Google and Facebook open online resource centers for small businesses

By | Posted September 12th, 2011

Internet behemoths Google and Facebook recently launched resource centers to help small businesses.  The two companies are competing against each other, hoping to get small businesses to use their services exclusively. Let’s examine what each one has to offer.

Learn with Google –

This online resource center divides its content into four sections: Starting a Business, Marketing a Business Online, Running a Business Online, and Tools.  Within each section is a selection of instructional videos and helpful worksheets.

The first video in Starting a Business discusses why being online matters.  Is this really necessary?  For business owners in the 21st century (who are watching a video online) is this really still a consideration?  We recommend skipping that one, but the next two are pretty helpful.  One discusses creating an online marketing plan and offers an accompanying worksheet. The worksheet is quite good and helps aspiring business owners to clarify their mission statement, create an action plan, get started with ads, and assign a budget.

Next, Google offers instructions on how to use Google Places to reach local customers.  As Google rolls out Google Deals nationally (currently only available in 5 cities), Google Places will become a key tactic for small businesses to reach customers efficiently and cheaply. Again, a worksheet is offered, but does not offer much detail when compared to the online marketing worksheet.

The next section, Marketing Your Business, is basically an online course in Google’s product, Ad Words, and advice on how to optimize business landing pages for Search.  This section seems like a dumping ground for a lot of content about these products, but it not very well curated. It may be overwhelming to the Ad Words novice.  Still, there’s a lot of great information if you have the time to sort through it.

The final two sections, Running a Business Online and Tools, are the weakest in terms of content. However, both provide useful information about what apps are available for businesses and a quick introduction to Google’s advertising products.

Facebook for Business –

Most of Facebook’s business offerings have been around for a couple years, but as separate services.  Wisely, about six months ago, Facebook finally organized all their various services for business into one online feature.

In the Facebook for Business section, you can learn how to create a business page, how to use Facebook ads to reach customers, how to engage new customers, and content planning.  Each section contains easy to read instructions and offers real world examples to pattern a business on.

Overall, small business owners should take advantage of both resources and use the suggestions therein if they support overall business goals.