Facebook for SMBs: I’m Not Buying It

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ADOTAS – Facebook is in the midst of a five-city tour, part of the social media network’s plan to turn tens of millions of small businesses on its site into paying clients. With its tour, Facebook is trying to actively court small businesses.

Facebook reports 30 million small businesses have active pages on the network. Impressive. But does quantity translate into ROI for small business? Many have reported on Facebook’s decline in organic reach, a move by the network to demand ad payment to reach potential and existing customers. This is only one part of the story.

I like Anthony Ha at TechCrunch. I’ve worked with him on a number of occasions and believe he has a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the world of advertising technology. However, after reading his most recent article about Facebook, I’m still not convinced that Facebook is right for small businesses. In the article, Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small business, addresses the big question: If the decline in organic reach continues, will we hit the point where the only way for a business to reach its Facebook fans is with ads? Levy said the company will always try to do “what’s right for the people on Facebook,” and things will keep changing, so Facebook is “going to make the changes to keep things engaging for people.”

The harsh reality is that Facebook is in the business of making money. Now that they have lured in all these small businesses to join their network for free, the big opportunity for the business is capitalizing on the opt-in community of users they have. However, to date, I’ve yet to see anyone calling Facebook out for not staying true to their core principles, as Levy claims they will do.

This contradicts everything Facebook is supposedly about. Facebook for Small Business is able about gimmicky and false connections.

Facebook has created a Fortress that encapsulates a good deal of the world’s conversations and they exert control, direct and skew those conversations for their own monetary benefit. It is an attack against the free Internet that small businesses believed in and it creates a haven for social agencies to manipulate clients with bogus data. Is the definition of “reach” a successful campaign and ROI, or is it a “Like” from someone who opened a Facebook account yesterday and has an audience of 3 people from Tanzania.

In an interview with Mark Bergen of AdvertisingAge about Facebook’s tour, Levy made two telling statements:

1.“I think there are things we haven’t figured out yet.”

2. ‘We don’t want to take a ton of money.’

Ha concludes his article with an anecdote from Levy saying that Facebook ads for small business work – since he said he and his wife became first-time homeowners after seeing an ad on Facebook for the Palo Alto house that they would eventually buy.

Wow, after reading that I’m now “sold” – NOT!

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