"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."
Detailed findings include:
Likes Trump Reviews; but Face to Face Wins Over All
As Sally Fields famously gushed during her 1984 Oscar win, who doesn't want to be liked? With the popularity of the Facebook Like button, businesses don't need the Oscar stage to broadcast their popularity to the world. Even still, a whisper in the ear trumps a click when people want to show their support for local businesses. So, what are the leading ways that users show support?
•Three-quarters of people (75%) tell their friends
•20% of people say they "Like" it on Facebook to show their support, compared with only 13% who write a review
•Millennials are even more likely to hop on Facebook over Yelp, as are women:
•40% of people under 35 "Like" a business; that went to 49% in the 18-24 group, versus 18% who said they would write a review
•25% of women hit the "Like" button, versus 11% who write reviews
People do Their Homework, but The Deal's Just Extra Credit
While Facebook may be one of the first places people go to give feedback on a business, it's certainly not the only stop. Surprisingly, despite a sluggish economy and the frenzied attention as of late, discounts and offers are not a major factor in how consumers choose a merchant.
•More than half (52%) of adults under 35 visit more than two websites before checking out a local business
•63% of respondents under 35 head to Google
•24% visit Facebook; 21% look at reviews sites and 17% copped to clicking on the first link on the search results page (whatever that link may be…)
•Less than one in ten people (8%) said a deal is the number one thing that influences them to try a local business
People Care About the Face Behind the Name
When doing their homework, those under 35 report that the business owner's feedback may carry equal weight to input from friends or social networks. So, when doing online marketing - be it Facebooking, tweeting or responding to reviews -be sure your spirit is represented along with your 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
Feeling the Pain at the Pump
While the majority of adults go to a local business or out to eat at least once a week (73%), rising gas prices and distance are also impacting consumers' decisions about which hot spots to hit
•67% of people overall said they agree that gas prices factor into their decision around which businesses to visit
•Women may not only be the fairer sex, they may also be the frugal sex:
•87% of women ages 18-34 said gas prices and distance influence their decision, as compared with 67% of men in the same age range
"The economic conditions of the past few years have led to people being increasingly conscious of how and where they spend their money," continued Nortman. "This means it's all the more critical that business owners are casting a wide net and putting their dollars as many places as possible since it's clear there's no one magic tactic to attract new customers and keep your patrons happy."
This survey was conducted by Harris Interactive by telephone within the United States on behalf of CityGrid Media between March 16-20, 2011 among a nationwide cross section of 1,006 adults. For a full methodology, please contact Jenny Davis.