Facebook Ireland has launched a digital skills initiative that will help to train more than 10,000 small businesses hit by Covid-19.
As part of the Boost with Facebook programme, the social media company will help businesses grow their online footprint, establish an online shop front, connect with new customers and reach new audiences.
Retail and tourism will be given specific training, with Facebook partnering with Retail Excellence for a training event on June 24th on how to find new customers and create a virtual storefront for products and services. In September, a similar session for the tourism sector will take place.
The announcement comes following a report from Facebook that showed 62 per cent of Irish businesses that remained open during the pandemic took a hit on sales, with 25 per cent reducing staff.
Ecommerce has surged during the pandemic, with Irish retailers showing growth of 160 per cent in 2020, compared with 32 per cent per annum growth experienced in 2017 to 2019.
“Our research shows that SMEs have suffered during the pandemic, which is why helping to drive their recovery is crucial. Business owners in Ireland are learning to embrace the benefits that digital and social media channels can play in growing and driving sales,” David Harris, director of global business at Facebook.
“People are now buying directly through social media with 8 in 10 Instagram users discovering new products or services on the platform. However, for some business owners, the idea of pivoting to online retail can seem daunting.”
Facebook previously announced a €4.7 million grant to small and medium sized enterprises in Ireland that included advertising credits.
The company has gone head-to-head with tech giant Apple in recent months over the latter’s plans to make consumers more aware of ad tracking by apps such as Facebook. In its latest operating system update, iOS 14.5, Apple added a requirement for apps to ask permission from users to track their data.
Facebook and other companies reliant on data to personalise ads have pushed back against the move, with Facebook taking out full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal criticising Apple.
Facebook claimed it was standing up for small businesses, and that Apple’s move would be “devastating” to those businesses. However, the ad tracking notifications have been broadly welcomed by privacy advocates.