40 Million SMBs and Counting: Facebook Makes New Push for Self-Service

Facebook SMB

Both Google and Facebook are making a big push into SMB education and self-service. Facebook announced yesterday another set of local seminars and events to help educate SMBs about the why and the how of the site and its ad products.

There are two types events: “Boost your Business” half day events and two-hour SMB networking events. The company also introduced online chat support for SMBs. All of these are intended to educate and help eliminate friction for SMBs moving from organic users to paid advertisers.

It’s also an effort to avoid (for the time being) developing a formal reseller channel, although there are plenty of third parties offering social marketing services to local businesses.

In announcing these new initiatives, built on the company’s successful “Facebook Fit” live events in 2014, Facebook also announced that 40 million SMBs globally had active Facebook pages. That number was a 10 million SMB increase from a year ago.

This is a staggering number. Staggering.

Facebook disclosed in February that it had “two million active advertisers.” The majority of these — though the precise percentage isn’t known — are SMBs. Accordingly the company has penetrated less than 5% of its potential installed base of SMB marketers worldwide.

Among the SMB attendees at LSA’s first Digital Bootcamp for SMBs, social media (read: Facebook) was the most commonly used form of digital marketing. It was also perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be the most effective.

Having said that most SMBs still don’t really understand the relative roles of Facebook ads and Pages in the wake of declining organic reach. Most also don’t understand the importance of ratings/reviews on Facebook Pages.

Facebook is in an enviable position of having a massive, global base of users that it can tap as it tries to generate more advertising revenue. It’s clearly a multi-billion dollar opportunity. Yet the idea that Facebook can simply upsell SMBs and move them over into the advertiser column is not a foregone conclusion.

The company still has its work cut out for it. It will also need to enlist the aid of third parties to truly educate and support this global audience of small businesses.

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