From the first community telephone strung together with barbed-wire telephone lines, rural users have always had a history of using technology in a slightly different way than their distant urban neighbors. Some of this usage and innovation was built out of necessity (Bell telephone originally refused to install lines in rural areas so residents were creative) and part out of personal preference. It should be of no surprise that rural internet users approach social media differently than urban users.
Recently published research from the Pew Research Center shines light on these behaviors and as a rural business owner, you need to take notice.
A different social circle
Rural social media users are connected to fewer people than urban users (about 104 friends vs. 150 friends). While rural users may have fewer online ties than their urban counterparts, rural social media user’s online friendships are seen as more influential and trustworthy. This is mostly because rural Facebook users’ friendships have been formed offline through personalized interaction and then migrated online. Rural users also have friends that are located nearby in the same or closely surrounding towns when compared to urban users.
The result? Rural Facebook users are a peer-to-peer network of highly trusted and influential individuals that can positively impact your business
Why should you care?
Research indicates rural users don’t have a high degree of trust for people and businesses with whom they don’t already have an established personal connection. The best way to increase your Facebook marketing base is by getting the people in your store to like your page. Once they like your page, it is essential to incentivise these customers to share with their small but highly-persuasive circle of influence.
Although your posts might not receive as many views, comments, or shares as similar businesses in urban areas, your customer’s shares will be more important and valuable to the profit of your business. Since these customers are also friends with their neighbors, family, and people they daily interact with, their Facebook posts have a greater chance at becoming WOM marketing not only on Facebook but also in personal day-to-day interactions. Get them involved, get them incentivized to share.