This group of 60 million Facebook users could be the secret to Facebook’s next growth spurt

caption
Facebook Sheryl Sandberg
source
Kimberly White/Getty

Facebook has its eyes set on small businesses.

In the call after its blockbuster Q2 earnings report, COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that there are now more than 60 million monthly active business Pages on Facebook.

But right now, only about 3 million of them spend money with the company every month, making SMBs one of Facebook’s “biggest opportunities” as it looks to the future growth of its advertising business.

Making businesses reliant on Facebook

Facebook envisions a world where small business owners rely on the social network as their complete online presence for spreading information and communicating with their customers.

Facebook’s pitch is that making a Page is much easier than maintaining a website. In order to get the fish monger in Italy or the coffee shop down the street to see the value of a Facebook Page, the company has rolled out a bunch of new tools and capabilities over the last year, the company’s VP of SMB, Dan Levy, tells Business Insider.

“Pages a few years ago were very generic – they looked like user profiles,” he says. “Today, you can really specialize it.”

… then making money off them

Of course, the advertising tools are easy to use too. Levy says that over 80% of Facebook’s new advertisers in Q2 started with simplified products, like boosted posts. Facebook doesn’t ask small businesses to become advertisers. That sounds intimidating. Instead, it says, ‘Hey, maybe you’d like to try to promoting this sale you shared?’

Besides traditional NewsFeed advertising, small businesses are critical to Facebook’s plans to make money off its chat app, Messenger, too.

caption
Facebook VP of SMB Dan Levy
source
Facebook

Levy highlighted another new stat that the company disclosed in its Q2 earnings report: Facebook is now seeing more than 1 billion messages every month between people and businesses.

When Facebook talks about the allure of Messenger, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other execs describe how uncomfortable it is to call businesses to make a reservation or schedule an appointment. Facebook isn’t targeting big brands with its goals for Messenger for businesses: It’s targeting SMBs.

Small budgets, big numbers

While Facebook has become a staple for huge advertisers like Jack In The Box or Wendy’s, its bigger opportunity is reeling in the “hundreds of millions” of small businesses not yet on the platform and making money off the ones it already has. Their budgets are comparatively tiny (it only takes “a few dollars” to boost a Page post), but their scale is enormous.

“We think this is one of the biggest communities of small businesses anywhere in the world,” Levy says. “And we think that’s a great opportunity for Facebook – and those business owners.”