Facebook to Host 5 'Boot Camps' This Summer to Woo Small Businesses

The social media giant is joining forces with Intuit, LegalZoom and Square in a cross-country bid to boost SMB success -- and the ad dollars SMBs spend on Facebook.

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By Kim Lachance Shandrow

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Facebook already racks up some serious advertising dollars from massive corporate companies. Now the social giant has big eyes for big ad bucks from mom and pop shops, too. And it's willing to send them to "boot camp" over the summer to get the money ball rolling.

Mark Zuckerberg's 1.2 billion-member social network announced today that it will host five "Facebook Fit" small business boot camp-style events from early June to early August in partnership with fellow California tech heavies Intuit QuickBooks, LegalZoom and Square.

Related: 10 Advanced Facebook Tips and Tricks

Facebook also tapped small business expert and author Rhonda Abrams and consumer tech TV journalist Mario Armstrong to headline the cross-country SMB outreach tour, which will roll through the following cities:

  • New York (June 3)
  • Miami (June 19)
  • Chicago (July 10)
  • Austin (July 24)
  • Menlo Park (Aug. 5)

"The concept here is get your business in shape," Dan Levy, Facebook's director of small business told Entrepreneur.com. "What we hear from small businesses all the time is they don't have a lot of time, they don't have a lot of money, so we're going to pack in a lot of really useful things into half-day boot camps where they can come out stronger on the other end, whether they're just getting started on Facebook or whether they're pretty experienced, with new tips and ideas from us, from our event partners and from other businesses they meet and network with at the events."

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

It's no coincidence that Facebook Fit attendees will also come out with $50 Facebook ad credits in hand -- perhaps the little nudge they need to start advertising on the world's most popular social online space, or, if they already have, to give it another shot.

"We're obviously there to help small businesses with the marketing elements of growing their business," Levy said. "We think Facebook would be a great partner there."

Levy said there are some 25 million active small business pages on the site right now. Enticing more of them to pump cash into Facebook ads, especially the mobile kind, is becoming increasingly important to the Silicon Valley mammoth, which last year created its first Small and Medium Business Council to help improve its marketing products, and presumably, its SMB market reach, too.

Related: Get Ready for Video Ads in Your Facebook Newsfeed

Each Facebook Fit boot camp costs $25 per person and will feature opening mainstage keynote speeches by Levy himself, followed by breakout sessions on key small business focus areas, like accounting, payments, legal services, and, of course, marketing and advertising on Facebook.

Levy said the term "boot camp" was inspired by the boot camp-style training sessions new hire Facebook engineers attend to "get up to speed quickly." Registration for the event opened this morning.

To reserve your Facebook Fit spot, go to http://fb.me/fit. No pushups or burpees required.

Related: Updated Facebook 'Pages' Allow You to Stack Up Your Competitors' Social Metrics
Kim Lachance Shandrow

Former West Coast Editor

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here

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