Less than two weeks after the social media giant reported its best-ever quarterly results, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been talking about the importance of its ongoing investments and diverse revenue stream. She has emphasized the importance of Facebook’s relationship with small business, just weeks before its first ever Small and Medium Business Council (SMBC) is due to be convened.
“Having both the big brands and the long tail of the SMBs – small- to medium-sized businesses – makes a huge difference,” Sandberg revealed in an interview with CNBC. She noted that Facebook is currently trying to attract more of the latter to advertise with it. Developing this option has required not only making adverts work but also investing in technology that can prove they work. Facebook’s aim has been to show a direct link between people seeing its adverts and actually making purchases.
The SMBC is intended to focus on Facebook’s successes in promoting small business and also win back former SME customers who have become disillusioned with it, largely by highlighting the ways in which it has improved its service.
It is a challenging time for Facebook to take this on, just as complaints have started to flood in about fake "likes" stripping some pages of their value. These are not a case of page owners buying "likes" to make themselves seem more popular but a side effect of other companies doing this. To cover their tracks, people in the business of creating fake "likes" click on other pages as well as those they are promoting. This results in innocent pages looking fake, which can put off genuine users, and becoming unable to determine anything useful from their fan metrics. As Facebook tries to find and remove the fake users making the "likes", business users are calling for a tool that lets them delete "likes" en masse. If this could identify when "likes" were made, the fake ones could potentially be deleted without affecting the established followings.
Problems such as this will be at the forefront of Facebook’s concerns as it undertakes its new campaign for small business engagement. What many business owners will be hoping is that this campaign will also see good deals offered to new customers or to those extending their use of paid advertising on the site. It may also trigger a fresh focus on SMEs by Facebook’s rivals, as it is widely agreed that this is a section of the market where battles are yet to be won.