Survey reveals power of Facebook for local SMEs

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Social Media

Consumers turn to social

Research has revealed that Facebook is the top platform 18 to 29 year olds use to research local businesses.

The study, entitled Facebook Advertising: The Social Commerce Lifeline for Small Businesses, was released by marketing agency G/O Digital this week. 1000 young US consumers were quizzed to discover their methods of researching the products or services of a small local business before visiting in person.

The report explains that consumers in this age group are now "digital hunters", with 30 per cent saying they use the internet to research local businesses several times a day, and 80 per cent saying they would do so at least once a week.

The survey's key finding was that a huge 62 per cent of respondents said Facebook is the most useful method. Pinterest was the platform of choice for 12 per cent, while just 11 per cent said they would use Twitter.

59 per cent would visit the Facebook page of a business at least once a week while making their decision, while on the paid front, 58 per cent would engage with Facebook ads at least once a week.

What works?

Consumers were also asked about the efficacy of various Facebook marketing tactics in encouraging them to make an in-store purchase. The clear winner was offers that can be redeemed in-store, which 40 per cent of respondents believed to be most effective. Just 12 per cent said promoted posts, and nine per cent sponsored stories.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent said they would be more likely to engage with a local business if there are positive customer reviews on its website or Facebook page.

Jeff Fagel, chief marketing officer of G/O Digital, said:

"To succeed, small businesses must first understand consumers' online-to-offline shopping behaviors and invest at least a portion of their digital marketing dollars into the right technology, tools and partners to create precisely targeted, relevant and personalized experiences."

Facebook recently came under fire for a perceived reduction in organic reach, as businesses claimed their pages and posts were losing visibility from News Feeds, making it difficult to reach consumers. However, the social network responded by saying that this is purely due to the amount of content that is now being posted, with businesses vying with the user's friends and family for space.

Kleon West, business development director at theEword, commented: "This survey demonstrates once again the importance of a well-managed Facebook presence. Using social to share content, provide special offers and engage with your audience is a great way to boost your visibility, and of course, can be a relatively low cost method of promotion."