Technology is helping small businesses become large and local businesses become global, says Facebook's head of Taiwan and Hong Kong, Fei Yu
The global economy is undergoing a digital transformation, and it's happening at breakneck speed. Technology – especially mobile – is creating more opportunities for businesses to find more customers anywhere in the world. Economic activity is increasingly driven by the everyday online interactions among people and businesses.
With nearly 2.1 billion people using Facebook every month, Facebook has been bringing the world closer together for more than a decade, enabling those online interactions that drive the digital economy's growth.
The digital economy is taking shape and undermining conventional approaches to doing business, and how consumers obtain information, products and services. As more and more people turn to the web and their phones to discover and connect with businesses, it's crucial that businesses have a mobile presence. That can be difficult and expensive – particularly for small to medium-sized enterprises, which are often strapped for resources.
SMEs are the backbone of our economy: according to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, SMEs account for more than 97% of all enterprises and employ more than half of the workforce across its 21 member economies. As at September 2017, there were about 330,000 SMEs in Hong Kong, providing jobs for more than 1.3 million people. This is why at Facebook, we're constantly evolving our solutions to help companies succeed in the digital era, so that small businesses become large and local businesses become global.
Seeding success through education
Education is an important step as businesses decide to expand operations and hire new employees. In fact, one thing we consistently hear from small businesses is how much they value education. In the digital age, online education resources enable small businesses to flourish.
As part of the support we provide to SMEs, Facebook has a self-learning solution for SME owners and marketers – Facebook Blueprint, which offers a series of free, self-paced online courses and webinars on the best practices of Facebook marketing. Blueprint levels the playing field for companies wishing to grow using technology, and helps businesses learn more about how to take their brand global on Facebook. Since Blueprint started in 2015, nearly 2 million people have signed up in more than 150 countries, with more than 1 million of them being entrepreneurs. This year, we plan to work with local partners to train more SMEs, and Facebook Blueprint will be a key part of our training programs.
Bringing creative ideas to life
We know technology has drastically changed the customer journey – gone are the days when a company would wait for customers to come knocking on their door; the most successful companies proactively approach the right customers. No matter how revolutionary or creative, a product isn’t truly successful until it finds the right customers.
One of the most common questions we get asked is: “What does it take to make a great ad?” It can be daunting and difficult for SMEs to find the resources to build ads, which is why Facebook has launched Mobile Studio and Creative Hub to show businesses how they can create great ads on mobile.
As part of our online resources for businesses, Mobile Studio offers a range of simple and practical ideas and tools that businesses can immediately use to tell their stories on mobile, such as tips on how to turn existing assets into effective mobile creative, how to shoot videos from scratch, and top 10 most useful apps for businesses.
Expanding across borders
More than 1.2 billion people on Facebook are connected to a small business in another country. As more people around the world come online, businesses have an opportunity to reach new customers in different cities, regions or countries. We want to help all businesses grow internationally, that’s why we offer resources and solutions to help them expand across the globe. Businesses can use various tools from Facebook to leverage their existing customers and reach similar customers in new countries. Businesses can also optimize their outreach efforts by targeting potential customers from specific geographic regions or trade zones.
Facebook also offers resources to help businesses optimize their global campaign strategy, including webinars on international marketing with Facebook and a handbook on finding the right customers in new countries.
Founded in Hong Kong, Casetify provides customized phone cases using personal Instagram and Facebook snaps or designs by artists. Using Facebook’s tools and solutions, their business has expanded to American, European and Asian countries, and they achieved a 20% increase in average order value.
Helping female entrepreneurs thrive
Women everywhere give their all to build and support a global community that works for everyone. This is especially true when it comes to women who run businesses. Facebook is proud that 40% of business Pages on Facebook are owned by women, a number that increased 60% from 2015 to 2016.
This includes MISCHA, a luxury bags and accessories brand founded in Hong Kong. Since 2008, the brand has been using Facebook’s myriad of tools, as well as Instagram, to reach customers in other countries and expand across borders.
Thanks to digital tools, women-owned companies like MISCHA are overcoming barriers to starting and growing their own businesses. In fact, online tools are used for significantly more purposes by women business owners than their male counterparts. MISCHA is now already a role model for #SheMeansBusiness, a program that Facebook launched in 2016 to support, celebrate and empower women entrepreneurs and companies owned by women. Late last year, we invited Michelle Lai, founder and CEO of MISCHA, to join our #SheMeansBusiness workshop, in partnership with The Women’s Foundation of Hong Kong, and to share her “Facebook journey” with her fellow female entrepreneurs and offer insights into how to make local business global.
Furthering the global mission
Making digital tools more accessible and inexpensive for businesses – particularly the SMEs that underpin Hong Kong's prosperity – serves the larger mission of fostering the world's digital economy. As Facebook gives more people access to such tools, we help optimize use of the population's talent pool, and we level the playing field for SMEs and entrepreneurs alike. We love to hear stories like MISCHA's. This is how Facebook brings the world closer together as we know we are already a key part of the global digital economy.