Top tips and tricks from Facebook for small businesses and MSMEs to grow business faster
Mumbai-based SuperBottoms is a brand providing sustainable diaper solutions for babies. When the pandemic hit, Pallavi Utagi, Founder of SuperBottoms, realised that those who had become new parents during the lockdown were not just worried about their safety but also about how they would take care of their newborns during these uncertain times.
SuperBottoms used Facebook extensively to run multiple activities for their Facebook community, including counselling sessions and connecting new parents with the closest other parents for essential resources.
As a brand, they are using Facebook 2X more during these times, says Archana Vohra, Director, Global Business Group, Scaled & SMB India. She adds that the brand was able to bring their sales back to pre-COVID levels within three months.
In April this year, SuperBottoms raised $2 million in Series A funding, a testament to their growth during the pandemic.
In today’s world, we practically eat, sleep, and breathe around social media applications. These apps are the mainstream mode of communications and building connections, but the pandemic led to a massive spurt in time spent on social media not just for leisure but also to scout business opportunities.
From small businesses to MSMEs and even enterprises, all took the digital path to keep their business alive while the world was under lockdown. This created an immense opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services on a screen that helped them reach across geographies and meet target customers.
Facebook and its family of apps like Instagram and WhatsApp multiplied the opportunities for entrepreneurs, enabling them to increase existing and discover new markets.
In an exclusive interaction with SMBStory on tips and tricks for small businesses and MSMEs to grow their businesses, Archana Vohra speaks about how Facebook has seen a huge surge in SMBs associated with them in last one year and how Facebook and its family of apps are supporting businesses with funding, skilling, and key resources that they need during this crucial period.
SMBStory [SMBS]: How has Facebook been helping micro and small businesses?
Archana Vohra [AV]: Facebook has been deeply committed to the economic recovery of the small businesses of India by supporting them with funding, skilling, and key resources that they need during this crucial period.
Our study with OECD and the World Bank found out that businesses in India are under deep financial stress with nearly one-third of them expecting cash flow to be a challenge. Last year, we had announced a grant of $4.3 million (Rs 32 crore approximately) across five cities in India for small businesses. We also know that small businesses in India have felt the urgent need to move online, which inspired us to launch a local SMB Guide for India that is free and publicly available. We proactively reached out to 15 million small businesses across the country to ensure the guide reaches those who need it the most. It is available in Hindi, apart from in English, to support a large number of businesses across distinct geographies.
We have also enhanced our focus on business skilling and support. Our Managed Partners Program helps mid-tier businesses scale and grow through account management support from our third-party partners. This is available free of cost to customers, and we have enabled more than 16X the businesses since March 2020. Another one of our flagship programmes, the Advertiser Bootcamp, offers deep business learning support through masterclasses and custom content in Hindi and English; it has reached 15 million customers on the platform. As part of the programme, we help customers go online from offline, or understand more about how they can use the platform to get new customers and drive better ROI.
Our VC Brand Incubator Program that works with venture capital funds to scale young, invested brands just finished two years during which time it has tied up with nine VC funds and scaled more than 200 early funded businesses. As a part of this, we have also started ‘Campaign Lab’ that helps direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses get creative solutioning support, and go live with mobile friendly creatives and strategy in under 72 hours.
SMBS: What are the important tips and tricks from Facebook for entrepreneurs to help their business scale and grow now when business operations have resumed?
AV: The pandemic has been challenging for small businesses and the second wave-induced lockdowns have deepened the crisis for many. As businesses resume operations, a few quick action steps that they can follow are:
- Build/strengthen online presence: There is a huge opportunity to expand and reach potential customers not just across India but also across the world. Our studies are also showing that digital can help small businesses navigate challenging times. A Facebook-commissioned study by Deloitte showed that 76 percent of surveyed SMBs reported that Facebook apps were important to helping them adapt to the changing business environment.
- Invest in business learning: Timely skilling can help small businesses scale fast and so this is the right time to invest in business learning. Brands should make use of resources and opportunities that are available online for free. For instance, Facebook has taken all of its digital skills programmes, which are free, online in the last one year, and continues to build on them to provide young businesses with timely support to scale their business.
- Connect directly with customers: Social media can deliver a strong customer experience and deliver business outcomes across the funnel. Chatbots, Messenger, and the WhatsApp Business app are great ways to connect with consumers and solve their queries real time.
- Test, learn, and measure: It is imperative for businesses to test, learn, and measure and analyse the ROI for a successful campaign execution. Brands should try out sample tests with minimal spends and identify what is working for the business. Business disruptions can be navigated more seamlessly if small businesses are focusing on and measuring truly incremental business outcomes.
SMBS: How many SMBs are using Facebook and its family of apps to promote their business?
AV: Facebook is multiplying economic opportunities by powering more than 200 million businesses, mostly small businesses, to use our platforms every month globally to reach their customers. A significant share of these are in India. For instance, we support more than 15 million WhatsApp for Business app users in India. We have more than 10 million active advertisers globally across our apps. This goes to show the vast number of small businesses that use our platform for free every month.
We regularly conduct surveys and research to understand how small businesses use and benefit from our apps.
The India cuts of our joint report with the World Bank and OECD on small businesses revealed that by the end of 2020, almost a third of small businesses on Facebook had increased their digital sales compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another Facebook-commissioned study done by Deloitte that surveyed small businesses in India revealed that 82 percent of surveyed SMBs reported that the Facebook family of apps was important in making their business stronger today and 76 percent reported that the Facebook Family of Apps was helping them remain operational during the pandemic. The same study revealed that 80 percent of surveyed SMBs reported that Facebook apps were important to allowing the business to compete in the market.
SMBS: What are the trends Facebook is witnessing in digital/social media marketing in the next five years?
AV: The biggest trend to call out is around the adoption of digital by small businesses. Given that small businesses contribute 30 percent to India’s GDP, digital can help unlock massive growth opportunities for them, fuelling new business models out of India. A few trends to call out are:
- We will see a further acceleration in small businesses moving from offline to online. Our study with the World Bank and OECD on small businesses surveyed on Facebook said that they make at least a quarter of their sales digitally now. This is significant if you consider that there are 63 million small businesses in India.
- Another big trend is going to be the enhanced role of discovery and how that’s not just going to alter our shopping journeys but is also going to fuel ecommerce in India. New brands and ideas are constantly being ‘discovered’ on the net; and many of them have been born successfully from digital. A Facebook-commissioned online survey by GFK showed that 96 percent of surveyed people said they discover brands and products online. Furthermore, 83 percent, who discover new brands or products online, typically discover on a Facebook platform. All this implies that discovery commerce is going to fuel the business landscape in the coming years.
- Latest reports clearly indicate that active internet users in rural areas are increasing faster than in urban areas. We will see more digital businesses and unique business models emerging out of small towns and rural areas in the coming years.
- We will also witness a new wave of home entrepreneurs and women-led businesses emerging on the back of the reach, ease, and flexibility that digital provides. A Facebook-commissioned Deloitte study told us that female and the younger business leaders were more likely to start or increase use of digital tools. These SMBs were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and digital tools are helping them adapt and overcome some of the challenges of the current environment.