A study from Roost finds that only 15% of fans on the average small business Facebook Page are actually local to the town where that business is located. If that's accurate, that's not great for brick and mortars.
It does say a lot about the potential of e-commerce, however. If a person likes your brand enough to "like" it on Facebook and subject his or herself to continuous updates from that brand, there's probably a good chance that they may be interested in buying what that brand has to sell sooner or later. That's going to be much easier to do online than in a physical store, if they live outside of the area.
Roost itself is pushing a "Social Media Scorecard" (an example of which can in part be seen above).
"These initial findings are a real eye-opener in the world of SMB social marketing, but Roost is excited to see that the Scorecards are going to help small businesses hone their efforts and better reach local customers," said Roost CEO Alex Chang. "With small business' livelihood at stake when it comes to attracting local customers, we designed the Scorecard not only to evaluate a businesses' local presence, but also to provide recommendations on how to improve their social marketing efforts in the local market."
As Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Blog points out, the findings indicate that most small business Facebook pages aren't going to do a whole lot of good for targeted marketing.
This may actually make the case for increased Facebook advertising, if the Facebook audience is who you're trying to reach. Or more specifically, the local Facebook audience. Facebook ads have very specific targeting points.
MerchantCircle recently released survey results finding that 22% of local merchants have used Facebook ads, and that two thirds of them would use them again. Still, of the 35% of merchants who said they wouldn't advertise with Facebook again, 69% said the ads didn't help them acquire new customers. 35% said they were too expensive.
It will be interesting to see if Google's Google+ brand profiles reflect similar findings as Roost's regarding the Facebook Pages. Google of course has Place Pages, which can be an invaluable spot for small business visibility. How Google integrates Place Pages with Google+ brand profiles remains to be seen.