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SMEs flock to Facebook

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More than two million businesses, many of them SMEs, around the world are now advertising on Facebook, highlighting the importance of the social networking site in the small business marketing mix.

More than two million businesses around the world, most of them small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are now actively investing in advertising with Facebook, a number that has grown from 1.5 million in July 2014. This highlights how important Facebook is becoming in the SME’s marketing mix.

These numbers include healthy growth across South Africa and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa,” says Aidan Baigrie, Sub-Saharan Africa for Facebook. With more than 50 million active mobile users in Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent clearly demonstrates being mobile-first. “We are seeing more and more African SMEs embrace advertising on Facebook because it drives sales. At Facebook, we are delighted to play a role in small businesses’ growth stories.

Small businesses are the backbone of the African economy, he adds. They drive economic growth and new jobs. The number one reason small businesses succeed or fail is their ability to attract customers. Up until now, it has been expensive and difficult to reach customers with limited time and resources available to them, says Baigrie.

But platforms such as Facebook are changing this picture by delivering personalised marketing at scale and affordable costs. Facebook democratises marketing by giving the same tools to every business so that they can grow – regardless of size, location, industry or skill level.

With accurate targeting that saves SMEs from wasting money on audiences they don’t want to reach, Facebook is the best place to build their brands and sell their products. Tools such as the newly launched Facebook Ads Manager app – which allows businesses to manage ads on the go from mobile devices wherever they are – make it even easier for SMEs to stay on top of their campaigns.

“As more and more people turn to the web and to their phones to discover and connect with businesses, it’s crucial that small businesses have an online presence. And Facebook is the best platform for them to do this,” says Baigrie.

Baigrie says three factors explain the growing popularity of Facebook with SME advertisers. Firstly, it is easy to use with a lower barrier to entry. Most SMEs start out as personal users of the service. They quickly branch out into starting a business page – as easy as setting up a personal profile. Then, it’s easy for them to graduate to using Facebook’s ‚Äòlight weight’ solutions that they can do with one click from their page.

Once SMEs start a Page, there are ways to use in-product messages to help them, say, fill out their profile, talk to a Facebook support person, or learn how to boost their posts. Of new Facebook advertisers acquired in the fourth quarter of 2014, 80% started by using such solutions.

Secondly, Facebook offers SMEs a simple and affordable way to do targeted advertising with proven results. Facebook gives them tools that let them see how their spending is improving the bottom line.

Thirdly, the consumer shift to mobile is making more business owners want to use Facebook’s mobile tools to reach customers and manage their businesses. “We have the best mobile ad product,” Baigrie says.

Almost 70% of Facebook users globally are connected to at least one small business in their home country (SME Page, local or eCommerce, classified as SME by Facebook). In total, there are 25 billion connections between SMEs and people worldwide.

Concludes Baigrie: “As businesses are increasingly investing in us, we want to continue investing more in them. This year, we are scaling our SME-dedicated support to include more in-person educational events around the world as well as access to more online support for any business who wants to grow with Facebook.

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