Facebook wants to bridge the information gap for advertisers

Facebook Fit "Small Business Boot Camp"

One of the most common desires for Facebook marketers is the ability to actually talk with someone from the company when they’re looking for help or inspiration. Now it looks like Facebook is bridging that gap.

By promoting the company’s Start to Success program — which a Facebook spokesperson said has been around for 3 years — and going around the country with Facebook Fit events, Facebook wants to offer face-to-face engagement.

The Facebook Fit events have been pretty popular. Facebook told Inside Facebook that events have averaged roughly 900 attendees at each city  — so far, New York, Miami and Chicago. Facebook will host these events in Austin (July 24) and Menlo Park, Calif. (Aug. 5), both of which Facebook said are sold out. Based on the success of these events, the social network is considering expanding the program to more cities in the U.S. and other countries.

Through these events, business owners and marketers can hear from Facebook directly and talk with Dan Levy, who leads the company’s Global Small Business team. At the Miami event, Facebook even had a contest for attendees, who created a video showing how they promote their business locally. The winner received an all-expense paid trip to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park.

Samantha Steinbring, an Earned Media Specialist at Deluxe, attended the Chicago Facebook Fit event. She talked with Inside Facebook about her experience:

In attending Facebook Fit, I was hoping to learn more about how small businesses can use Facebook to grow their businesses and about the challenges small businesses experience with marketing themselves online

I thought the experience was great! It was clear that the small business owners in attendance got a lot out of it and felt empowered to use Facebook effectively for their business. I learned a lot about ad targeting on Facebook and the various ways to run Facebook ads. I do feel like I came out of the event with a new respect for the way Facebook works with and for small businesses.

Levy explained at the Miami event the goal of Facebook Fit:

Small business owners who are coming here to look at how to get started and form a free Facebook page if they’ve never been on Facebook before, and if you’re really advanced and looking to grow e-commerce, you can learn some of the new tools and techniques we have.

As the events gain steam, the company started pushing another way to talk with a representative — Start to Success. The program launched 3 years ago (as of last year, sister site AllFacebook reported that it was available to marketers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa), but Facebook wanted to make a bigger push recently.

The program is aimed at bringing new advertisers onto the platform, but Start to Success is open to current and past advertisers, as well.

A Facebook spokesperson explained why many page admins saw a prompt last week to sign up for Start to Success:

(We’re promoting) now because we’re seeing good traction and also we’re ramping up more proactive and 1:1 consultation.

According to Facebook, tens of thousands of people have already participated in Start to Success, which requires a minimum ad investment of $1,400, covering 4 weeks.

The main way that advertisers and marketers have found help has been through the Facebook for Business hub, which the company re-vamped and re-launched last year. The site offers best practices, guided ad help and success stories from brands of several sizes and verticals. While this is great, many people want a more direct way to access someone from Facebook with their questions.

While shareholders (often just everyday users) have asked for this at Facebook’s annual shareholder meetings, it has also been something small business owners and limited advertisers have sought. Many page admins even ask Inside Facebook for advice, looking for something beyond a Help Center or Facebook for Business entry.

Now it seems like Facebook is taking steps to provide this. While the price tag can be a bit steep for those who are just trying to get their feet wet with Facebook advertising, it does show that Facebook is interested in talking one-on-one with advertisers and marketers.

Readers: What else would you like to see Facebook do to help small businesses?

Image courtesy of Facebook.

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