Facebook Global Director of Small Business Dan Levy announced last November that the social network had more than 25 million active small business pages, and the latest initiative aimed at strengthening the company’s bond with that explosive market segment took flight last week, when the newly formed Small and Medium Business Council met at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
Advertising Communications Manager Elisabeth Diana spoke with AllFacebook about the Small and Medium Business Council, saying that it was comprised of 12 small businesses, and 18 owners in total (multiple owners represented some of the businesses), and they were selected by the social network with an eye toward compiling a cross-section from different industries, business objectives, and regions of the U.S.
Indeed, businesses represented in the group included a plumbing service, a burger joint, an ecommerce-based provider of educational tools for kids, a gardening outfit, a local theater, and a consignment store.
Diana said the primary goal of the Small and Medium Business Council was to put more of a face behind Facebook, building a small business community, boosting advocacy, and the secondary goal was to collect feedback on how the social network can improve the experience for business owners.
The day at Menlo Park included sessions with Facebook’s small business team, product marketing team, support team, and representatives from Instagram as well as a working session on how small business owners can organically reach out in their communities and help their peers establish themselves on the social network.
So, what’s next? In the near-term, Facebook will send a survey to council participants in order to find out what resonated with them most, and the company will follow that up with monthly check-ins with the council and ongoing support.
Diana said Facebook plans a rotating council, meaning that it will likely appoint a new slate of business owners after one year’s time.
One of the members of Facebook’s Small and Medium Business Council is Kay Martinovic, owner of a consignment store in Ormond Beach, Fla., Kay’s Designer Consignment, who told Fortune last month that she paid $ 40 to boost a post, targeting women in nearby, affluent communities, and four women who had seen the post spent about $ 700 in her store by lunchtime that day.
Martinovic told Fortune she earns $ 23 for every $ 1 she spends on Facebook advertising, adding that sales at her store have gone up 30 percent since she incorporated the social network into her marketing plan, especially on the mail-order side, and saying:
After 12 years in business, what Facebook has allowed me to do is reach people wherever I want. People are now contacting us from everywhere.
Levy announced last April that more than 2 billion connections existed on Facebook between users and local businesses, and approximately 70 percent of monthly active users in the U.S. and Canada were connected to local businesses, adding that local businesses’ Facebook pages were averaging 645 million views and 13 million comments per week. Since then, steps the social network has taken to embrace the small business community include:
- Launching the business object type in Open Graph last June, with the goal of getting businesses to include information on their pages such as URL, type of business, name of business, latitude, longitude, street address, locality, country, postal code, region, email, phone number, fax number, and days and hours of operation.
- The July 2013 launch of the Facebook for Business page, which includes content aimed at small businesses.
- Adding an easier way for businesses to add categories to their pages.
- Marking Small Business Saturday last November with a list of five tips for incorporating the social network into efforts on that day.
- Teaming up with Netgear to provide Wi-Fi to small businesses, available free-of-charge to users of the social network who check in at those businesses’ Facebook pages.
Small and midsized businesses on Facebook: What would you like to see the Small and Medium Business Council address at future gatherings?
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