Facebook just passed three million advertisers -- here's why it's doubling down on small businesses

On Facebook, you’ll find business Pages for cabinet makers, cupcake bakers, people crafting flower arrangements shaped like teddy bears, and so much more.

And three million of those businesses now actively advertises with Facebook, up 50% from last year, with small businesses representing the “vast majority” of that number, according to a new company blog post.

More than 70% of those advertisers come from outside the United States and Southeast Asia has seen the most growth.

While trumpeting that milestone, Facebook also points out that it still has a long way to go. Even if all three million of its advertisers were small businesses, that would still only be a tiny fraction of the more than 50 million that have established Pages on the site.

Facebook has spent a lot of time recently going after small-to-medium sized businesses

In the last year, Facebook totally revamped its Pages product to add features like appointment booking, better inventory listing options, and easier formats for things like hours of operation. It also started to let businesses communicate with people via private messages.

For a while now, the company ardently made the pitch to small businesses that creating a Page is the easiest way to establish an online presence, especially on mobile, instead of creating their own websites (or focusing on other services like Google Local or Yelp). And it’s trying to get those businesses to fork over their marketing dollars.

“We focus a lot on making Facebook the best minute and dollar that these businesses spend,” Facebook’s SMB exec, Dan Levy, tells Business Insider, “Through better targeting, so they’re not wasting money reaching the wrong people, and through better measurements, so they can attribute real sales growth to what we’re doing.”

Facebook plans to start letting businesses that have used its chat service, Messenger, to communicate with customers pay to send out sponsored messages in the second quarter, according to leaked documents obtained by TechCrunch’s Josh Constine and Jon Russell.

And a new stat from Facebook’s blog post shows that many businesses would be eligible, because more than 20 million Pages use Messenger.

Levy demurred on questions about its specific messaging plans, but said that messaging volume is up 100% in the last year.

“People are telling me that it’s like the new phone,” Levy says. “Messaging is the first natural communication that people think to use.”

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