Following the lead of many national marketers, some Boston area small business owners are considering canceling or, at minimum, pausing their advertising schedules with social media network Facebook and its co-owned photo-sharing platform, Instagram.
According to the New York Times, "more than 400 companies, from Coca-Cola and Adidas to Ford and Lego, have vowed to halt advertising on the social network, in a growing protest over how it handles hate speech and other harmful content".
With the pandemic figured in, Boston small business owners were expected to spend $352 million on Facebook and Instagram advertising in 2020. This is according to Borrell Associates, a firm that specializes in the collection and analysis of local marketing expenditures in every city across the United States. But these expenditures could shrink if the protests become louder.
Every type of Boston business imaginable, including clothing stores, plumbers, HVAC repair, funeral homes, restaurants, dentists, and nonprofits, has come to realize how powerfully social media can contribute to their bottom lines.
Part of what makes Facebook and Instagram attractive to small business owners is the enormous reach these platforms have among consumers. Locally, the audience size for these two social media sites now rival Boston radio, TV, cable, and newspaper outlets.
For small business owners considering a hiatus from social media advertising, there is a viable way to redirect these dollars into a different medium without losing the marketing equity or momentum built-up on Facebook.
Every week, according to Nielsen, 89% of all local Facebook and Instagram users also tune-in to Boston radio stations. So, without advertising on social media, business owners can continue to reinforce their social messaging throughout Eastern Massachusetts.
Of all traditional media, Boston radio is best suited for duplicating the audience reached by Facebook and Instagram.
In addition to reach, advertising on Boston radio can also deliver a potent social component similar to Facebook and Instagram. It's known as endorsement advertising. This is when a DJ personally shares the benefits of using an advertiser's product or service. These types of commercials are often delivered live during a radio personality's show.
In a 2019 study by Katz Media Group, 81% of radio listeners said they consider their favorite on-air personalities to be a friend, family member or acquaintance. In many ways, this is is similar to a Facebook follower.
Another study by Critical/MARU finds that 46% of radio listeners say they trust radio personalities and consider them opinion leaders.
Finally, a study by the USC, Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism found that 49% of radio listeners say that a DJ recommendation increases the perceived value of brands, products, and services. So much so, that 50% of radio audiences say that personality endorsements are more likely to incite them to take action than with other advertising approaches.
Facebook and Instagram can be an engaging and compelling component of a marketing plan. But, if a small business owner believes that it must step-back until these platforms provide a more palatable advertising environment, then there are strong local alternatives including Boston radio.
Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, points out that many radio stations are providing the opportunity to buy social media and other forms of online advertising as part of an integrated marketing package.
"Radio is definitely embracing digital as an opportunity to serve customers better, more so than in previous years,” says Mr. Borrell. He adds that stations are demonstrating “a level of marketing expertise to their customers that makes the digital buy ‘safe’ and certainly stronger when combined with radio spots.”
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