Word-of-mouth is still the most popular way for consumers to recommend local businesses, though social channels are figuring more into the equation, finds a BrightLocal survey, the results of which were published in June 2012 on Search Engine Land. 77% of the survey respondents said they had shared a recommendation through word-of-mouth in the past year, down slightly from 79% in 2010. Even so, this was more than double the 32% of respondents who said they had shared advice through Facebook, though that figure represents a 18.5% rise from 27% in 2010. The proportion using Twitter as a recommendation channel increased from 6% to 9%, but trailed those using Google Maps/Google Places (13%).
Overall, consumers appear to be using more channels to spread the word this year, with the average number of channels used by respondents up from 1.23 to 1.42.
These findings may not be news to SMBs: a December 2011 survey by Zoomerang in partnership with GrowBizMedia revealed that SMBs were primarily relying on word-of-mouth as their source of customer attraction this year, with social media proving less of a factor.
Men Use More Channels Than Women
The BrightLocal report also reveals that men use, on average, a greater number of channels for their local business recommendations than women (1.53 vs. 1.33). Looking at the specific channels they employ reveals some interesting divergences. For example, on the one hand, women are more likely than men to have shared a recommendation by word-of-mouth (78% vs. 74%). On the other hand, men are more likely to have shared via Facebook (34% vs. 32%) and Twitter (12% vs. 7%). There’s no contest when it comes to recommendations via Google Maps/Google Places, with 20% of men reporting having done so, compared to just 7% of women.
Women More Apt to Recommend
Men may be using more channels, but women find more reasons to recommend local businesses, according to the report. When it comes to the various reasons why they would recommend a business, women are more likely than men to cite reliability and professionalism (68% vs. 62%), friendliness (50% vs. 39%), the existence of a special offer (46% vs. 27%), and a unique and original experience (44% vs. 25%).
With Offers and Discounts Come Recommendations
Consumers seem to be increasingly influenced by offers. This year, 2 in 3 said they would be more likely to recommend a local business to people they know if the business has a good value offer or discount. This represents a marked increase from 52% of consumers who responded that way in 2010. Just 4% this year said they would not be influenced to recommend a business based on an offer or discount. There was little gender variation in the responses.
- Consumers aren’t necessarily motivated by personal gain when it comes to recommendations. Just 35% would promote a local business to their acquaintances if they could benefit personally from doing so, down from 41% in 2010. Even so, 40% said they may be influenced to do so, up from 27% in the previous survey.
- Roughly one-quarter of the female respondents said they would definitely not recommend a business based on personal gain, compared to just 7% of men.
- The most popular business types that consumers have recommended based on a good or bad experience are restaurants/cafes (65%), doctors/dentists (49%), and hotels, B&Bs, or guest houses (43%).
About the Data: The BrightLocal data is based on an online survey conducted between January 15 and March 1, 2012. There were 2,862 respondents.