Facebook Looking for Local Media Partners With ‘Reach and Relationships’

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facebooklikebuttonOf all the rides at the SMB digital marketing carnival, the longest line is at the Facebook fun house. A whopping 13 million SMB pages are active on Facebook. And to help manage the lines, Facebook is making plans to reach out to anyone in the business of selling advertising to local merchants.

Dan Levy, director of small business for Facebook, is at the center of this effort. Prepping for his presentation at the 2013 Local Online Advertising Conference next month (see agenda here), Levy told me Facebook is looking for media companies that have “reach and relationships” in the local SMB marketplace.

“We have heard from many innovative companies who are helping small businesses on Facebook,” Levy said. “And their work has happened without any support from us. Obviously we’re interested in their feedback and in figuring out the best way to help them and the many small businesses who want to engage with their customers.”

Facebook also wants to be a good partner company: “The biggest theme is that we want to do this in partnership with others,” Levy added.

But wouldn’t the social media giant rather cut out the middleman, go direct, and let SMBs handle the marketing themselves? “In an ideal world, all SMBs would come to Facebook to manage their own pages,” he said. “But our recognition is that there are folks who have those trusted relationships with SMBs,” and Facebook wants to work with them.

While I don’t know how close this will come to replicating Google’s or Yahoo’s reseller programs, I do know that Facebook is an unstoppable force. Here’s proof:

  • When 1,410 SMBs were asked, “On what types of online advertising do you expect to spend money in 2013?” the largest percentage (29%) responded, “Place ads directly with Facebook.”  (To download the full results of the SMB survey conducted December 2012 to January 2013, click here.)
  • In that same survey, when business owners were asked, “On which social network does your company maintain a site,” 99% of them said Facebook, and the average number of fans per company was more than 1,000.
  • In Facebook’s latest earnings release on Jan. 30, the company said its number of advertiser clients had doubled in the past year and that more than half a million advertisers are now using Facebook’s “promoted posts” tool.

Can Facebook attract and manage multiple sales partners like yellow pages, newspaper, radio, TV, and Internet pure play sellers in the same market? The pieces of the puzzle aren’t in place, but Levy said to expect announcements in the coming months as Facebook unveils them.

I’m thinking that the Facebook’s plan to reach SMBs has some serious legs, maybe even Usain Bolt legs. It could be faster growing and more viable than the reseller programs that Google and Yahoo launched several years ago with media partners and local sellers. And selling guided tours of the Facebook fun house could provide a very comfortable living for anyone who knows and understands the nuances of social media.

Gordon Borrell is CEO of Borrell Associates.