Earlier this week Facebook announced a number of new tools and features for small businesses (SMBs). The company is launching automated ads, online appointments, new video editing tools and more SMB training courses. It also said there are more than 90 million small businesses on Facebook.
Automated ads. With automated ads the system will create up to six different versions of an ad that can run across Facebook’s various properties: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and the Facebook Audience Network. As with other Facebook ad units, SMB advertisers will be asked to choose an ad objective and answer several questions. Facebook will make creative, audience targeting and budget recommendations using data from the business Facebook Page.
Facebook will then do all ad optimization and also make suggestions for creative changes to improve performance.
Appointments. Appointment booking is free. “It allows business owners to accept and manage appointments, customer information and send reminders, all from their phone,” according to the company. Appointments can be made on Facebook, Instagram and through Messenger and reminders can be send through Messenger and via text. Expect all this to eventually come to WhatsApp as well.
SMB training. Facebook has also stepped up its online and offline education for local businesses. The company says that it’s “hosting over 200 small business training events this year globally.” Blueprint is a self-paced online video program where marketers can learn Facebook best practices on demand. The company said in June, 2018 that “more than 160,000 US small businesses have been trained using Blueprint, and by 2020 we plan to train an additional 250,000.”
90 million SMBs. Finally the company said that it has more than 90 million SMBs with an active presence on Facebook. The last public number in 2018 was 80 million (in 2015 it was 45 million). So we can assume that it will cross the 100 million threshold sometime in 2020. (Facebook doesn’t provide the geographic distribution.) The more Facebook enables engagement with the company’s free tools for SMBs the more likely it is to convert them into paying advertisers.
And earlier this year Facebook reported that it now has 7 million active advertisers globally (up from 6 million last year). A substantial percentage are SMBs. Think about the financial impact if Facebook converts even a small fraction of the non-advertiser portion of its SMB audience.
Next month, LSA’s Engage conference (6/3 – 4 in Washington, D.C.) will deep dive into the SMB CX and how SaaS and local marketing companies can do a more effective job of prospecting and selling to SMBs.