Facebook's SMB Strategy: Dan Levy Explains

For some I.T. entrepreneurs, conventional wisdom says LinkedIn is for business and Facebook is for personal use. Dan Levy, Facebook's director of Small Business, certainly begs to differ.

During the Intuit QuickBooks Connect conference this week, Levy describe how Facebook is building more tools for small business into its platform. And even if you don't adopt Facebook's official tools, Levy says SMB customers are thriving with organic efforts -- like video promotions, many of which were first designed for YouTube or TV, but are now surfacing on Facebook.

Facebook Customer Support

The big question: Can Facebook begin to offer more personalized support to small businesses -- instant chat, a phone hotline, etc. According to the Inside Facebook blog, Levy pointed to a few targeted efforts like the pop-up chat support for Custom Audience -- an audience targeting tool. Moreover, Facebook offers dedicated account managers to SMBs that participate in the Start to Success program.

Here at After Nines Inc., Amy Katz and I are certainly studying Facebook's SMB strategy for audience development. But I wouldn't say we're ready to open our wallets quite yet. Roughly 17 percent of our traffic currently comes from Facebook thanks to some of the organic moves we're making. But I expect that figure will drop -- not rise -- for a range of reasons I won't explain just yet.

In addition to ROI considerations, we'll also keep privacy concerns in mind. Facebook's latest ad tracking system and Facebook Messenger App have certainly raised some eyebrows.

Facebook Dollars and Cents

On the business front, Facebook faced a wave of negative headlines roughly two years ago, when GM and others pulled Facebook ads because ROI appeared low. More recently, some small businesses suggested Facebook's pricing model was becoming too expensive to justify. Despite those concerns, there are signs that Facebook's ad strategy -- particularly in the mobile market -- is gaining, rather than losing, momentum.

How exactly is Facebook performing, particularly with SMB customers? We'll get more clues when Facebook delivers quarterly earnings on Oct. 28, 2014. In the meantime, keep telling your rivals that LinkedIn is for business and Facebook is for consumers. (Of course, you know better.)

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