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Earlier this week Facebook announced an educational initiative – which it calls “Small Business Boost” – aimed at helping small businesses optimize their individual or Fan Pages so as to better target customers using Facebook’s self-serve advertising platform, or, to put it another way, to encourage small businesses to spend money on Facebook ads.

This attempt by Facebook should not be easily dismissed as the social media giant is launching its initiative in conjunction with both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. The program is due to start later this month (October 2011) as Facebook plans to sponsor a series of educational “road shows” in cities across the US, reaching its apex next January when Facebook will offer a $50 ad credit to approximately 200,000 businesses. Do the math and you’ll see that this will set Facebook back $10 million.

Despite this grand effort by Facebook, they face an uphill battle trying to get small and medium-size businesses to advertise on social media as eMarketer, a digital marketing research and analysis company, reported that only 44% of such businesses use social media as a marketing tool and of those 59% spent less than $100 on advertising/marketing efforts in this area.

In addition, AdAge Digital reports that even though there are 9.2 million small businesses in the US that have Facebook pages, but less than 3.2 million of those actively engaged with their page. Nevertheless, the higher-ups in Facebook are optimistic. “We know that small businesses who use web technology grow more than twice as quickly, bring in twice the revenue, and create twice the jobs as small businesses who don’t,” said David Fischer, Facebook’s vice president of advertising and global operations.

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