Facebook’s Yvette Lui: Local Businesses are Social by Design


Facebook’s director of North America sales Yvette Lui spoke at the close of Search Starts Here. After spending six years at Google before moving to Facebook, Lui experienced first-hand the shift to a social web. Her goal at Facebook? To make sure every small business in the U.S. is successful using their platform.

As Lui explained, consumers initially came online with a particular topic or place in mind – an essentially static and anonymous online experience. Then search came along and that helped us find new businesses, among other things. Next we used the web to compare before we got to the social stage we’re in today, which is largely about the advice and opinions of our personal network.. This last stage – the social web – is profoundly different than any of the others in that it’s 100% personal. Rather than coming online with a topic in mind, Liu says we “come to listen and learn” from the people and businesses we care about.

She shared with us three key insights she learned at Facebook: 1) local businesses are already social by design, 2) online took the social out of local, and 3) now local can be social online and off. Operating within this framework, she had the following advice for small business owners:

  • Create an authentic identity to foster relationships
  • Advertise to build a community
  • Bring people to your business with social ideas
  • Make the point of sale and in-store experience social
  • Run sponsored stories to amplify the word of mouth and help new people discover your business.

For Facebook in particular, this last piece – amplified word of mouth – has the potential to reach a large audience and quickly. With the average user having 130 friends on the social networking site, connecting with one loyal customer can mean potentially tapping into 130 more people that know and trust their friends “likes,” “check-ins,” or comments. By incentivizing customers to check-into your store and share their opinions/experience with their friends, the ROI potential from this investment in engagement is huge.

Some other facts I found interesting from the Q&A portion of her talk:

  • Facebook has a small dedicated team thinking about how they can reach small business at a greater scale
  • Each business may measure the ROI of Facebook differently, but Lui considers the number of people they interact and connect with (the interaction rate) where the real ROI is
  • Even if click-throughs aren’t particularly high, Facebook ads can significantly increase brand recognition and boost search results for a small business.

Great information for our attendees and savvy advise for their clients.

See our backstage interview with Yvette Lui.

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