How do people get information about their community?


I listen to a lot of tech-related podcasts on my daily commute via train every day. If one listens to the pundits the social world is the near future and traditional methods of communication will be permanently left behind.

The observations are limited but understandable considering the well-documented decline in traditional media use.

There’s no doubt that future communications will be increasingly social and mobile.

But there’s also little doubt that the basics of information gathering are well established; communicators ignore or belittle them at their peril.

If one looks at the Pew Internet and America Life Project and other data from Pew a basic pattern emerges as to how people get information about a variety of topics:

Traditional sources of news (i.e., newspapers-television) continue to carry significant influence when people seek information;

E-mail drives commerce and communication (another report);

And search engines trump social media sites as to how people get their information online. When we created our government social media site six years ago we clearly understood that it had to be built around search; not social media, not registered users, but search.

The report below is a continuation of Pew research on how people get information on business or communities (see http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Local-news/Part-1.aspx for a companion report).

My only problem with the data below is the definition of social as Twitter or Facebook etc. Social media “is” an integral part of any website development strategy. A website and social based strategy “is” the essence of social with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the others as sideshows for most of us.

Regardless of the immense power of Facebook the platform’s ability to get users to come to your site for information is limited in most (not all) cases. Social drives traffic for new sites but for mature sites the great bulk of traffic comes from search, direct access and links.

The bottom-line in all of this is that people who communicate should lead with the basics (traditional media, search, e-mail) while developing a social media platform.

Pew Research:

Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses

People looking for information about local restaurants and other businesses say they rely on the internet, especially search engines, ahead of any other source.

Newspapers, both printed copies and the websites of newspaper companies, run second behind the internet as the source that people rely on for news and information about local businesses, including restaurants and bars.

And word of mouth, particularly among non-internet users, is also an important source of information about local businesses.

Some 55% of adults say they get news and information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs. When they seek such information, here are the sources they say they rely on most:

51% turn to the internet, including:

search engines – 38% rely on them

specialty websites – 17% rely on them

social media – 3% rely on social networking sites or Twitter

31% rely on newspapers

23% rely on word of mouth

8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or websites

Some 60% of adults say they get news and information about local businesses other than restaurants and bars. When they do:

47% say they rely most on the internet, including:

search engines – 36% rely on them

specialty websites – 16% rely on them

social media – 1% rely on social network sites or Twitter

30% rely most on newspapers

22% rely on word of mouth from family and friends

8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or the websites of local stations

5% rely on local radio

People who seek out information and news about local businesses and restaurants are a diverse and somewhat upscale group. As distinct populations, they are more likely to live in relatively well-off households – those earning $75,000 or more – and have college educations.

In addition, the 55% of adults who get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs are more likely to be women, young adults, urban, and technology adopters.

The 60% of adults who get information about other local businesses are also more likely to be tech users.

Source: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Local-business-info/Overview.aspx

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