Internet or Newspaper? Search or Social? What Works Best for Local?

Pew Internet just released a study about how consumers get information about local businesses.  Here is part of  a chart from that study that compares Internet to newspaper as a source for local business information – other than restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Right away we see that the Internet (47%) is more popular for consumers then is a local newspaper (30%)  for getting information about local businesses.  That’s not too surprising as newspaper readership has been dropping dramatically for the last several years.  Newspapers are still important, but not worth all of your local advertising effort.

Inside of the Internet numbers, I’m a little surprised at how weak social media looks .  While search engines were used by 36%, only 1% say they turned to social media to learn about a local business.  I don’t think this means we should tell independent retailers to ignore their social media site, it just means consumers don’t go there looking for a business.  Over time that could change as consumers come to expect a local business to have a Facebook site, but we’re not there yet.

On the newspaper side, I’m really surprised at how few turn to a newspaper’s website to get information about local business.  At 2% the number is to low to even trust.  I guess that if you’re going to go online to search for a business Google is much faster and more thorough then a newspaper’s site.  And, unlike having a Facebook page, consumers expect all local businesses to have a website.

The takeaway is that if you want to reach local consumers you need both the old and new media knowing that the trend is toward more new media then old.