This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com.
Yet back in 2010 (a simpler time for both sites, pre-IPO’s), both sites were generally untapped when it came to ad revenue and mass appeal for small businesses. As both sites continued to grow and shift their scope, all of that quickly changed.
The challenges each site faced were essentially different; Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook were out to show that his “social network” was more than just an experiment; meanwhile, Twitter was looking to prove that it could be a platform more meaningful than trending topics and celebrity gossip.
As both social giants look to roll out new ad platforms in the coming months, now is as good a time as any to reflect on what they’ve done to meet the needs of today’s businesses. Both sites have faced criticism from SMBs in the past; however, both for completely different reasons.
The Trouble with Twitter
The viability of Twitter as a money-making resource for SMBs has been up for debate for the past couple of years. While there’s little doubt that small businesses should have some sort of Twitter presence due to the ease of access, simplicity, and potential quick engagement with customers (both potential and existing), there’s no denying that ROI has always been a question mark for small business owners. Nobody’s contesting the fact that Twitter can be wildly entertaining; however, in a business landscape where dollars are tight and we don’t have much to spare in terms of resources, how much time and money can we really expect from the Twittersphere?
Likewise, Facebook awkwardly handled SMBs during the initial introduction of business-specific pages. In fact, their introduction coming so late in the game (circa-2010) represents a rather persistent problem that small business owners have faced with Facebook; that is, how they handle businesses.
We have to take into consideration, however, that Mark Zuckerberg never intended Facebook to represent some sort of immaculate business model. Prior to Facebook’s IPO, Zuckerberg sent a letter to investors in 2012 in which he said the following:
“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us.”
Zuckerberg was infamously hesitant when it came to advertising, dating back to Facebook’s earliest days when the young founder was still coding in his college dorm. Regardless, Zuckerberg quickly came around when Facebook’s public performance wasn’t meeting expectations. He needed the support of business, and fast.
Now we have two social giants looking to better serve the business community and their needs. A win-win situation, right? Looking at what each of them are planning to roll out in the coming weeks and months, we can assume so.
Facebook recently announced the roll-out of a new right-hand column ad spot in addition to their recently revised business pages. While Facebook’s company pages have been a work-in-progress for quite some time, the right-hand ad represents Zuckerberg’s attempt to step it up and breathe new life into a design that’s been accused of becoming stale. Furthermore, the larger size of these new ads could cause marketers to dish out more dough for such a coveted spot. With the new design boasting three times the former click-through rate, we’ll see if Facebook can back up the numbers.
Meanwhile, Twitter has some other tricks up their sleeve. The company plans to roll out roughly fifteen new ad products over the course of the next six months. This signals that Twitter is still trying to figure out how to get it right when it comes to commerce, but it also shows that they mean business. As Twitter has struggled post-IPO and is still looking to turn a profit, they certainly aren’t afraid to experiment and hopefully hit the target.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to SMBs, both Facebook and Twitter have a bit of spotty history. Regardless, the two social giants stand tall and small businesses are constantly looking for ways to get on their shoulders. Only time will tell what these new ad-rollouts mean in terms of dollars and cents; however, they most definitely illustrate the untapped potential when it comes to social media and small businesses.
Image via Flickr
About the Author
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.