As businesses anxiously await the launch of business profiles on Google+, Facebook is reminding small businesses of the power of its social media dominance (it's up to 800 million users now).
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook has teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business to launch a program that includes giving away $10 million in advertising credits to small businesses. The publication reports:
The new program will officially kick off next month with a cross-country road show in coordination with state and local chambers of commerce and regional NFIB offices. At locations still to be determined, Facebook officials and members of the two business groups will meet with local businesses to discuss best practices for marketing to customers through Facebook.
Then in January, Facebook will begin giving away $50 per business in free advertising credits to as many as 200,000 small businesses. Such companies will be able to redeem the discount on a first-come, first-served basis when purchasing ads on the social-networking site, which can be targeted to specific users as a business sees fit.
Sheryl Sandberg recently did this video interview with USA Today talking about how Facebook creates jobs and how great Facebook is for small businesses.
"When you look at small businesses, there are probably fourteen to fifteen million active small businesses in the country, and we think over nine million of those are using Facebook to connect directly to consumers," she said.
"One thing that makes Facebook easier for small businesses to use, is we're not asking them to use a new product," she added. "Most people who are attached to the web actually have a Facebook profile, and if you look at a page, which is what they tend to use to market their small business, it works pretty much the same way. So if you're on Facebook and you're posting something to your friends….they might post, 'hey, we're having a sale today.'"
Google, on the other hand, is asking people to use a new product. Recent estimates indicate that Google+ is up to around 43.4 million users so far. Last week, they announced a bunch of new features and opened it up to the public (as opposed to invite-only).
Google+ has a long, long way to go to achieve Facebook-like user numbers, but the fact that it's tied (and will be tied even more) to other Google products businesses are already using is a key factor.