Facebook Fit boot camps are getting a major makeover for 2015.
Besides a name change—the educational and networking meetups for small businesses is now called Boost Your Business—the program is "bigger and more global than ever," Bess Yount, SMB community engagement lead at Facebook told Small Business Computing. This time, "four marquee events and 30-plus pop-up events" will help local small businesses glean social marketing and customer engagement directly from Facebook executives, the company's partners and social media experts.
Facebook's Director of Small Business, and the former COO of Bonobos, Jonathan Czaja, will be on-hand to dole out helpful insight. Joining him is Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith, author of The New Relationship Marketing.
Facebook's small business event calendar is "adapting this year" based on feedback from last year's boot camps, said Yount. "Businesses really love the opportunity to network with [and] hear from businesses just like them." So this year, the events will focus on delivering "real opportunities to network."
Facebook Hits the Road
Four half-day Boost Your Business events kick off in San Diego, Calif. on June 4, followed by Minneapolis, Minn. (July 30), Nashville, Tenn. (Aug. 27) and Boston, Mass. (Oct. 15). Tickets cost $25, easily recouped with the $50 Facebook ad voucher the company awards each ticket holder. Attendees will meet with representatives from Facebook partners MailChimp, Shopify, Visa and Zenefits.
The Boost Your Business pop-up events "are really focused on local communities," said Yount. The free, two-hour events connect small business owners with local business leaders, decision makers and small business organizations. Attendees can also learn about Facebook best practices, smart strategies and successful outcomes in a presentation geared toward helping entrepreneurs hone their social media savvy to better reach and engage their intended audiences.
Five pop-up events have already taken place in May, in places like Fayetteville, NC and Bakersfield, Calif. Facebook recommends keeping an eye on this website for future events to pop up.
40 Million Small Business Pages Served
"Businesses are increasingly turning to Facebook," Yount said. In just over ten months, the social media site gained 10 million active small business Pages, for a total of 40 million. To keep that momentum going, Facebook is rolling out a new feature that provides small businesses with the help they need to advertise on the platform.
Facebook boasts a massive audience of 936 million daily active users on average, as of March 2015. Nearly 800,000 people engage with the social network on a mobile device daily. On a monthly basis, those figures balloon to 1.44 billion and 1.25 billion active users, respectively.
So it's no surprise that small businesses owners want to promote their companies on Facebook. More than two million businesses use Facebook advertising. Unfortunately, not everyone is a pro at setting up an ad campaign.
"Business people want more support, and a lot of them really want to talk to someone live," said Yount. Facebook got the message and launched a new online chat support option for Facebook for Business users.
A follow-up to this year's release of the Ads Manager App, new small business marketing resources and tools for creating professional quality ads, online support provides live, one-to-one access to the company's trained Ads Specialists. Between the real-time chat and screen-sharing capabilities, you can get your questions answered quickly and interactively.
Live chat support is available in the United States, the U.K., and Ireland. Facebook plans to roll out the feature to other countries later this year. Currently, it's available on the desktop version of Facebook, but the company is working on mobile and phone options.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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