The Facebook Fit Tour Is More Than Just a Business Bootcamp

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

A team from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is hitting the road this summer to help businesses become more familiar with the company’s advertisement and analytics tools. The Facebook Fit tour is being called a “bootcamp for small businesses,” and aims to familiarize business owners not only with Facebook’s advertising options, but also legal services and financial management. The tour kicks off in early June and will stop by five locations across the country, including New York, Miami, Austin, Chicago, and Facebook’s home of Menlo Park, California.

The tour will also include teams from LegalZoom, Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU), and Square, which will assist Facebook in guiding business owners through the multiple online tools at their disposal. There will be a speaker as well, notably author Rhonda Abrams and Facebook’s Global Small Business team leader Dan Levy. All in all, the tour is shaping up to be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and business professionals to network, get some face time with new technology, and keep up with the latest trends in social media marketing.

But why is Facebook doing this, exactly?

It looks like the bootcamp itself, which might actually provide some valuable information to those who seek it, is most likely a sales pitch camouflaged as a learning experience. Would a company like Facebook really be willing to cling to tactics employed by timeshare companies to lure business owners into hearing about their ad offerings? In the wake of some distressing revelations about the effectiveness of their ads over the past couple of years, they just might.

The tour might also be a response to Facebook’s own price raises on ads. There are examples of big companies, including General Motors (NYSE:GM), which at one point had completely stopped running campaigns altogether (although they have since returned.) While Facebook’s bread and butter is securing the advertising dollars of small and medium-sized businesses, many of whom have found that the money they are putting in is not having the organic reach business owners hoped they would. There are reports that Facebook is slashing the organic page reach down to 1 or 2 percent, meaning if you are a page owner with 4,000 likes, your posts will only reach 40 of your fans — and that’s if they happen to see it at all.

Not only are companies exploring other avenues to spend their marketing budgets due to the perceived ineffectiveness of social media advertising, but Facebook also decided to bump up the price of their options. There are some companies that will keep pouring money into its Facebook pages no matter what the platform is doing, but it’s not hard to imagine the news would be a big turn-off to companies still on the fence.

The sponsors coming out on the road with the Facebook bootcamp have a vested interested in getting valuable face-time with small business owners as well. All three — Square, Intuit, and LegalZoom — are companies that make products specifically targeted toward small and medium-sized businesses. The Facebook Fit tour simply offers up the perfect marketing opportunity to hook entrepreneurs on their products.

This is simply the latest swing by a digital company at cracking a large and lucrative small business market. The fact that many entrepreneurs are reluctant to spend money on digital ads can be chalked up to a number of things, like time and budget constraints, and simply being inexperienced with the platforms. According to ABC News, Internet2Go Analyst Greg Sterling says this is the crux of the issue. “Many of them are struggling just to provide regular content updates or to understand how to use social media, let alone become masters of social media advertising,” he said.

Will Facebook’s advertising bootcamp be a hit? It very well could, as it provides a great opportunity for business owners to mingle, network, and explore new marketing options. But don’t take the presumed innocence of the event at face value. Business owners who plan on attending could come away satisfied, but don’t expect the pitch-free event.

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