After a few false starts Facebook is once again tackling local — right now on the SMB side. Its earlier “Promoted Posts” unit was a simple way for SMBs to turn their existing posts into ads with little effort.
Now the company has developed a way for SMBs to get more Page Likes with similarly limited effort. Within the Page admin console business owners can effectively now simply set a budget and drive the desired number of new fans to their Pages.
The simplified ad, which gets exposure on both the PC and mobile devices, including in the newsfeed, is available to Page owners with fewer than 10,000 fans and who have a city location in their About details.
Everything about the ad is pre-populated. The budget pull-down enables business owners to spend more money and get more Likes accordingly. The numbers of expected fans at each spend level is a very accurate estimate according to Matt Idema, who works on SMB initiatives at Facebook. He used to be VP of Yahoo Local.
Facebook now has two dead-simple ad units specifically for SMBs. These two units are very complementary: one drives more followers and the other (Promoted Posts) offers substantive messages or promotions to a broader audience.
Between 60% and 70% of US SMBs surveyed claim to have a presence on Facebook. However comparatively few of them are very active. Of the 12.8 million SMBs with Pages on Facebook (globally) roughly 3.5 million post weekly according to the company — or about 28%. Most third party social media management programs offer a monthly post on behalf of a business owner.
Facebook has an almost unique opportunity to realize that highly elusive objective of digital publishers: getting SMB advertisers to self serve. The combination of Facebook’s visibility, brand strength and newly simplified tools may turn into a big success story for them in local in 2013.
If they combine that with better site search it starts to become much more interesting as a local marketing platform.