The Pew Research Center through its Internet and American Life Project has released a study called “Where People Get Information About Restaurants and Other Local Businesses“. It can be a bit of an eye opener when it comes to the perceived pervasive sharing about social activities by using social media.
The chart below shows where people go to get information about local businesses other than restaurants, bars and clubs.
The news for social media is only slightly better when you include bars, restaurants and clubs in the mix with only 3% of the respondents saying social media does this job for them. Any time you see the words in a column saying “to small a group to give reliable statistics” you have to wonder about the impact of that area.
Oh and the big online winner for this information? Search. This says in some ways that people might actually be looking for a less biased review or it could be saying something entirely different. Either way it looks like people don’t trust the taste of their social media “friends”.
To be fair, the data used in these charts is approaching 1 year old already (January of 2011) which is a bit unusual for Pew but even if the number is higher today how much higher could it actually be?
In the end this should do nothing to deter local businesses from using social. In fact, there are many success stories of all types of local businesses doing great things with social to help sustain their business.
What research like this should do is slow down the “social media is a silver bullet and it will solve all of your marketing woes talk”. Purveyors of that kind of over the top hucksterism have tarnished the image of an industry that, for the most part, is trying to do the right thing. Sad to say but that hype is making the social media marketing industry sound much like the search industry. As the lines further blur between the two that isn’t likely to end any time soon.
So what is your reaction to these findings? What do you see in your business? Let us know in the comments.