Facebook small business workshop both practical, creative

 February 06, 2019

Perhaps nothing has made friends – potential customers, users, consumers and shareholders – more accessible to small business owners and entrepreneurs than Facebook. In fact, more than six in 10 Arkansas small-business owners reported to the company that the platform is “important” to running their businesses. Could that be because nearly 80 percent of Americans use it regularly not only to keep up with friends and relatives, but also to purchase goods and services?

An invitation-only, Facebook Community Boost workshop held in December at The Rep in downtown Little Rock was focused on using the social network’s incredible influence to help grow that sector more, not only within the state but regionally and globally. The social network’s small business marketing team has traveled to 30 states across the country, offering the free workshop in only 50 cities.

While Facebook certainly hopes to create revenue and sell ads, much of the information shared with attendees focused on creating good content, ranging from polls and contests to wacky photos and “how-to” videos of products. The crazier the better in some instances, as long as it engages audiences.

Researchers estimate that 75 percent of content on the web in 2020 will be videos, and Facebook has several free, built-in applications that can make creating and editing carousels of photos and videos easy, with the look of a professional product. While some of that can and should be used in ads, it’s also important to create posts and organically reach existing friends who like and share your business posts with their circle.

The training was practical, with hands-on demonstrations of how to use the features in the Facebook app, using only your smart phone to create dynamic content. This is one of very few workshops I’ve attended during which presenters encouraged attendees to pull out their phones and play.

One session was completely devoted to how to become a supplier for Facebook, which is looking for exceptional minority, women, veteran, LGBT, and disability-owned companies “who are ready to be bold, move fast, be open, build social value and focus on impact.” Like any corporation, they use vendors for office supplies, general contractors, marketers and more.

Facebook Blueprint also offers free, online courses in how to use their marketing tools to grow business. Again, there’s always a call to buy advertising, but there’s good, solid marketing intelligence on how to promote your business app, increase sales online and in-store, create ads, manage ads and measure performance, and even find a “look-alike” audience, people who mirror existing customers.

One amazing tool found within Facebook IQ, crossborderinsightsfinder.com, compares U.S. users to those in other countries. That information can be leveraged across the globe to Facebook’s approximately 2.25 billion community of users. The tool is user-friendly and asks all the right questions to narrow the focus of your campaign, as Facebook wants to make your business more successful.

If you weren’t able to attend, there are still several ways to learn how to use Facebook for your business by going to Facebook.com/business, which includes a curated list of “Top 10 Creative Apps” for for enhancing photos and/or videos, from adding music and text overlays to turning a still photo into a video or GIF.

Lest you forget, Facebook also owns Instagram, which has similar tools at your disposal, although only one billion people use the platform – read that tongue in cheek. The audience is younger and more urban, and the largest number of users fall in the age category of 25-34. However, the most active are in the 18-29 demographic.

The presenters continually encouraged attendees to network and meet other local business owners, in order to create partnerships and grow. The Facebook team used several local vendors to put on the workshop, including a caterer, photographer, A/V equipment and sound, in addition to temp agency personnel.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that networking and partnering is some of the best counsel we offer through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and we have teams dedicated to helping facilitate that. Small businesses are the engine that keep the Arkansas economy moving forward, and we have programs in place to help them grow revenue, increase efficiencies and on-going professional development. If that sounds like something your small business needs, contact us through ArkansasEDC.com or call 1-800-ARKANSAS.

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Blog post contributed by:
Brandi Hinkle, MBA, APR
Director of Communications
Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Little Rock, Arkansas


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