Trying to whip small businesses into shape, Facebook plans to host a five-city “boot camp” this summer.
The “Facebook Fit” camps will focus on various strategies -- like advertising on Facebook -- for small businesses to improve their fortunes.
Dan Levy, Facebook's director of small business, said the idea for the camps came out of more modest efforts to connect with small businesses. Among other issues, Levy said small businesses are most in need of services and information related to “payments, legal services and financial management.
"When we held our first SMB Council a couple of months ago, one of the things that SMBs told us is that many of them were teaching other SMBs about Facebook," Levy said on Tuesday. "We saw that there was a strong community element among SMBs and thought it would be great to create a program where we go directly into communities to provide more of a face to Facebook."
To meet this demand, executives from Intuit QuickBooks, LegalZoom and Square are expected to be on hand, along with Rhonda Abrams -- author of “The Successful Business Plan" -- and tech expert Mario Armstrong.
Expecting upwards of 700 attendees, each camp will be held in partnership with chamber of commerce organizations in New York City, Miami, Chicago, Austin and Facebook’s hometown, Menlo Park, CA. Facebook is also trying to line up local policymakers for select camps.
The social giant has a lot riding on the success of small businesses. Indeed, the Pages of local business are responsible for more than 645 million viewers -- and 13 million comments -- in an average week, by the company’s estimate.
Among other efforts, Facebook continues to appeal to SMBs with better ad targeting options.
The strategy appears to be paying off. According to recent findings from Borrell Associates, 83% of SMBs already use Facebook, and that number will only increase.
“Google appears have topped out [among SMBs], while the roots of Facebook just seem to be getting deeper and deeper into digital culture,” Greg Harmon, senior research analyst at Borrell Associates, told Online Media Daily late last year.