Social Media Use By Local Advertisers Soars

Between 2011 and 2016, local advertiser use of social media sites has grown from 57% to 85%, according to a new report from Borrell Associates. Facebook is the leading platform. As a lead-generator, social media is more popular than all other forms of advertising.

Over the past five years, social media has gained a strong foothold among local advertisers, according to a new survey from Borrell Associates.

“Social Media’s Impact on Local Advertisers” shows, among other things:

  • 85% of local advertisers have a social media presence and of those 96% have Facebook pages, followed by Twitter (51%), LinkedIn (41%), Google+ (36%), YouTube (36%), Instagram (34%), Pinterest (20%) and Tumblr (3%).
  • 62% are buying Facebook ads and boosted posts.
  • 76% manage their own social media activities.
  • Facebook is sapping 4% of newspapers’ print ad revenue.
  • As a lead-generator, social media is more popular than all other forms of advertising.

The report is derived mainly from a survey of 3,293 local advertisers who believe their social media efforts are paying off in new customers.

The percentage of advertisers selecting social media as a leading source of new customers has more than doubled in five years, from 21% in 2011 to 44% in 2016, while the percentage of advertisers who believe that their company’s website is a significant source of new customers has slipped.

In that same period, the survey found, events, newspaper ads, yellow pages and direct mail have declined, while social media looks to be replacing them as a primary marketing mechanism for lead-generation.

What are the characteristics of what Borrell calls “social media mavens?”


  • Businesses that engage heavily in social media activity tend to be smaller, older, independent companies with less than $1 million in gross sales.
  • They’re more likely to have a single location or be home-based than have multiple locations, and slightly more likely to cater to consumers (B2C) versus only businesses (B2B).

And the growth of social media also includes political advertising, the survey says. It estimates that political candidates, parties, and interest groups spent $1.4 billion in digital advertising this year.

Of that, $573 million (40.5%) was spent on social sites. Facebook received $390 million (68%); the rest went to Google, Instagram, and Twitter.

Facebook’s take represents 27% of all digital-political advertising and 4% of all political advertising.

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