"More than 1 billion people on Facebook are connected to a small business in another country," Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said in a statement to The Post. "As technology brings the world closer, it can also help businesses grow.”
posted about the feature on her personal page, weaving in some personal background about her great-grandparents' paint store in New York, and the traditional limits of small-business ownership. "Over time they grew their business, attracting new customers through word-of-mouth and local marketing," she said of her forebears. "But they never would have imagined reaching customers internationally."
Facebook's new tool is, however, aimed at doing just that: providing the tools to help mom-and-pop stores the chance to reach a much wider audience.
Businesses can use the new feature by going to Facebook's Lookalike Audiences tool, which recommended new audiences to business owners in their own countries but will now also offer information on international audiences.
That saves small-business owners some time by offering a shortcut through the arduous process of market research. Right now, businesses have to guess which countries may have audiences that match their businesses and then manually find audiences in those countries. Facebook's tool aims to flip that process and, therefore, make it more efficient.
Facebook has also updated its location-targeting tools to allow business owners to serve ads to a worldwide region or trade zone, and then will automatically adjust the campaign to serve ads to the countries that offer the best return.
According to the company, more than 60 percent of U.S. Facebook users are connected to at least one business outside the country. (The same holds true for other countries, the company said: 60 percent in Brazil, 70 percent in Germany, 70 percent in the U.K., 40 percent in India, 75 percent in Australia.) And, the company said, more than a half-billion people outside the United States are connected to U.S. businesses on Facebook.
For Facebook users, this means that you may see more ads from businesses and organizations in other countries.
But the benefit will be for small businesses such as Little Passports, a company Facebook highlighted in its press materials for the announcement. The firm, co-founded by two moms, makes educational tools to teach kids about world cultures. Amy Norman, the company's co-founder, said the firm initially shipped only to the United States and Canada but wanted to expand after customers reached out to the firm asking them to ship to other countries.
"When we were looking at which international markets we wanted to expand into," Norman said, they looked at everything from the structure of the postal service to the median income. "We needed to validate that, so we looked to Facebook," she said.
Using Facebook's tools, Norman said, the firm was able to quickly test the appeal of its products in several markets without breaking the bank.
"As a small-to-medium-sized business, we have to make sure that every dollar we spend counts," Norman said.