Where Do People Turn for Info About Their Local Community (Surprising Results?)

Found this interesting report put out by the Pew Research Center titled “How People Learn About Their Local Community“.

Among the interesting findings of particular interest to local business owners…

  • Internet rules for local restaurants and businesses. More adults (28%) rely on the Internet for information about restaurants and other local business than any other source. Newspapers are the 2nd preferred source (around 17%-18%) and Word of Mouth was 3rd (13%).
  • 55% of adults surveyed said that, at least¬†occasionally, they get information about restaurants, clubs or bars from the Internet. That figure was 60% for “other local businesses”.
  • While social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were included in the above “Internet” category, they run a distant third to search engines and special topics sites (like Yelp and Craigslist) as a source people rely on for this information. For restaurants, only 2% of respondents cited social media, compared to 21% for search engines and 9% of the special topics sites. For “other local businesses”, only 1% cited social media (21% for search engines and 10% for special topic sites).
  • Not surprisingly, the percentages of people who relied on the Internet for this information was much higher for respondents who were younger, wealthier and had lived in their city for a shorter period of time.
  • Print is not dead. Local newspapers are the #1 source people rely on for 11 of the 16 types of local information the research looked at. ¬†(Though most of these topics are not followed by most people on a regular basis.)
Most people are looking for your local business on the Internet (though we here at Main Street Marketing Community have known that for a while!). However, don’t forget about newspapers. Especially if you’re targeting an older demographic, paying some attention to newspaper coverage/advertising may be worth your while (especially if your competition is ONLY focused on the Internet).



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  1. Very interesting results and having moved from a city to a rural area recently, I have rediscovered the joys of the local community newspaper.

  2. Was there any data on your local online news media? I know it’s a new category, but in many suburbs and small towns, pure play local online news sites have been grabbing a huge audience. It’s an interesting new category for many local advertisers.

  3. @Brian – You’re right that is an interesting category though the survey did not include those sites separately. For this study they defined internet as “web only sources such as search engines, specialty-topic websites and social networking sites.” Websites of local newspapers and TV stations were included in the numbers for newspaper and TV, not the internet.

    In some of the data, they do mention locally focused sites like patch.com but lumps them in with bigger sites like Craigslist and Weather.com.

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