Almost everyone on Canada is on the Internet
Troy Media – by Doug Lacombe
Last week I had the pleasure of working with some rural Saskatchewan credit unions on digital marketing and social media.
It occurred to me social media might not even be appropriate. Are credit union customers and prospects from these towns even on social media? This required some investigation.
Almost everyone in Canada is on the internet
Some basic facts come into play almost immediately. Almost everyone, urban and rural, has access to the Internet in Canada. Statistics Canada reported in the 2010 Canadian Internet Use Survey “In 2010, eight out of 10 Canadian households (79 per cent) had access to the Internet. Over one-half of connected households used more than one type of device to go online. About 81 per cent of households located in census metropolitan areas and 76 per cent of households located in census agglomerations had home Internet access, compared with 71 per cent of households outside of these areas.”
So over two-thirds of rural dwellers have access to the Internet. So far so good.
With Internet comes email, so we can safely assume at least email marketing has potential in rural areas. But what about social media?
A few years back I was working for a client that was interested in reaching folks in Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek B.C. I assumed people in those towns would be mainly on dial up. The client’s research told us otherwise. Approximately one-third of the populations of these two towns reported being on social media in 2010!
A few other facts help orient us to the reality of social media marketing in rural areas. First, almost half of Canadians over the age of 18 are on Facebook – 16.3 million accounts at last check. A quick check in the Facebook ad-booking wizard tells me there are 3,420 Facebook users in Fort Nelson over 18. By comparison the Fort Nelson News newspaper reports gross circulation of 2,600. By that standard, Facebook compares favorably as a potential advertising medium, although small town newspapers remain a critical part of any retail marketing mix due to their continued prominence in their communities.
Dawson Creek has 7,800 Facebook accounts whereas Friday circulation of that paper is 2,100 copies. Similarly, Biggar Saskatchewan (population 2,300) has 1,100 Facebook users, Unity has 1,240, Shaunavon has 920, Dauphin Manitoba has 6,900, Winkler has 5,060 and so on and so on. These numbers are for the towns themselves. If you include a 50-mile radius (Facebook doesn’t do metric) to approximate a trading area, the numbers go up dramatically.
Conversely, I had a very difficult time finding more than a handful of people from these towns on Twitter, which makes sense as North American Twitter penetration is generally estimated at 15 to 18 per cent. In the case of Biggar 15 per cent of 2,300 people is 345 people so that’s about the best reach you might expect. You could reach more people yelling loudly at the hockey game or curling rink.
Social media should be part of the marketing mix
Nailing YouTube use down to a particular geography is nearly impossible, but anecdotally it seems everyone with Internet and therefore email shares and uses video.
Given these data, social media is an appropriate part of the marketing mix for small town businesses. It would, however, be an add-on to newspaper advertising and other time-honored techniques. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is a bad marketing move, so Facebook and YouTube videos, with some email marketing can enrich traditional marketing but not replace it.
Doug Lacombe is a social media speaker and strategist with social media agency communicatto. Find him on Twitter at @dblacombe.