Ad Networks

SMBs: A Social Platform’s Next Challenge

jayne260Facebook and Twitter have finally gained traction with agencies and large advertisers. Now, social platforms are looking to SMBs as the next client to bring onto their platforms. Social platforms are trying to solve this initiative with self-serve, dashboards, and measurement tools. However, it wasn’t that long ago that social platforms had a hard time bringing on agencies and brands.  Social platforms came out with an “agencies will conform to our ways” approach when first bringing monetization offerings to market. However, social platforms soon realized that the industry they were trying to change was too old and had too much buying power to concede. Collectively, SMBs are the same – old and with a lot of buying power. So what should social platforms do to cater to SMBs?

Speak the language

Social platforms learned to speak agency speak to drive adoption. SMBs don’t speak in CPMs and even GRPs. They speak in cost per unit and are more conscientious about how a dollar of advertising directly impacts revenue and expenditures. SMBs now spend less money advertising in local newspapers and more money in online ads (and namely Facebook ads). Facebook is the new local ads platform for SMBs trying to gain efficient reach for the short term. However, Facebook along with other social platforms are positioned to be the new SaaS for SMBs in the long term. SMBs see social platforms as a SaaS, not a publisher or even a channel and social platforms need to transition from agency mode to SMB mode to accommodate.  Social platforms need to speak in terms of solutions and business metrics not media metrics and features.

Operational Efficiency

Since SMBs think of social platforms as more than just ads – they need to have self serve for more than just ads. SMBs don’t know how to traffic ads, the nuances of third party data providers, and where to put pixels on their sites in most cases. Social platforms have done a great job at creating workflows to accommodate all levels of expertise when it comes to ads, but what about the other stuff? Social platforms need to make it operationally efficient for SMBs to use their self-serve platforms. One of the drawbacks of being a SMB is that they’re competing for attention against agencies and brands that spend millions of dollars. However, SMBs are loyal, consistent spenders, and eager to test. They don’t need portfolio management of sites if everything can be accomplished under one hood. That also goes for payment processing, inventory fulfillment, CRM, and everything in between to run a business. Now we’re talking about the cloud and SaaS not in media offerings. Social platforms need to create self-serve for all the other components to service SMBs – not just ads. The average SMB spends around 2% on advertising. The rest accounts for salaries, rent, IT, etc. Social platforms that can integrate easily or build tools for SMBs to accommodate the “everything but Ads” components of an SMB’s operation will be the platform of choice.


Case studies are great, and webinars are a nice way to entertain you while eating lunch, but social platforms need to do a better job of educating SMBs. Descriptions of ad formats and positioning of products are riddled with industry buzzwords. Also, SMBs need to understand the nuances of the platform they’re looking into investing in as well as “what not to do” as much as the best practices. SMBs will waste more money replicating best practices than they will by learning the failures from other advertisers in their same industry, geo, etc.

SMBs is an underserved group looking for solutions to help them not only understand and leverage ads on social platforms, but to help them drive their businesses. Social platforms replaced the bowling alleys, student unions, park squares, and other community platforms of a town that traditionally served as a SMBs way to connect to its customers. Social platforms are now replacing the digital aspect of not only their advertising, but also their operations and platforms that recognize this will have the upper hand in scaling this powerful group.


SMB Resources:

Facebook Best Practices Videos:

Twitter SMB Hub:

DoubleClick for SMB:

Learn about APIs to leverage FB and Twitter more effectively:

Brian Moran’s SMB hub:


Jayne is a contributor to The Makegood and leads Business Development for Adaptly.