Yesterday, I was listening to music when I thought, why not stalk people on Facebook. Isn’t that something we do intuitively? Well I admit, I love doing that. Our generation is such that when we are idle, most of us love to fiddle with our mobile phones- a gadget that connects us with the endless possibilities of the internet world
(well, I am referring to smartphones here)! We aren’t ‘’jobless’’ anymore because the internet keeps us engaged somehow. So I randomly started liking some pages on Facebook that popped up in my suggestions. Lakme, Lata Mangeshkar, Times Now, NDTV, Roposo, Dunkin. And I kept liking those pages until something disrupted my flow and I stopped.
It was Keventers Fast food joint! Located in Satya Niketan, New Delhi, it is a small joint and it had its own Facebook page! If you ever come to South Campus, where I reside, you will notice this small fast food joint at the corner of a road. This impelled me to see how updated they were and bingo… the 300-400 sq. feet restaurant was doing great on Facebook. I wondered how these SMBs were making money on Facebook? I pondered a little over it and then thought of doing some research. The interesting insights I found during my research are what I want to share with you.
A report by Social Media Examiner on ‘’Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015’’ states that while 93% of marketers are using Facebook, 68% want to learn more about it and 62% plan on increasing Facebook activities. Most marketers either don’t know if their marketing strategy on Facebook is right, especially the SMB’s. More than half of marketers (52%) look up to Facebook as their most important platform, followed by LinkedIn (21%), Twitter (12%) and then YouTube (4%). These statistics clearly reveal that Facebook is still the primary platform for marketers.
However, Facebook is accused of not being favorable to small and mid-sized businesses. In 2012, Facebook announced that small business pages organically reached only 16% of their audience which frustrated the small businesses. In January of 2013, Facebook announced that 500,000 Pages had used Promoted Posts, but compared to their total global small-business audience, this was still pretty small penetration. Facebook recently announced that it would further reduce the reach of posts from businesses to their fans that it deems “overly promotional”. Further, as Facebook’s former Global Head of SMB Marketing Chris Luo explains in his March 2015 Fast Company article, “Facebook has also introduced new, more sophisticated, advertising tools to directly target any user on Facebook in their newsfeed, but for the most part, these tools are used by savvy direct marketers at mid-sized or larger companies and not small businesses.”
This research raised many questions in my head. I see all my friends making pages on Facebook to promote their businesses. Of course there isn’t any money involved in this, all you need is a strong social network which can help you get likes on your posts and increase your reach. But that’s at an entry-level. So what should these SMBs do to increase their business? Today SMBs look forward to featuring on social media platforms, with Facebook on top most priority. Hence, to embrace these SMBs Facebook has devised some strategies-
- With initiatives like ‘Facebook At Work’ and ‘Facebook For Business’, Facebook has tried to bridge the gap between SMBs and itself with the launch of new initiatives.
- To connect with the 40-million active small businesses pages on Facebook, the company has launched two new initiatives- ‘2015 Boost Your Business program’ and ‘Online Chat Support’ with advertising specialists on Facebook in order to bring small businesses together. Both will be rolled out in the US market first and will come to India later this year.
- In February, Facebook reached the two-million advertiser mark globally. Over 80% of new advertisers on Facebook start with entry-level tools like a promoted post or a page like.
- Facebook offers a simple solution for SMBs to establish a presence on smartphones—by creating a Facebook page and advertising on Facebook, they automatically have “a mobile marketing presence” and “a mobile advertising strategy”.
- Earlier this year, Facebook launched Ads Manager app (to manage current or new ad campaigns), SMB (small and medium businesses) creative resources to improve the quality of ads, and educational resources such as Blueprint and ‘Learn How’ for small business marketers on Facebook.
- Facebook For Business helps the small and large companies answer their doubts and queries about their business plans. The Facebook SMB Agency Program helps Small and Mid-size Businesses to grow by understanding the market needs, and their vital role in the business.
Some marketing experts speculate that small businesses are still testing Facebook and are therefore not willing to commit more money to the channel. The 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report showed that 53% of marketers planned to increase their use of Facebook ads in 2015. CMO Survey expects social media marketing budgets to more than double from 9.1% of the overall marketing budget now to 21% in 2019. It is only the beginning of the social media era and waters are only being tested now. But what will define the success of Facebook in coming years is how well SMBs are able to utilize the platform in reaching its customers. With more SMBs looking to build their social presence, products like Solomofy aids them do that in a restrained budget as well.
With constant innovations in its business models, Facebook is trying to bring together SMBs and large companies under one roof, acting as a platform that offers end-to-end solutions to all of them. But the question remains that will it be able to assimilate all of them in its own business expansion model? That’s something to look out for!