Q&A with Facebook Director of Small Business Dan Levy (Part II)

DanLevy300Small businesses make up a great portion of the Facebook ecosystem. While some only advertise once a month, or spend a few dollars a week, it is possible to grow a business through Facebook advertising.

Facebook Director of Small Business Dan Levy recently spoke with InsideFacebook.com to learn more about Facebook’s goals for helping small businesses thrive. Part one of the interview can be found here.

Inside Facebook: Speaking more to businesses that either spend a little bit or haven’t spent yet, how does Facebook get a small business started? Is there any help on Facebook for when a business starts to have a presence?

Dan Levy: One of the beauties of Facebook is that most small business owners are on Facebook already, just as themselves. They’re their real identity and they’re on Facebook interacting with friends. It’s a very natural progression for them to learn and understand how Facebook works, and then do what they’ve been doing on Facebook as a user for their business as a page.

One of the things we like to tell people is that using Facebook for your business is as easy as using Facebook as a user. We know more than 1 billion people have used Facebook as a user, so we think we’ve got a really good solution there.

A lot of the evolution we see is someone comes to Facebook as a user, and they’ll create a page, then they’ll start to get engagement from that page, and they’ll write for their business just as they were writing for their personal Facebook page. And from there, they’ll start to get traction and really see the value that they’re getting from reaching customers and driving sales. They’ll start to invest more in it from an advertising perspective.

IFB: What are the types of businesses that are coming to Facebook more often? What trends do you see, in terms of businesses joining Facebook and advertising now?

Levy: With a million active advertisers, we see a little bit of everything and there’s probably things that we haven’t even seen yet. We think it falls into a few categories, but we really believe that the solution works for everybody. Obviously local businesses are using it because there’s very powerful targeting for reaching people with precise interests around your business. For one example, there’s a school on the East Coast, an equestrian college. They can reach people in and around their area that are interested in horses, and are in an age group that would want to go back to school to change their career.

That’s one type of example. Obviously e-commerce businesses do quite well on Facebook. … Whether it’s trying to draw traffic to their physical business or their online store, we think we’ve built a really good solution and we’re seeing all these great businesses come up on Facebook, and there’s millions more.

IFB: What are some advertising techniques that businesses have used to get people through the door and get in-store conversions?

Levy: I think starting from the page has been the key, as businesses have control of the page on Facebook. Posting content that’s really engaging brings up brand awareness and we’ve seen businesses use everything from our Offers product to draw people in to softer things like whisper codes and pictures of new products and announcements of new hours or sales. The same types of things that they’ve been advertising forever, they’re doing on Facebook to reach their customers. We’re constantly talking to them about new variations that we can make and different pieces of value that we can add to the product.

One thing that we think is working that we’re starting to understand more is mobile for small businesses. Obviously, if you’re a local business, people are walking around, so the ability to put content into their News Feed — which is the part of Facebook they’re looking at the most — is a really effective way to get them to recognize and see your business.

We’ve also started early work on Nearby, which is essentially a geographic search product. So for people who are looking for a restaurant in an area or looking for a business where they might be, it’s a really powerful product. Last time I was in New York City about a month ago, I needed a place to eat close to where I was. Instead of talking to the concierge, I opened up Nearby on my phone within the Facebook app to see where my friends had been eating in and around where I was staying. It ended up having a great recommendation for a tavern just down the street, which I never would’ve discovered on my own.

IFB: What are some things you think Facebook could do more of, to help small businesses? What’s coming up in the future, or what are some things you wish Facebook could do now, but are maybe in development?

Levy: There are three areas we’ve been focusing on and delivering things and three areas where I think you’re going to see more innovation.

One is about objectives and reaching goals. So, really helping a small business define what they’re trying to do and make sure we just deliver the solutions that help them achieve those goals.

The second is around simplicity, and we’ve talked about this. It’s just ensuring that once we understand the objectives, we reach the customers that are most relevant to them so their time and their money gets spent in the best possible way. Whether that’s in targeting or delivery or ad formats, it’s making sure that with a few simple choices, they can have a really powerful marketing solution.

The third is around mobile. Obviously everyone hears the stories about how users are on mobile, and how more than 30 percent of Facebook’s revenue is now coming from mobile apps, but businesses are on mobile, as well. The ability to interact and manage their business from a mobile device, because they’re not sitting behind a computer all day, is really important.

We’ve invested in a Pages Manager application that more than 10 million pages are now using to update their page and to see what’s happening with their fans when they’re on the go. You could imagine for a service business, someone who isn’t behind a computer everyday, that’s a really important thing.

We’re going to continue to invest in those three things to really help advertisers and marketers achieve their objective. It’s about making things simple and trying to make it more and more powerful. We like to tell small businesses that if you have a page on Facebook, you have a mobile advertising strategy. You don’t need to customize anything. What you produce or write works on every smartphone, on every Web page, in your local neighborhood and around the world.

Readers: What else do you want to know about how small businesses can succeed on Facebook?

Part one of the Dan Levy interview can be found here.