Facebook’s Boost Your Business Events Pop Up Across the U.S. to Help SMBs

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    I attended one of Facebook’s Boost Your Business Events in New Albany, Ind. last week. The event was co-sponsored by One Southern Indiana, the combined Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce for Clark and Floyd Counties, which are just across the Ohio River from the city of Louisville, Ky. It featured an opening speech by Indiana Congressman Todd Young and an educational presentation by Facebook’s SMB Community Engagement Advocate, Ciara Viehweg. Local SMBs Four Barrel CrossFit and Mom & Pop’s Cone Corner Store served as panelists and provided background on their successful use of Facebook.

    Prior to the event, I was able to arrange a face-to-face interview with Bess Yount, SMB community engagement manager for Facebook. Yount explained that Facebook is very focused on SMBs and these Boost Your Business events grew from the company’s attempt at helping smaller businesses grow by using Facebook and its tools.

    This year we launched the Boost Your Business program globally because we were hearing from small businesses that they wanted to interact with Facebook in person and they really wanted to talk to someone to learn more. … We also launched chat support so now all advertisers on Facebook have access to email and chat support. We are also currently testing phone support. These are all big investments we’ve made in small businesses because of how much time they are spending with us.

    For a business that is just getting started with the Facebook platform, Yount said that the best place to go is the Facebook for Business area on the company’s site. It provides easy access to creating a company page or ad and a link to online help.

    Yount said that Facebook initially held “four to five big marquise” events in larger cities in support of SMBs, but then extended that to these “pop-up events” for Boost Your Business that are happening in smaller cities all over North America. As Yount described, they are on the road meeting SMBs almost every week all over the U.S., and she is “always amazed at the success stories and the diversity of stories” that businesses share with her at the events.

    Facebook SMB EventOne business at the event, Four Barrel CrossFit, shared its story with me. Case Belcher, owner and head coach at Four Barrel, described the business as “a strength and conditioning gym for the masses.” The gym is located in New Albany, Ind. And, according to Belcher, has found an interesting way to use Facebook to retain members.

    People come to us for the results, but I think they stay for the community. Social media is just a great way for us to help foster that community and show off the great community that we’ve got going on. Facebook has been great because there are so many different avenues that we can use to help foster community, through events or posting member accolades and things like that.

    I also spoke briefly with Indiana Congressman Todd Young, who says he uses social media in general, and Facebook specifically, to share information about policy initiatives, offer his perspective on current events, and to let people know about local opportunities that may help others who are seeking employment or other happenings within the local community. Congressman Young feels that Facebook and social media offer a great opportunity for SMBs to market their businesses:

    I see it as a force multiplier. It’s interactive unlike more traditional forms of media. It has a very broad reach, and you can get an awful lot of marketing bang for your buck.

    Congressman Young did say that SMBs should educate themselves with the platform before jumping in completely, and that is why events like Facebook’s Boost Your Business are important. For a smaller business, having access to such a program can really set them on the right track with the best ways to use the platform to help grow their business.

    In an upcoming post, I will share what I learned about Facebook from the event and give some tips that SMBs can use to boost their own businesses.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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