumps a click. Three out of four local customers (75%) still recommend businesses by word-of-mouth.
2. 20% of people say they will “Like” a local business on Facebook to show their support, compared with about 13% who say they’ll write a review.
3. Younger age groups are much more likely to hop on Facebook over Yelp, as are women. While about 40% of people under 35 will “Like” a business in Facebook, the figure is 49% in the 18-24 group, versus 18% who said they would write a review. About 25% of women overall hit the “Like” button, versus 11% who write reviews.
4. Daily deal sites aren’t as big a factor as some people think. Despite the frenzied attention given to Groupon, Living Social and others, discounts and offers do not appear to be a major factor in how consumers choose a merchant. Less than one in ten people (8%) said a deal is the number one thing that influences them to try a local business.
5. More than half (52%) of adults under 35 visit more than two websites before visiting a local business; 63% of respondents under 35 head to Google; 24% visit Facebook; 21% look at reviews sites and much to marketers’ chagrin, a hefty 17% say that they simply click on the first link in a search result, whatever it happens to be.
6. People do care about the face behind the business. When doing their homework, customers under 35 say that feedback from the business owner can carry equal weight to input from friends or social networks. The message is clear: When doing online marketing, be sure you are personally represented along with your deals or specials. Almost half (47%) of people under age 35 are more influenced to try a business from the owner of the establishment than a friend
7. High gas prices and distance are changing how consumers decide; 67% of people overall said that gas prices now factor into their decision around which businesses to visit – 87% of women ages 18-34 said gas prices and distance influence their decision, compared to 67% of men in the same age range.
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About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.