How Facebook is focusing on SMBs in 2016

SMB facebook tie logo

Part of Facebook’s strategy for increasing ad revenue includes updating and adding certain features that are especially appealing to small and medium-sized businesses.

Brands of all shapes and sizes use Facebook to connect with customers and promote their businesses. However, it’s becoming more obvious that Facebook fancies small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) over enterprise brands.

This may seem like an odd choice, as one can assume that smaller businesses have equally small budgets. But there is strength (and money) in numbers; and Facebook is well aware of the potential that small businesses possess.

Of Facebook’s $4.3 billion in ad related revenue last quarter, SMBs contributed the largest portion. Some 50 million businesses have a Facebook page, which is up from 30 million in April of 2015, but there are only 2.5 million advertisers. It’s not hard to see how focusing on SMBs over enterprise brands can add up.

Below are four recent features and updates that show how Facebook is wooing SMBs, with the ultimate goal of receiving more advertising dollars from them.

1. Call to action buttons for mobile pages

In September 2015, Facebook added bigger and bolder CTA (call to action) buttons on mobile, and placed them directly under the cover photo.

While any page – whether for a local shop or a global brand – can take advantage of these new buttons, they do appear to cater more to the needs of smaller businesses. “Call Now,” “Send Message,” and “Contact Us” buttons are especially useful for SMBs looking to make immediate connections with customers to book service appointments or drive in-store traffic.

facebook-send-message-320x320

2. Shop and Service page sections

On the same day Facebook revealed the new CTA buttons, they also announced two new sections for professional Facebook pages – Shop and Service:

  • The Shop section allows local retailers to showcase their products.
  • The Services section allows local service providers to list their offerings menu directly on Facebook.

These new sections can be found more easily in a new layout, with each section broken out into a separate tab.

Facebook New Mobile Page Layout

3. Improved customer support response times

In early December 2015, Facebook released a handful of new tools and features that help SMBs set expectations for customers looking to receive a response from the business.

Now SMBs can indicate whether the customer will receive a response “within minutes,” “within hours,” “within an hour,” or “within a day.” They can also post an away status message and create automated away messages.

4. The Professional Services feature

Professional Services, which was quietly released in mid-December of last year, may be the biggest signal that Facebook is focusing more on SMBs. Professional Services is a new section that lists local service providers and includes reviews and ratings from other users.

SMBs are ranked using a combination of top ratings and personalization; businesses that have been visited or rated by those within a user’s personal collection of Facebook friends will appear near the top, thus improving the user experience.

Facebook Professional Services

Several industry publications – including Inc. Magazine and TechCrunch – are saying this could kill SMB user review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp. In fact, Yelp’s stock dropped nine percent the dayProfessional Services was announced.

While I don’t foresee the demise of Yelp, Angie’s List, or any other local review site in 2016, I can imagine it in the future. Facebook has the user base to overcome Yelp, in addition to the authority to force users to participate.

Still, they’ll need to improve the value and credibility of Professional Services for it to become a viable Yelp competitor.

To sum up

During a conference call with Forbes last November, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg called SMBs their “most compelling” opportunity.

These advances make it clear that Facebook is not only pursuing this opportunity, but making it a main focus of their product road map and strategy for revenue growth.

Homepage image via Flickr.

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