Local Social is getting a lot of press these days -- as with any growing marketing channel, the use of social platforms brings questions and concerns about where companies should allocate their efforts and budgets.
So -- how do you know when you should jump on the local social bandwagon, whether you are a Yellow Pages publisher, a small business owner, or a directional media marketer? Your decisions in this -- and the many growing digital advertising options -- should be guided by high-quality research from reliable sources.
Not all research is created (or reported) equal.
For example -- here is a quotation from a recent Wall Street Journal blog:
Of those (businesses) engaging in social media for business purposes, 28% have a company Facebook page, 18% have a company LinkedIn page or group, and 8% have a company blog.
Don't be fooled. This does NOT mean that 28 percent of businesses have a company Facebook page. It only means that 28 percent of those businesses who engage in social media for business purposes, have a Facebook page.
A good first question would be, "What percentage of small businesses engage in social media?"
A good follow-up question would be,"Of those small businesses who engage in social media, what percentage do so for business purposes?"
Now, those numbers are harder to find. But, let's say (for the sake of illustration) that 40 percent of small businesses engage in social media, and 40 percent of those do so for business purposes. If those hypoethetical numbers were correct, that would mean that 16 percent of small businesses engage in social media for business purposes. Now, take 28 percent of that hypoethical 16 percent, and you would have about 4.4 percent of small businesses with a Facebook page.
At the end of the day, that number may not even be statistically significant!
The take aways? There are two:
- Question Authority. Dave Goddard, our lead analyst for Simba Yellow Pages, had a previous career as a tough-as-nails newspaper editor and publisher. Whenever an ambitious reporter brought him a story loaded with "facts," Goddard would ask, "And who's your source?" It's a good question. Learn to ask it. And pay attention to the answer.
- Develop Reliable Sources. You are faced with mission-critical strategic choices in this ever-changing market. Thinking that 28 percent of small businesses have a Facebook page, when in reality that number is much much smaller, could lead to your making bad decisions, allocating resources inappropriately. Those bad decisions could mean lost profits and opportunities, they could lead to unnecessarily lost jobs and income in the communities you serve.
Of course, at some point, you have to trust someone. Just be careful, ask questions, and choose wisely.