Facebook’s new small business marketing strategies

Facebook has started a serious courtship of the small business community, launching several new products over the last few weeks. Marketing Editor Natalie Apostolou explains what the site's plans mean for your marketing dollar.

This week the social networker jumped on the group buying bandwagon testing its own "Deals on Facebook" service in five US markets.

The service differs from most group buying sites in that it focuses on using your profile data to offer services targeted to your area and social activities that you can enjoy with your Facebook friends.

“While many Deals on Facebook offer discounts, it's more important to us that you find interesting experiences around you to do with friends.

"We've worked with partners and local businesses to help deliver the best social activities in your area," Emily White, director of local at Facebook wrote on the company blog.

Users can opt to either have deals emailed to them or be notified through Facebook notifications.

The service is being trialled in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco, with plans to eventually expand to other cities.

If Facebook does this right it could blow many of the smaller group buying players out of the market.

However, Facebook is keeping the revenue share details with its merchants under wraps for now.

The viral and recommendation nature of group buying will work in Facebook’s favour as every time a user purchases a deal it will appear in their news feed and may prompt further take up in that social circle.

It appears the Facebook are also looking for their deal partners to offer creative deals that won’t be easily replicated elsewhere.

In one of their early offerings Austin City Limits Live has put up an 'All Access Experience' for concerts starting in May.

The deal gives you backstage passes, sound check access and a catered dinner in addition to attending the show.

Facebook has its own sales staff, but is also working with the deals sites that they partnered with for Check-in Deals (its FourSquare knock off attempt) such as: Opentable, Gilt City, Tippr, PopSugar, Plum District and ReachLocal.

Meanwhile, with 92 per cent of US marketers using Facebook as a marketing tool, according to a new survey from Social Media Examiner, the crew at Facebook will continue to roll out more targeted apps.

In late March Facebook launched a stand-alone community site Facebook Studio where ad agency creatives, PR and media strategy types can share ideas, comment on campaigns and learn what it takes to create a successful page for a brand.

The site provides for fertile information for any SME to gather insights into how to launch their own social media campaigns.

Facebook claims that this is the first step in a two-way dialogue between Facebook and the creative advertising world.

The tool is just one facet of Facebook’s courtship of creative media agencies as the company looks to cement its own brand of online advertising and widen its revenues.

A dedicated team was hired in August to facilitate agency relations and meet with the Mad Men set over past six months to glean what they needed from Facebook.

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