Let's face it, despite the fact that Facebook is facing real issues with regard to privacy and potential regulation, if you're a business owner, it's hard to ignore. With close to 2.4 billion monthly active users, there's a decent chance that most of your customers are on there, even if most of them are just wasting time, or sharing photos of their pets.
The challenge for many entrepreneurs is how to best cut through the noise and leverage that audience into something that makes sense for their business. Facebook has long had tools available for paid advertisers, but for the average self-funded small business or solopreneur, it could be a little overwhelming to figure out how to get started.
This morning, Facebook is announcing that they are launching a series of initiatives aimed at small businesses and designed to make it easier to use their platform to grow your business. Here's what they've announced, and what it means for your small business:
There's really no question that Facebook is one of the most popular ways to advertise your business, and now it seems Facebook is trying to make it easier. In many ways, this is a win for both Facebook and it's small business customers. Facebook removes the complexity behind advertising on its platform, which is good for small businesses. In return, they get more advertisers, which means more revenue.
I asked Nikila Srinivasan, Director of Product Management at Facebook what is different about automated ads, and she told me that Facebook is trying "learn what the small business is about and learning how they do business today, and make it easy to set it up in four steps. We do the recommendation for you based on what we learned about your business and provide a customized marketing plan for you"
The whole process is automated, and if it's easier, that's great, but I'm not a huge fan of services that try to tell me who I should market to and how. That's especially true when that service has a competing interest, like making money from me. Of course, if Facebook can demonstrate that they really have made it easier for small businesses to find more customers, and that translates into growing your business, then I'm game.
If you have a Facebook Business Page, you'll now be able to let your customers book appointments and you'll be able to manage their information through the mobile app. For example, if you're a hair salon or photography studio, you'll be able to use Facebook instead of third-party booking software to manage your customer appointments for free.
I like free, and I think it's a really cool idea, especially if you find a lot of your customers on Facebook. At the same time, I think it's important to think carefully about how much control over your customer relationships you're willing to hand over to any one partner. I definitely think it will be a convenient option if your businesses aren't already invested in another scheduling software provider.
Video Creation Tools
This is where things get really interesting. It's long been the case that video was by far the biggest driver of engagement on Facebook, so it makes sense that they are offering something to let you do more than just upload quick smartphone videos. It certainly won't compete with video editing tools from Adobe or Apple or any of the video tools available for your smartphone. Of course, if all you want to do is upload a video, shorten it, and add some text, you're probably not looking for a third-party production suite anyway.
I see this as a way to shoot a quick video on your iPhone, upload it, crop and trim, and add a logo or text overlay. It won't make your videos any better, but it'll make them look a little more professional if you do it right.