Among the social networks, Facebook has done the most to court small businesses — and, it appears for good reason. A new study from G/O Digital, the digital marketing wing of Gannett, finds that consumers use Facebook for product research more than any other social media outlet.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 adults between the age of 18-29, found that eighty percent of respondents check reviews online at least once a week before they step into a physical store. Facebook is by far the top choice among social media platforms for this process: 68% vote it the number-one site, compared to Twitter and Pinterest’s 11% and 12%.
“Very few businesses have the capacity to drive this level of nationwide scale with small businesses, so the most bang-for-your-buck way for many small businesses to drive in-store activity (and sales) through social marketing in the short term is going to be Facebook,” said G/O Digital CMO Jeff Fagel. “Pinterest and Twitter should definitely have a place in their larger social marketing strategy, but will serve different purposes and support different objectives.”
Deals and reviews appear to be the most effective tools in influencing Facebook users. According to the study, four out of 10 respondents say that an offer which could be redeemed in-store is the most likely tactic to drive them to make a purchase at a local business while only one in 10 people would do the same in response to a photo or video contest. Meanwhile, 80% of respondents say they would be more likely to purchase from a small business with positive reviews on their Facebook page
When done correctly, Facebook ads have huge potential return on investment. G/O Digital’s case study with Hesselson’s, a small pool and outdoor goods business, shows an increase of $5,500 in net sales and a 1100% ROI when the company used Facebook’s in-store offer ad type. With more than 250 offers claimed and 60 redeemed, Hesselson’s exemplifies how utilizing Facebook as form of targeted marketing can make a significant impact for local businesses.
The results from the report speak to the evolution of shopping. Purchase experiences were previously predominantly tactile and had a sense of spontaneity, but today’s consumers are more informed and empowered than ever.
“Mobile is personal, mobile is local, and Facebook is a mobile-first, social experience,” says Fagel. “So instead of thinking and bucketing their mobile and social marketing strategies as two separate channels, it’s time to think of both as behaviors. That’s the big “aha” small business owners need to take away from this research.”
Becca Goldstein is a reporter for Street Fight.