I live on an island. Our island is adjacent to a major West Coast city so many adults and kids commute to the urban area for work and school. We are not isolated, but have a moat. Our 1600 households are wealthy with median income 30% above the Province as a whole. We have a very eclectic mix of people. Officially our population totals 3300, of which 2600 are adults over 20 with 2/3 over 40. Broadband internet access is available to virtually every household and I’d estimate over 90% have it. Part of my life involves marketing a beer and wine store in the community; I have an email newsletter which goes to 200+ people, I advertise in the local paper, write a wine column etc. I am on Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter. So having set the stage, read on…
How far does social media reach into this community? I’ve done some research and come up with the following:
Of my total email contacts worldwide and my store mailing list, about 30% are on Facebook. About 20% of my global list are on LinkedIn but only about 10% of my store list are on that network. 3% of global email list and near 0% of store mailing list are on twitter
LinkedIn users in the communitys: < 100
These are primarily male (> 70%). A good proportion of whom work off-island. I estimate that around 40% of these are inactive users based on a recent resynchronization of email addresses and invitations. Many of the inactive users were persuaded to set up on the network by friends but don’t use it and don’t have automated email notifications on. Before you say they just didn’t want to connect – I have talked to most of the unaccepted invitations! Many had forgotten they even had a LinkedIn account and were surprised when I told them I’d invited them.
Facebook users < 400 adults
About 35% of my store mailing list has an FB account. Majority are female (4:3 ratio). Very small overlap with LinkedIn of around 10% and that primarily in the male gender. However I can identify some customers who are not on the mailing list so this gives me another way of developing a personalized contact if desired. The total user base is a bit of a extrapolation based on a combination of sampling from the telephone book, age distribution of the population, etc. (our 20-29 age group accounts for a mere 210 people). A small personal semi-random poll of 50 people turned up only 20% with FB accounts and 30% of them are rare or inactive users, NONE of the rest were intending to have one anytime soon.
twitter 10+ tweeps (out of 2300!)
Very concentrated in the 40+ demographic! c. 60% on FB, around 30% on LinkedIn, with a large overlap
Local moderated on-line forum
This has been around for quite some years and sells classifed and banner advertising on site . Has about 50 active posters. Claims 800 registered members but my sense is that more than half are inactive in that they don’t read it at all.
And by contrast the local newspaper (which also has a website) has a paid on-island circulation of 1400 copies per week. Given that most are shared within a household, this media has far more penetration than any digital network – but of course its not capable of 1:1 and interaction.
My big revelation is the number of inactive users in the two social networks. I don’t know if its endemic but when big numbers for social media get thrown around (e..g FB’s 150M) I think its time for them to publish better metrics about activity so that realistic assessments of their utility can be made, especially when compared to the wealth of data about print media. it also indicates to me that there is a big ‘fad’ factor at work where people join up under encouragement without clear ideas of how they will use it or of its utility and after they’ve made the obligatory hook-ups with family and friends its left to languish.
The surprise was the proportion of female users on FB. It poses a question, is FB skewed gender-wise? That could have big implications for how and what one communicates.
For our store, traditional media is still the best way to get mass eyeballs on our products here, seeing as we don’t use web/SEO/SEM yet. Given the internet penetration the latter is a great way to capture eyeballs in the community and far more pervasive than the social networks.
Does traditional media influence local buying more than digital? For that the jury’s out but I believe will rule in favour of digital. I use both email and printed media to promote the store. I can draw very few examples of cause and effect, except for the fact that our sales are up considerably since I started doing both in conjunction with in-store marketing. My assessment is that print advertising has raised our awareness and brought new customers into the store but its digital media that has driven specific purchases once we have captured their email address.
As for LinkedIn, FB and twitter? Twitter I will use and expect a lot more islanders to be there in due course, plus its complementary to all other social media. Facebook is the predominant social network here but its not yet reaching enough of my customer base. I don’t have time or the margins to use it for 1:1 proactive marketing – but there is potential there. I love LinkedIn but that’s for my business life, I won’t be looking at that as a marketing tool for the store. All three vehicles are valuable to me as a consultant and wannabe wine guru beyond our island confines.