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‘Search Starts Here’: Facebook Talks Small Business Social Marketing

In our closing session for this year’s conference, Dan Levy, director of small business at Facebook, sat down with Greg Sterling.

Dan talked about the importance of local search at Facebook, saying there are 15 million small businesses who have pages on Facebook.  Users are responding.  There are 645 million page views in U.S. of local pages in the average week, and 70 percent of users in North America are connected to at least one local business.

Dan counseled small businesses to use the free product, Facebook Pages, to create a presence and begin interacting with customers.

For those businesses that want to go beyond Pages, Dan said there are two main options.  “We’ve built a number of ad products that work from the biggest brands in the world to the local small businesses.”

The first is a way of targeting and reaching customers that you aren’t connected with, with targeting based on the geography, age, demographics, male/female, kids, interests.  The second is a sponsored story by taking the things your customers are already saying or already doing and promoting it.

Dan said tools like Facebook Offers, Facebook Nearby, Graph Search, and Facebook Home on Android will continue to help small businesses engage with customers.  And he said that Facebook isn’t really a new approach to marketing – it’s rooted simply in how businesses and customers have interacted for years.

“We hear small businesses say ‘We are trying to grow our business … we are trying to find new customers.’  We know that businesses, since the beginning of time, have relied on word of mouth to drive sales.  That’s what we’re trying to do – provide them with a word of mouth megaphone.”

“The first thing I’d be doing is talking to your small businesses about what actually has always worked in their business.  A lot of people think about social media as a new property.  We don’t think about it that way at all.  Ask them what’s worked in the past.  If it’s coupons, maybe you should do Offers.  At a minimum, set up a Page.”

In terms of measurement, Dan said that businesses need to think beyond clicks and that measurement doesn’t have to be complicated.

“We sometimes forget the simple things you can do.  Just ask customers when they come in ‘how did you hear about us?’  That can be more useful sometimes than doing a big study.”

Greg asked Dan about Facebook’s interest in potential partnerships, and Dan indicated the field was open to find an approach.

“We have not worked very well historically with partners.  Almost all the Pages have been dome by small businesses themselves or perhaps a small agency.  We think that’s a big opportunity … So to the extent that there’s partners that have reach, relevance, and have relationships with the small businesses, we’d love to work with them.”

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