How Facebook’s New Small-Business Tools Can Help Retailers

Facebook wants to make it easier for small businesses to leverage its platform, and on Tuesday, it announced a new slate of tools that should allow them to do so.

At an event for Small Business Week, the social media giant introduced a product called Automated Ads that it says will simplify the process of running campaigns for businesses that don’t necessarily have the technical know-how (or time) to craft strategic advertising plans on their own. The tool will pull from companies’ existing images, as well as information they provide about their goals — whether that’s promoting an Instagram post, generating awareness or driving purchases on their e-commerce site.

The owner of a small boutique with only a brick-and-mortar presence might want to display ads to local Facebook users in her store’s target demographic, for instance. After she inputs information such as how she does business (“in person”), the tool can recommend an audience, a call-to-action button (“get directions” or “learn more,” for instance) and a budget that will help her achieve her desired results.

The system also offers the same beta testing process used by major advertisers on the platform, creating up to six versions of the ad and providing analytics on which performs best, then notifying business owners of potential changes they could make to improve their effectiveness.

The company, which says that 90 million small businesses use its platform, also announced more streamlined video editing capabilities, which are designed to be accessible even to less tech-savvy entrepreneurs. The features include image and text overlay, automated cropping for mobile and video trimming, allowing retailers to launch video campaigns from within Facebook’s Ad Manager.

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