At Facebook, former Googler Sheryl Sandberg is aiming to reach out to small businesses. Her plan for Facebook includes giving small business owners an advertising credit to try out Facebook advertising.
Sanberg’s Ambitious Plans
In a USA Today interview, Sandberg called her dream “simple”: “I think every small business should […] be using Facebook,” she said. “We’re not going to stop until all of them are using it to grow their business.”
To get to that point, Facebook will be giving out $10 million in advertising credits ($50 each to up to 200,000 small businesses). For details, see update at bottom of post.
Sandberg feels that the $50 credit will be enough for most businesses to get a strong sense of the Facebook advertising’s potential. For $50, she says, “most small businesses can target every single person they need to target at least once, and then they can grow their business from there.”
Most small businesses recognize Facebook as a tool for promoting their business, with Sandberg estimating that nearly a third of all U.S. businesses have a Facebook presence. However, most of those businesses stick to Facebook’s free features, and most notably the creation of a Facebook page. When it comes to paid advertisements, the figure shrinks from an estimated 9 million businesses to “hundreds of thousands,” according to Sandberg.
But for Sandberg, the social ads aren’t just another PPC program. “Facebook takes word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale,” she said, emphasizing the potential viral component of advertising with the world’s largest social network.
If 200,000 more businesses can be convinced to spend, it would mean a significant boost to Facebook’s advertising economy. Beyond the benefit of additional advertisers, Facebook would see increased revenue per advertiser; since the ads are run on a bidding system, more advertisers and more active advertisements increase the overall cost of a given click.
Facebook is also pushing for attention from small businesses in other sectors. Facebook recently partnered with American Express OPEN (the company’s small business division) to give cardholders Facebook advertising credits as a potential points reward. American Express gave an extra back-scratch by giving those cardholders double points when they spent money on online advertisements, including those on Facebook.
UPDATE SEPT. 26: Today, Facebook, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed a bit more on the details in the official announcement. Starting in January 2012, the alliance will provide webinars, case studies, marketing collateral, tips, and a series of roadshows around the country, giving Facebook the opportunity to meet with local businesses about Facebook advertising.