The Facebook “like” button, which has been around for just over a year, has already become an important cultural phenomenon. A couple of months ago, a study by Yahoo Labs’ Yury Lifshits looked at how “likes” affect traffic to news stories by reinforcing memes, making the most popular content even more popular as it is passed around.
Now a new study from CityGrid Media and Harris Interactive finds that “likes” are also becoming major drivers of online buzz for local businesses, having eclipsed reviews sites as a method by which consumers show their support. While this certainly doesn’t mean that reviews sites like Yelp are doomed, the findings may indicate that local businesses should put a little more behind their Facebook marketing efforts.
That said, the survey also found that here’s no one overwhelming online driver sending people to local businesses — including daily deals and online coupons. In fact, people often do research on multiple sites before checking out a business in their vicinity.
“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,” Kara Nortman, CityGrid Media’s SVP, Publishing, said in a statement. “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.”