How Small-Business Friendly Is Facebook?
By Chris Crum
Facebook is dedicating more resources to trying to stay in the good graces of small businesses, even after it has continually made changes to its News Feed algorithm over the past year and a half, which have largely been detrimental to them.
Do you think Facebook can still be a valuable asset to small businesses despite the organic reach issue? Let us know in the comments.
According to the company, there are 40 million small businesses using Facebook, and last year, it enabled $227 billion of economic impact and 4.5 million jobs globally.
Its latest small business efforts involve a new series of educational events and live chat support for advertisers.
"Boost Your Business"First off, Facebook announced the 2015 Boost Your Business program, which is made up of a series of half-day and 2-hour pop up events, which will educate small businesses on best practices and the "latest marketing strategies and tools".
The company has partnered with famed Facebook marketing consultant Mari Smith, MailChimp, Shopify, Visa, and Zenefits to help with the events. Facebook's own director of small business Jonathan Czaja will also be in attendance.
The half-day events feature a small business panel and Q&A session moderated by Smith, a small business networking center in which attendees can speak with panelists, a "learn-how zone" with educational videos, Facebook/partner counters where attendees can speak with industry experts, two Facebook learning tracks (one on growing online sales and one on driving in-store sales), and partner sessions which attendees can choose from hosted by MailChimp, Shopify, and Visa. These events will also feature a keynote speech from Czaja.
The half-day events cost $25 per ticket, and include a $50 Facebook ad coupon on arrival.
The two-hour pop-up events include a network expo with small business organizations, the chance to meet business leaders and decision makers from the community, presentations of Facebook best practices, local small business panels, and the chance to win one of three $500 ad credit giveaways.
Facebook describes Mari Smith as "one of the worlds most influential and knowledgeable new media thought leaders and one of Facebook's top marketing experts."
She recently spoke with WebProNews about how businesses can utilize some of Facebook's newer features in what could be a semi-preview of the types of things she'll discuss at the events.
In light of the organic reach blow Facebook has dealt to Facebook pages, we asked Smith at the time if she still sees Facebook as a viable platform for marketing a small business (especially one with a low marketing budget).
She said, "Yes – I would recommend that low budget be allocated to what are called 'dark posts.' That is, ads in the News Feed that look like a Page wall post, but don't actually appear on the Page. With very granular targeting to reach the exact target market, small businesses can do exceptionally well using Facebook. In addition, making use of custom audiences is a must. This is where a business can upload its own email database, or segments thereof, and place ads in the News Feed to that target group. Plus, using website custom audiences helps a business to retarget its website visitors with Facebook ads."
"Facebook recently introduced a new ad feature called 'Conversion Lift Measurement' to help advertisers track better ROI, especially offline sales," she added. "Although the new metric is only available to select large advertisers, this is great news for small businesses when the feature eventually becomes available."
More on Conversion Lift Management here.
"In addition, we'll soon see the rollout of Facebook's 'Atlas' advertising product that allows retargeting and tracking via mobile devices," Smith said. "Retargeting typically works via cookies; however, cookies don't work on mobile. The way Atlas works, is advertisers can then place ads to remarket to visitors whether they view on desktop, mobile or tablet. In other words, reaching the exact audience no matter what device they're on."
"Page owners may wish to try out the new organic Interest Targeting feature to see if that helps create a greater reach," she continued. "Prior to publishing a piece of content, admins can pre-select subsets of their fanbase. Another recent change is the ability to create a Post End Date – this stops a post from showing in News Feed at the specific time/date that you wish. Handy for, as Facebook states, 'a publisher can use this to remove yesterday's weather report from News Feed.'"
We talked more about these features in an article here.
Either way, Facebook is clearly dedicated to trying to win over the minds of distraught small businesses. How do you think it's doing? Discuss.
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