#SFSW15: How Pinterest, Twitter and Nextdoor Think About SMBs

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A new generation of social media giants are betting big on Main Street. During the morning session of Street Fight Summit West in San Francisco, representatives from Twitter, Pinterest, and Nextdoor discussed programs designed to engage small businesses within local communities for future generations of the web.

For these firms, small business is big business. But even Facebook, the largest player in the space has struggled to crack the local business market.

Consider Nextdoor, the neighborhood social network that recently raised $110 million. The company is in the process of developing its monetization strategy, and Dan Clancy, vice president at Nextdoor, talked about the challenge of expanding its merchant access to users while maintaining the degree of privacy that help the business succeed as a consumer product.

Clancy, a former NASA engineer, said that the company’s users often overlook the fact that Nextdoor is a business in its own right. To nurture expansion Nextdoor has recently launched a pilot program in Marin County, California to offers small local businesses the opportunity to reach their users–if those neighbors choose to opt in.

Pinterest, the social scrapbook phenomenon, is already well on its way. The company rolled out a self-service ad product for local businesses last summer, and Joel Meek, the head of small business at the company, said during the session that over half of the merchants on the platform consider themselves local.

With Pinterest’s recent surge of funding they seem less driven to generate revenue immediately through SMBs ads targeting local community users. But Meek says that the site’s data can still be helpful for merchants. For instance, merchants can identify potential customers through the types of geotagging data embedded in their pins. If a person tags certain types of foods or products this reveals valuable information about their users that is useful to local businesses that may be selling products or services they might need.

Meanwhile, Twitter is the farthest along of the new social media company. The company has clearly defined how to monetize their outreach to customers for local businesses and communities through ads, and a big part of that strategy is to bring the tools developed for brands to smaller firms, says Anne Mercogliano. She pointed to the value of integrating with users through Quick Promote, their ad program that allows companies to reach a wider audience with just “two clicks.”

Caitlin Maynard is a contributor to Street Fight.