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

Facebook advertising isn’t just for the Starbucks and Coca-Colas of the world. In the past few years, small businesses have taken to Facebook not only to connect with loyal fans, but to advertise to future customers.

Facebook announced two weeks ago that more than 1 million advertisers have purchased some kind of ad unit within the past 28 days. This is huge for the company, and shows that there’s an ecosystem of businesses big and small on the site. Facebook Director of Small Business Dan Levy chatted with InsideFacebook.com about how advertising through the site has proven beneficial for small businesses, and what the company plans to do in the future to continue to help these advertisers who don’t have millions of dollars or a marketing department.

Levy, before joining Facebook in 2008, was a small business owner himself. He founded Justarrive.com, a ticket and marketing service for professional and college sports organizations. He came to Facebook from Pay Pal, where he lead product and operations organizations around the world. Now he leads the team that offers support to small businesses who want to grow through Facebook.

Inside Facebook: You recently celebrated the 1 million advertiser mark at Facebook. Do you have a ballpark figure of how many of them are small businesses?

Dan Levy: Yeah, last week we announced a million active advertisers on Facebook — meaning people that spent in the last 28 days. Obviously there’s a lot more businesses on Facebook that don’t spend right now, but the vast majority of that 1 million are small businesses. When you think about it, there’s just not that many big businesses in the world. I don’t know how many (are small businesses), but it’s a vast majority.

IFB: When did you realize that Facebook could be a force for small businesses?

Levy: It’s interesting. Small businesses have been on Facebook since we started the pages product. We think businesses have been using word of mouth as what would be social media before social media existed forever. Whether it was having their customers talk about them, or talking to folks as they were coming down the street — we think it’s a time-honored tradition that word of mouth helps small businesses.

At Facebook, as soon as we started the pages product, which was a place where something that wasn’t a person could be on Facebook — a place, a business — small businesses were early adopters of that. So we had small businesses on Facebook early on, and now there are more than 16 million local small businesses with a page on Facebook.

We’ve always known that small businesses have been good on Facebook — not only for them, but also because users want to connect with them. I think we’ve obviously seen a lot of momentum in the last few years, especially this past year, as businesses have been using a lot more of our simplified ad products and mobile ad products to reach their customers.

IFB: Facebook has been making a huge push toward simplifying ads, and focusing on the goal — “Do you want to get more page likes?” “Do you want more reach?” “Do you want to get more people in the door?” Has a lot of this push for simplification been geared toward small businesses?

Levy: I think we hit the key point, which is it’s really about the objectives and goals for businesses. The feedback that I hear all the time, as I talk with small business owners, is: we’re trying to get more customers in the door, we want to do more online sales, we want more people to know that we’ve moved to a new location, or we have an application that we want people to buy. We think those are very universal objectives and goals that translate not only for businesses but for small businesses.

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