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Facebook program aims to help small businesses

Does effectively using social media to increase business seem complicated and confusing? I admit it does to me (spare me the “old dog can’t learn new tricks” shtick). Well, some serious help may be on the way to a city near you for people like me.

Specifically, the giant — Facebook — has announced a new program dubbed “Facebook Community Boost” that will hit the road to 30 cities in 2018, according to reports in Adweek.

The Community Boost program will see Facebook work with local organizations to provide digital skills and training for businesses and nonprofits to get the most out of the Internet. There also will be advice for entrepreneurs.

Dan Levy, vice president of small business at Facebook, says the Community Boost program will offer owners ways their business can expand its digital footprint and find new customers around the corner or around the globe.

For newbies who want to get online for the first time or who want to better support their community, Community Boost will provide training on digital literacy and online safety. It also will help community members use technology to bring people together with features such as events and groups. And for entrepreneurs there will be training programs on how to use technology to turn an idea into a business and demonstrate ways to create a free online presence using Facebook.

The normally one-day Community Boost sessions were developed based on requests from the small business community that Facebook spend more time in their cities and provide more training. “We’re just getting started,” says Levy, “and are pleased to partner with community leaders to learn where we can help.”

The first five cities on the Community Boost schedule have been announced. They are Houston; St. Louis; Albuquerque, N.M.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Greenville, S.C.

Facebook says it has invested more than $1 billion since 2011 to support small businesses. For example, “Boost Your Business” has trained more than 60,000 small businesses in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands more around the world.

More than 1 million small businesses have used Facebook’s free online learning hub, Blueprint, and more than 70 million small businesses use the free Pages tool to create an online presence. Most recently, Facebook created a digital marketing curriculum that will help train 3,000 Michigan residents in digital skills development during the next two years.

The results of new research by Morning Consult, conducted in partnership with Facebook and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center, concluded that 56 percent of small and medium-size businesses on Facebook in the U.S. say they’ve increased sales because of the platform.

Forty-two percent say they have hired more people because of the growth they’ve had since joining Facebook.

“It’s clear when it comes to innovation and economic development New Mexico and Facebook make great partners,” says New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. “We are proud Facebook has selected Albuquerque as one of only five of the first locations in the country to offer its new Community Boost program. Residents and small businesses in New Mexico will have the opportunity to build stronger digital skills to get the most out of the digital marketplace.”

There are many marine dealers already utilizing Facebook for advertising and customer involvement. But the technology is in constant motion and the opportunities to be even more successful undoubtedly abound. Striving to improve digital skills is a constant today.

Explore more about the Community Boost program here.

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