Facebook: No SMB Resellers (for Now)

Facebook logoStreetFight published an interview with Facebook’s Dan Levy who oversees SMB programs. The thrust of the interview focuses on the declining organic reach of Pages.  It has been controversial and some see a conspiracy to generate more ad revenue for the company. 

What was more interesting to me, however, was the part of the interview in which Levy is asked about Facebook and its attitude toward SMB resellers. Here’s the excerpt:

SF: Last year, it appeared as though the company was committing to a reseller approach. Is that still the case?

Levy: We’ve talked to just about every major distribution partner that works with small businesses across the world. And they’re all interesting because they reach a lot of small businesses and they provide something that’s really important, which is kind of the human connection with those businesses.

However, historically, we’ve not found it hugely valuable yet, simply because we have such a challenge in front of us already with 25 million active, engaged small business pages and only a million advertisers. We already have the touch point with the business, and for us it’s about trying to continue to prove the value to get them to engage more deeply and become advertisers, whereas I think a lot of the value of the channel is actually kind of getting out to reach those businesses. That is a fortunate problem that we don’t have right now.

Facebook believes that on its own it can convert some percentage of its massive “installed base” of SMBs into advertisers. That may be true but it’s going to be considerably more challenging that the company currently believes.

Advertise on Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg himself probably has some — though perhaps limited — understanding of the needs and attitudes of small business owners. (His dad was reportedly a dentist.) However COO Sheryl Sandberg is pretty familiar with the challenges of converting SMB advertisers, having been one of the early movers and shakers behind Google AdWords.

What’s clear is that Google was never able to successfully figure out a way to make self-service truly accessible to mainstream SMBs. The company cultivated and later reinvented its extensive (if troubled) network of resellers. Most of the resellers themselves are ambivalent at best about their relationships with Google.

I had a conversation the other day with one of its prominent resellers who was interested in migrating away from clicks/leads sourced on Google because of their cost and the fact that they provide thin margins.

But back to Facebook. For self-service advertising to succeed, Facebook would have to do a number of things:

  • Establish an ongoing dialog with small business owners (advisory council, regular focus groups)
  • Provide much more education (online, in person) for SMBs about how to succeed
  • Simplify advertising on the site even further (much more than Facebook realizes)
  • Offer a directory of approved providers who can “do it for me” if the SMB can’t or doesn’t want to
  • Offer live customer support

If it can do all these things and do them well then it has a fighting chance to bring some of those 20+ million SMBs over into the advertiser ranks. I suspect however that Facebook will do some of the things above and ultimately conclude that it needs resellers to touch the millions of SMBs it wants to advertise on the site — even though they may already have Pages.

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2 Responses to “Facebook: No SMB Resellers (for Now)”

  1. Can Facebook Crack the SMB Nut? Can Google? | TOP SEO WEBSITES DESIGN says at

    […] did an interesting article on Facebook’s move into the SMB market. Whether their decision to forgo resellers is the correct one, time will tell. […]

  2. Dave says at

    Greg:  On this website alone there has been significant commentary about problems with at least some of the google resellers.  I should know.  I’m one of the commentators with a serious problem with a couple of google reseller partners to smbs.  

    Some of them, and I’m sure you know who they are have elicited a lot of complaints.  The complaints have continued for years.  Its not a pretty business in a lot of ways.  In fact in the last year, based on an smb comment here, one of those resellers was dramatically jerking an smb client around on several levels.  And the last I heard from that smb the reseller was doing everything it could to avoid taking responsibility.

    I’m sure there are cleaner “resellers” than some….but some are brutally ugly…and simply sell on a basis of a lot of hot air to suck up the clients’ money.

    Hey…its why they have such astonishing churn.  Some of them don’t deliver value.  They deliver a lot of marketing guff.

    But some of those are also the high flying sales machines!!!!  

    In one example I saw one of those vaunted “resellers” give a proposal to an smb for adwords, for getting placement in G Maps and for organic work.  They charged several thousand/month

    They did ZERO on maps.  ZERO.  That means NOTHING.  They optimized for the least viewable keyword phrases possible.  And they resold g adwords at a rate of about 2.3 times the rate of the ads.

    Needless to say the smb terminated the relationship.  By the way, during the multi month contract running for a number of months…there were NO SALES.  

    They did have a slick sales pitch though!!!

    From an smb perspective, running an FB campaign is easier to set up and do than running an extensive adwords campaign.  Most smb operators/owners are experts in their businesses but know little about Google rankings or its many facets.  

    FB is infinitely easier to understand.   

    As with many of the smbs that saw their FB engagement with fans shrink recently it surprised our smbs.  Coincidentally two of them ran FB advertising campaigns in these periods and we became alarmed at the charges that FB campaigns might purposefully destroy engagement.

    We don’t know.

    But what we have seen over the last several years is that Google has made ours and competitors’ and other businesses have a tougher time getting organic or free or maps visibility.  Its continuous and it just gets ever tougher.

    We also advertise with google adwords.  Funny but they make that “ever more attractive”.   Funny isn’t it?

    Visibility is a real conundrum.   The Google’s and the FB’s create tremendous opportunities for visibility…but it doesn’t do them any good to give it away for free.

    On the other hand it works beautifully for them when they can charge for it.

    Google, FB, and others like them keep approaching an adversarial role with smb’s that need that visibility…but can’t spend every waking hour and every dollar on these web giants.

    The big giant web businesses need to establish better working relationships with smbs.  The smbs have and spend multi billions in advertising.  The relationships need to better and more honest.

    Meanwhile adding fluff “resellers” some of whom sell a lot of hot air with no value don’t add anything to the mix.

    :D  my $0.02 for the day.   ;)

  3. Joy Hawkins says at

    I find Facebook’s lack of phone support to be extremely frustrating. They are lightyears behind Google in this aspect. Their help forums are also a joke and are filled with tons of posts that go unresponded to. I have posted so many in the past and not a single one was answered by any sort of expert or Facebook employee. Instead it was a lot of “hey I have that problem too” replies.  

    The default ad settings on Facebook, similar to AdWords are also not the optimal ones for ROI so I think SMBs experience the same frustration they would get when they open up an AdWords account, put all their keywords on broad match (since it’s the default) and keep the Display Network on and then wonder why their account doesn’t perform. 

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