Facebook Reaches Out to Small-Business Owners
In an effort to learn more about how its social network fuels business success, Facebook is reaching out to expert entrepreneurs through its newly formed Small and Medium Business Council. The council convened for the first time in March at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., reports David Cohen, editor of the AllFacebook blog.
Eighteen entrepreneurs from 12 businesses make up the council, which is designed to be a give-and-take between the world’s largest social media network and representatives of the millions of business owners who actively use it to reach customers.
“It is a wonderful opportunity,” council member Kay Martinovic, owner of Kay’s Designer Consignment in Ormond Beach, Fla., tells the Intuit Small Business Blog. “This avenue that we have now not only deals with Facebook’s small- to medium-size business team directly, but also with other members of the council. It is a great group of fantastically imaginative, creative people, and the ideas that are bounced back and forth are very exciting.”
Poking Around Facebook
Martinovic and her husband, Michael, have owned their high-end consignment shop for 12 years. She created a Facebook page for her business back in 2009 but didn’t update it regularly.
“About a year ago, I started really thinking I need to use this tool that is available to me, and then I really started actively putting up photos and postings, putting up sales, and putting up Facebook fan-only specials,” she says.
The marketing strategy worked for the shop and allowed her to keep track of results.
“I’m very big on tracking statistics. I love graphs, and we saw a 40 percent increase in our average transaction within a few months. Within a nine-month period, our sales increased 30 percent,” Martinovic says. “Right now, we’re way above that. Our ROI is up to $35 for every dollar that we spend on Facebook, and our sales are up 50 percent over this time last year.”
Boosting Posts and Sales
Kay’s Designer Consignment fan page now has more than 5,000 likes and attracts clients from around the world. Martinovic says she has reduced her advertising budget by eliminating everything but Facebook. The process of posting an item on Facebook is much easier than trying to update her website, she adds.
“Because it is consignment, every item we get is one-of-a-kind,” Martinovic says. “For me to maintain a website and put products up on a website is time-consuming and cumbersome and costly. With Facebook, I can put up a picture and a post in less than a minute.”
What’s more, she says, the learning curve was minimal. “I am not a techie, and I found it extremely easy to use,” Martinovic says. “I also found that once I started boosting posts and doing sponsored ads, I found how easy it is to look at my results see what’s working and what isn’t.”
She also loves the flexibility that it gives her. “If I boost a post, I can look at my stats and see how it’s working. If it’s not working, I can take it down and cancel it, and I’m not throwing my money out the window,” Martinovic says. “With print advertising, once you pay to run that ad and it’s printed, you are stuck with it.”
Sharing Her Insights
According to Martinovic, Small and Medium Business Council members will serve six- or 12-month terms before a new group of entrepreneurs is tapped. But she won’t ever sever her ties to Facebook, and she plans to share what she knows with other business owners in her community.
“This is going to be a never-ending story. We will stay on and mentor and stay in the background but continue to learn and continue to put in our input about what has helped our businesses grow,” Martinovic says.
“I don’t want to keep to myself what I’ve learned. I want to share it with other businesses in our community, so that they too can use the tools that are so easy to use and help us do better.”
Carla Turchetti is a veteran broadcast, print and digital journalist who is passionate about small businesses and the stories behind them. Carla is a small-business columnist at the News & Observer, the regional daily newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina.