Facebook’s relationship with small businesses is … complicated.
Enticed since 2007 by the free marketing opportunity of Facebook Pages, many SMBs have counted on the social network to help them make direct connections with customers. So when Facebook began to throttle Pages’ organic reach in the News Feed in the last several years, eventually telling business owners that the best way to reach customers on Facebook is to pay for advertising, many SMBs felt burned.
Pay to reach the community we worked so hard to build? Can you say bait and switch?
Jonathan Czaja, Facebook’s director of small business for North America, understands that feeling. In an interview this week with Street Fight, he said Facebook’s adjustments require changes in marketers’ thinking:
“The reality is that Facebook as an advertising platform is evolving. We started with ads based on social metrics, and what we’ve done is spend a ton of time building advertising products based on business objectives rather than social actions. We’ve seen this platform evolve and now our advertisers are having to evolve with us.”
So why should a small business continue investing in community building on Facebook? Czaja’s answer:
“There’s still a lot of value to the Page apart from distributing content to your fans. We’ll have a lot more to say about Pages going forward, and we do think it’s important that small business create a presence on Facebook and demonstrate the value they bring to their customers.”
Czaja acknowledged that Facebook has “underinvested in the service it has provided to small businesses,” but said to expect improvement.
Facebook now has 2 million active advertisers — a likely majority of which are SMBs — and Czaja said Facebook is working to improve customer service for them. He said Facebook is currently testing live chat for advertiser support, is looking into voice support and will be investing heavily in online courses and other self-help tools.
“These companies are pouring their heart and money into their platform,” he said, “so we need to not only build products for them, but also provide the support to help them use our platforms.”
You can read the full interview at Street Fight.
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