Facebook Adds More Outreach To Its 40 Million Small Business Users

The social network has been successful in helping local retailers build their web presence. Now, the strategy depends on keeping them active.

Facebook-logo-thumbs-upBusinesses of all sizes recognize the value of having a Facebook page as a way to connect with local customers. But despite Facebook’s stepped up campaign over the past several months to help small-to-medium sized businesses to use the social network more regularly — and more effectively — many retailers still feel a bit bewildered when it comes to developing a media strategy with their Place Pages at the center.

Facebook’s small business marketing team say they’ve heard the confusion loud and clear. To help address it, the team is reprising last year’s SMB series roadshow, which was dubbed “Facebook Fit: Bootcamps,” under the rubric, “Boost Your Business.” The program includes both half-day and 2-hour pop-up events, each focused on bringing small businesses together to share best practices and hear about the latest marketing strategies and tools, Facebook says in a blog post.

Facebook Hits The Road (Again) 

Facebook will be focusing its in-person tour at locations in San Diego, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Boston. It’s also enlisted marketing companies such MailChimp, Shopify, Visa and human resources services provider Zenefits to impart their own tips to SMBs in those selected areas. In addition, Facebook is rolling out new online support, including live chat for those SMBs that advertise on the social net.

In launching this latest outreach effort, Facebook said it now has 40 million active small business pages, a rise of 10 million since last summer. That 40 million cohort also includes 2 million paid advertisers, up from 1.5 million last year, the company said.

This latest SMB initiative is occurring amid other Facebook experiments, such as its beacon-powered Place Tips test that is continuing in New York City, highlighting the myriad ways that Facebook is moving ahead of rivals like Twitter in tapping local digital marketing budgets. (Twitter meantime, has admitted that it, too, needs to do a better job of educating users and advertisers about how to best use its platform.

Facebook will carry this banner into several cities this spring to educate SMBs on how to best use their FB Pages.
Facebook will carry this banner into several cities this spring to educate SMBs on how to best use their FB Pages.

Higher SMB Education

For the most part, Facebook’s mass reach — it counts counts 936 million daily users compared to Twitter’s 302 million — and its sense of community make it easy for marketers to promote their businesses, while Twitter, with its reliance on hashtags and other shortcuts and applications, is not nearly as an intuitive — and that creates a hurdle for entities that are not involved in tech as part of their daily business.

But the bigger challenge for Facebook is outside its social media circles. Over the past few months, Google has expanded its own range of assistance to SMBs with its “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” program which has created customized websites for 30,000 American towns and cities and the SMBs within them.

As we reported earlier, each “Google Cities On The Map” site provides SMBs with a step-by-step guide to create a Google My Business listing. Local businesses can add photos, location information, and hours of operation to their business listing. The sites also offer tips on how to improve their business information so that it is better-suited to Google platforms — including its core search engine product, map, and Google+ social media network. It also gives businesses access to a diagnostic tool that shows them how their brands appear on Google Search and Google Maps. There’s even the option for businesses to nail down a website and domain name from Google partner Startlogic.

Both Facebook’s and Google’s interest in being the primary mentor to SMBs when it comes to making the most of managing their digital presence is a sign of how after years of being ignored, small business locations are the big target this year as online advertising moves beyond banner ads and clickthroughs to drive in-store sales.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.