Facebook is no stranger to marketing small businesses. Since the social media giant launched in 2004, it has made leaps and bounds to become the number one social media platform in the world. Most recent estimates put its users at 1.3 billion people.
Recognizing Facebook’s potential for getting brands in front of web users, countless businesses have flocked to the site. Subsequently, Facebook is estimated to earn $2 billion per quarter. It isn’t just huge, well-known companies taking advantage of the platform’s marketing effectiveness. There are now 25 million small business pages on Facebook. If recent events have proven anything, it’s that the SMB market is just as important to Facebook as Facebook is to the SMB market.
A Meeting of the Minds
The Small and Medium Business Council, made up of 12 small businesses and 18 owners, met with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s development team at the latter’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California last week. The group, representing business owners from the plumbing industry, food industry, and others, was invited to Facebook’s inner sanctum to discuss how the social media behemoth can improve its marketing capabilities for the SMB community. Keep in mind, this comes after many SMB owners reported ROI ratios of 23:1 when marketing with Facebook.
The folks at Facebook want to put a face behind the businesses using their website, hoping to use that to sharpen the perception and success of SMB marketers, while improving their advocacy for these small and medium sized businesses. The meeting with representatives of the SMB community comes after multiple moves by the tech giant to improve the way SMBs market on the social platform. July 2013 saw the launch of “Facebook for Businesses” almost immediately following the implementation of the business object type — the latter pushed businesses to include all of their relevant business information in a bid to boost their SEO potential.
The Cat is out of Facebook’s Bag
While the reconnaissance meeting with the Small and Medium Business Council was Facebook’s first big move to improve SMB services in 2014, recent revelations of a not-so-secret marketing platform are proving that they’re just getting started. After a source inside the company leaked word of “Business Manager,” a tool allowing companies to manage multiple marketing campaigns and pages through one outlet, Facebook confirmed the existence of the new functionality with TechCrunch.
Whether or not Business Manager is meant to stay in a purely prototype form or whether it’s going to be released — a move that would put Facebook in open competition with their Preferred Marketing Developers — remains to be seen. However, at least from our perspective, it seems more than likely that Business Manager will go gold in the near future. The reason is simple enough: SMB usability.
For the longest time, Facebook has relied on the services of third-party developers to give its business users specialized functionality. Take Woobox, for example: Facebook offers no native support for marketing Twitter, Tumblr, or other social media accounts through their Facebook pages — why give the competition a hand, right? With “Business Manager” the thought is that Facebook could add the functionality that PMDs have specialized in for so long, effectively monopolizing the site and cutting third-party devs out completely. That’s bad for the devs, but undoubtedly good for SMB owners who lack the time and resources to screw around with too many tools.
All of this is, of course, purely academic at this point. We have no way of knowing what Business Manager will look like when — if — it goes gold. One thing is certain, however: Facebook is looking to expand its dominance by focusing on the SMB market.