Facebook is continuing to add small- and medium-sized businesses at a strong clip this year. The social network now has a total of 15 million Pages run by small businesses globally, up from 13 million at the end of 2012.
Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small business, revealed the updated figure, speaking Tuesday at Borrell Associates’ Local Online Advertising conference in New York. At a presentation in December, he said local businesses are playing a key part in Pages growth, with active local pages up 40% in 2012.
Levy provided other updates related to small business activity on Facebook. The number of entities using Facebook’s Page Manager app, for instance, which lets users update and manage their Page remotely has climbed to 8 million from 5 million in the last three months.
When it comes to advertising, he said 500,000 Pages are now using Facebook’s Promoted Posts to highlight page content, up from 300,000 in December. A quarter are new advertisers and three-quarters of the ads are bought by repeat customers.
Promoted Posts haven’t been without controversy. Since last fall, Page administrators have reported a loss of reach from organic Page posts. That’s led to claims Facebook is suppressing organic posts in the news feed to boost sales of Promoted Posts. Asked about that issue during the Q&A session following his talk, Levy insisted Facebook isn’t trying to force companies to pay for posts.
“Promoted Posts were created to make things simpler for businesses,” he said. “It did absolutely nothing to change the organic reach that those already had.” Levy explained Facebook optimizes organic posts in the news feed to show content they’re most likely to engage with. The onus is on businesses to create compelling, relevant Page content to spur engagement.
Levy’s comments came on the heels of a Facebook blog post yesterday disputing that its EdgeRank algorithm suppresses organic posts in favor of paid ones. “In fact, the News Feed algorithm is separate from the advertising algorithm in that we don’t replace the most engaging posts in News Feed with sponsored ones,” it stated.
Levy acknowledged the challenge for businesses in driving interaction, pointing out that more than 70% of small business Pages managed by third parties have little or no engagement. “Content is really hard to scale,” he said. But Levy assured that Facebook is working on providing SMBs more self-serve tools to help simplify maintaining a robust presence on the site.
He also encouraged audience members to offer their feedback to Facebook directly.
"Small Businesses photo from Shutterstock"