Nationwide, millions of small businesses have joined Facebook as a means of connecting with a potentially massive amount of potential and past customers in their areas. This allows them to continually address a relatively captive audience, letting those consumers keep up with how a company is doing, and what it might have to offer on an ongoing basis. And to that end, many are now paying for Facebook ads, which can further improve the number of eyes seeing their offerings.
Indeed, Facebook is now up to 3 million advertisers overall, and the majority of them are in fact small businesses, according to a report from USA Today. That number is up 50 percent in the last year, and puts it into closer competition with the titan of online advertising: Google. By comparison, Facebook's advertiser base is approximately 23 times greater than that of Twitter's (130,000 or so) and 15 times greater than Instagram's, which is actually owned by Facebook anyway.
"Our mission is to connect the world, and connecting people to small businesses that provide their local business services is really an important part of that mission," Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told the newspaper.
A focus on small businesses
One of the big advantages Facebook has over its competitors in this realm is that it has specifically tried to connect with smaller companies as advertisers in recent years, the report said. This is especially true thanks to efforts to get mobile ads more involved. Facebook recently added the ability of advertisers to create an ad right from their mobile devices, and already more than 1 million – a third of the company's entire global advertiser base – have taken that step.
This comes in addition to the free small business pages these companies are allowed to set up, the report said. Currently, more than 50 million small businesses around the world have a Pages site on Facebook, and about 20 million of these companies use its Pages Manager tool to better deal with the ins and outs of running those sites.
As a consequence of all this, Facebook saw sales in the fourth quarter of last year spike 52 percent, to a total of $5.84 billion globally, the report said. That success in selling ads on mobile devices has done a lot of the legwork for this increase. That revenue total was up from less than $4 billion just a year earlier, marking one of the largest annual increases the company has observed since 2012.
What can companies do?
Of course, not all small business owners may feel their companies have the financial wherewithal to make online ad buys like these. However, working with specialists at a community bank to develop a sound financial plan may go a long way toward helping small firms figure out exactly what they should be doing, and how best to go about trying to broaden their local impacts.