Facebook SMB head Dan Levy addresses organic reach, personalized help and video

By Justin Lafferty Comment

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Dan Levy, Facebook’s Director of Small Business, knows that you want more direct help and response from Facebook. The small business department has been reaching out to frustrated page owners, guiding them through advertising features such as Custom Audiences, and helping out small business owners attending events.

Levy spoke to a capacity crowd Wednesday at Intuit’s QuickBooks Connect in San Jose, Calif., a conference aimed at helping small business owners reach their goals. Levy talked about how intelligent targeting, the conversion pixel and a mobile approach can help busy small business owners find success through the site. But what if you actually want to talk with someone from Facebook about your business? That’s one of the things Facebook has been investing in, Levy recently told Inside Facebook in an interview.

Inside Facebook: Can we talk about the way that video is being utilized by small businesses on Facebook?

Dan Levy: We’ve seen small businesses using video on Facebook for a long time. There’s been a lot of organic activity already. What we’re really excited about and what we’re seeing use from is our new video views objective. If you’re a small business owner, you can click for views, which is great because it helps us get it to more people who are going to see your video. So we’ve got examples from all over the world — Grant’s Whisky from Scotland takes stuff that they were running on small TV budgets, running it on Facebook and they were really excited about the results.

We’re seeing other examples across the United States — toy companies and many others — of people who are starting to use video as a way to help tell a more engaging story than just a story. Especially with auto-play on the consumer side.

IF: So you’re seeing companies import more video away from TV and YouTube and into Facebook?

DL: We’re seeing all types. We’re seeing stuff that was produced in TV coming to Facebook. We’re seeing stuff that was on YouTube coming to Facebook. We’re also seeing stuff that frankly just gets shot on smartphones, where someone just says, “You know, I’m just going to make this instead of a picture post.” We think it’s great and we think there’s going to be a lot more.

IF: Something I’ve heard from page admins is that while Facebook is getting much better at explaining concepts and making advertising simpler, they want someone there to offer support. How is Facebook working toward getting more individualized support for small business owners on the site?

DL: One of the things we learned on our summer Facebook Fit tour is that people do want face-to-face help. We made the product simple and there are 30 million pages that are using it without much help. But for those that do want a little more help, we’ve been investing in that in a few ways. One is through very specific programs. We ran a small program for those who wanted to use Custom Audiences, which is one of our targeting solutions. If they got stuck, we’d pop up a little message asking if they want someone to talk it through on the phone. Not broad support, but on a very specific issue. We got very positive response and more people started using the product. We think this is going to be the future of where we go, which is really targeted help and support.

We’ve also continued to invest in a program (Start to Success) that helps people onboard. So if they’re new to Facebook, we’ll do a series of calls with them over the course of a month to help them learn how to use Facebook. We’ll always build a solution to make it easy to use as possible, but we’re also investing in trying to provide a human face for support with Facebook.

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IF: So if I’m a small business owner who has tried advertising and is still struggling, what are some ways I could reach out to Facebook and get personal help?

DL: We’ve got a lot of channels. The Facebook.com/Business page has all of the available methods to contact us, including the one-on-one coaching program I mentioned earlier. There’s also community forums where people can ask each other questions and we’re seeing a lot of activity on those community forums. We’re also seeing a developing ecosystem of businesses that are developing services to consult with small businesses, as well. Some of them are obviously good and going to be helpful.

The main thing to take away is that we’ll always make the solutions as easy to use as possible, but we’re also investing more and providing support to make people successful, because we want to help grow the business. If we have to help them a little bit to get started, we’re happy to do that.

IF: What are some emerging changes and trends that you’ve seen with SMB marketing?

DL: Some of the stuff we talked about, with video, is really important. The creative canvas that people use on Facebook is going to continue to evolve — from text, to picture, to video — and that’s going to continue to grow and be more accessible to people as the technology for video gets simpler. We always talk about making sure that small business owners get the most effective return on their time and their money.

You’re going to see themes from us about simplicity and being able to manage your ads from mobile. We just released the mobile ads manager and we’re going to continue to make things simpler, especially on mobile. And through targeting, we’ve released more ways to make it simple, with things like Lookalike Audiences and other extensions — all of which are about helping you more efficiently spend your marketing dollars. Those are the things we’ve been investing in for the past year or two and those are the things we’re going to keep investing in because they work.

IF: I know Atlas was recently launched, but do you see it being relevant to small business owners in the future as the technology becomes more widely available?

DL: Atlas is in really early days. We obviously are excited about the possibility of Atlas. I think, for small businesses, it’s really meant more for the people who have the big budgets and lots of campaigns across lots of different devices. The thing I think might be relevant for small business is attribution across both mobile and desktop. We know a lot of folks are advertising on mobile, especially if you’re in e-commerce, and converting on desktop. We’ve been releasing insights so you can know, even if they converted on a desktop, it probably wasn’t from the last click. It was probably from something that was influenced earlier in the mobile view.

IF: Many page admins and small business owners are either discouraged by their efforts so far or are hesitant to put money into Facebook advertising because of the drop in organic reach they’ve experienced. What advice would you have for these marketers? It seems like there’s a bit of disconnect between what Facebook can do and what these page owners have tried.

DL: I understand their frustration on organic reach. It’s something that I’ve talked about with lots of business owners. When I talk to the business owners and we chat more about it, what we end up talking about is, what’s the business objective that you’re actually trying to reach? Are you trying to get more people to see a post or are you trying to get more people into your store or are you trying to sell something online? We’re trying to help them realize that we want to not be their social media partner, but we want to be their real marketing partner to help grow their business.

Sometimes, that’s going to be through posting on your page. Sometimes, that might be through marketing or advertising. If you want a more predictable way to reach the customers that matter to you, advertising is a good way to do that. You can spend hours trying to come up with the perfect post, or you might be able to spend $10 or $100, then get on to something else in your business like working with your customers. If they’re looking for predictable reach, then advertising is the way to do it.

Readers: What other methods of support would you like from Facebook?

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