Three small business owners sitting at a table during a Meta Small Business Studios event.
Meta Boost Small Business Studios, an initiative launched by Meta in summer 2022, aims to give business owners tips and tools to improve their social media marketing. — Meta

Why it matters:

  • Being able to connect with customers online and through social media has become a crucial marketing tool for small businesses.
  • Nearly 40% of small businesses surveyed cited lack of digital marketing knowledge and tools as a top challenge for their companies. Close to one-third said they have trouble building a visible brand online.
  • Small businesses now can use free online workshops and in-person events to improve their social media presence.

Meta, the social media giant formerly known as Facebook, reached out to small business owners last year to learn more about the challenges they faced. It turned out that one of the biggest pain points for business owners was figuring out how to create a viable social media presence and learning how to use it as a marketing tool.

That input led Meta this summer to unveil Meta Boost Small Business Studios, an initiative aimed at giving business owners tips and tools to improve their social media marketing.

A survey by online marketing tech firm Semrush confirms that social media skills are a top concern of small business owners. That survey found that 40% of owners are worried they lack digital marketing knowledge and experience, and one-third said building a brand presence online is one of their biggest challenges.

The Meta initiative includes ongoing online classes and support, as well as free, in-person events for small business owners in five cities around the country.

“We really saw that our small businesses needed advice on how to create compelling content and how to develop a creative strategy, Judy Toland, vice president, global customer marketing, at Meta, told CO—.

Some 200 million businesses currently use Meta’s free platforms and tools to connect with customers, with about 10 million doing paid advertising on the platforms, Toland said.

Short, virtual workshops on topics from building a Facebook business presence to creating Instagram Reels videos

Questions businesses have about using Meta platforms can range from the basic – How should I post? What should I post? – to more complicated queries on video creation or digital advertising budgets.

They encompass “all the things that you as a small business owner may not have the time or the wherewithal to source, but you would love to be able to figure out, to utilize our free and paid tools better,” Toland said.

Meta has launched a virtual learning hub online with resources including:

  • Build Your Brand workshop, which focuses on how to establish a presence on Facebook and Instagram and how to use those platforms to connect with customers;
  • Reels School, lessons in how to use the short-form video platform on Facebook and Instagram;
  • Photography Workshop, with tips on how to create the best images for viewing on mobile devices and as marketing tools; and
  • One-on-one virtual support sessions, offering live customer support from Meta experts. Business owners can sign up for 30-minute sessions.

All of the virtual lessons are designed to provide answers to specific issues in a short amount of time. “They’re 10 minutes long, 16 minutes long, 7 minutes long,” Toland said. “We know through our research, and just by talking with the small businesses we engage with across the country, that time is of the essence — they need to learn something right now, very quickly,” she said.

[Read: 3 Simple (Yet Effective) Facebook and Instagram Tools That Enhance Customer Relationships]

We really saw that our small businesses needed advice on how to create compelling content and how to develop a creative strategy.

Judy Toland, vice president, global customer marketing, Meta

Adding in-person events where local business owners share success stories

In addition to the virtual workshops, Meta decided to host free in-person training and networking events to help small businesses learn from others in their communities.

Meta has already held in-person events in Detroit and Columbus, and has events scheduled in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 21-22, Austin, Texas, on September 28-29, and San Diego, California, on October 12-13.

The initial in-person event in Detroit drew a full-capacity crowd, Toland said. One particularly popular session, she said, was the “How I Did It” panel, where local business owners shared success stories about how they built their brands online.

[Read: 5 Tech Trends Changing the Way We Buy Fashion and Food to Home Goods and Travel Jaunts]

 Two men on stage at a Meta Small Business Studios event.
In addition to virtual workshops, Meta has decided to host free in-person training and networking events to help small businesses learn from others in their communities. — Meta

Tips for entrepreneurs seeking to gain traction for a budding business idea on social media

For business owners or entrepreneurs with an idea for a brand who are just getting started building a social media presence, Toland shared these tips:

  • Create a business page for your company, or create a page for your idea, and ask people in your social network to like the page and interact with it.
  • If your idea or business targets a certain community, join related communities or groups on the Meta platforms to share ideas and spread the word about your business.
  • Use the Small Business Studios and Reels School lessons to learn how to create engaging videos that will draw customers. Create videos that explain your business, show the personal side, and be authentic.

“If people are not aware of your business, then it’s very hard to grow your business,” Toland said. For some new owners, the first hurdle, she said “is just getting started.”

“In some instances, they just don’t know where to get started. And so, these Small Business Studios are there to help them,” she said.

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