Small and medium size businesses looking at the news-making but unproven Facebook Home would benefit from taking a broader view of the massive social network and how it could drive sales and loyalty.
According to new statistics from Facebook, only 3 percent of the small business ad spend goes online (versus 16 percent for big businesses, according to a statistic quoted by Techcrunch). That’s despite the fact that there are 2 billion connections between people and small businesses on Facebook, and their Pages get 645 million views and 13 million comments a week.
And that was before Facebook’s Home product hit select Android devices, further immersing those mobile users who choose to use it to get closer to the people and businesses that matter to them.
Beyond the funds necessary for marketing, barriers for small and medium size businesses are time, knowledge of Facebook’s offerings, and a level of difficulty in creating, monitoring, and optimizing campaigns.
Facebook launched a small business education program, in 2011, partnering with the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Now it is kicking up its efforts, going to such small towns as Dixon, Illinois to show how Facebook is as much a tool for the corner store as it is for a Fortune 500 company.
According to Facebook, small businesses in Dixon use Facebook Groups to plan and Facebook Pages to promote events in their town including Second Saturdays, a monthly event where Dixon shops feature the work of local artists in their stores.
Lisa Higby LeFevre, co-owner of Distinctive Gardens garden center, provided these tips after saying that she saw a 40 percent increase in revenue from peak season sales – promoted solely on Facebook:
Create a Facebook Group with other small businesses in your community to plan and brainstorm about events and promotions you can do together, like Second Saturdays or Sauk Valley Shop Small, another event where the small businesses in their region encourage people to shop at small businesses.
Build a Facebook Page to communicate with the community and publicize your events.
Use Facebook ads to get more people in your community to follow your Facebook Page, reach your customers and attract new ones.
This is solid advice. As to the use of Facebook Home, which in a nutshell is a takeover of the smartphone homescreen for everything Facebook, ads are not yet included in the product. But they are coming and could be another tool for the small and medium to win some battles with the bigs. Or they could be a bust. Either way, they need to be on the radar for SMBs.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program http://Goo.gl/t3fgW, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.