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Why should Vail Valley businesses consider sending someone down to Denver on Monday to attend Facebook’s Community Boost event? Vail Valley Partnership President & CEO Chris Romer sums it up in once sentence:
“In the ‘Age of Amazon’, it is increasingly important for small businesses to engage with their customers,” said Romer, whose organization is one of the community partners for the event. “Facebook is a low-barrier and effective way for small businesses to engage with customers.”
Originally one of only 30 small business and nonprofit Facebook training sessions around the nation (Facebook has since expanded to 50), the Denver Community Boost event will be held Monday at The Cable Center on Buchtel Boulevard.
“In Denver, specifically, we surveyed small businesses and learned that 8 in 10 say digital skills are important to their success, but when we asked workers, only one in five said they felt their skills were excellent,” said Doug Frisbie, SMB Marketing Director for Facebook. “So when we think about today’s economy, bridging that gap is something we felt we could do with this program.”
Community Boost is a Facebook and Instagram training program for small businesses, job seekers and community leaders — including educators and nonprofit groups — aimed at fostering more success in today’s digital economy. And, of course, promoting Facebook and its Instagram site, as the social media platforms of choice for accomplishing that goal.
There will be a wide variety of training sessions and workshops for all skill levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced — focusing on topics like marketing on your cellphone using Facebook’s Mobile Studio, how best to market or advertise your company on Facebook and ways to connect to other businesses while continuing to grow your customer base.
“Everybody goes on Facebook, everybody puts their business up on there and they think, ‘Oh, you know, you just go on there and you buy some ads and you try to get in front of people,’ and people just kind of think of it as an advertising tool, and it’s really just so much more than that,” said Josh Glisan, owner of Denver’s Dust City Designs.
Glisan, whose wood-sticker business will participate in a panel discussion Monday, says Facebook not only helped grow his business but also identified his key demographics and solidified his B2B sales that now have his stickers (#showmeyourwood) in Wholefoods, REI, Hallmark and Bass Pro Shops. Now they’re growing their B2C sales through Facebook.
“Even if you’ve got a little shop, you need to be on there because these places are what people are on their phones looking for and it’s vitally important to be on Facebook, especially where you guys are,” Glisan said. “There’s so much tourism, and we work very heavily in the gifted souvenir industry.”
Special topics such as “How to Sell Across Borders” might be particularly relevant for Vail Valley businesses reaching out to international markets, but Facebook’s Frisbie says there are numerous ways for small businesses in the Vail Valley to engage with the social media giant even if they can’t make the 100-mile drive to Denver Monday.
Facebook’s Learning Bar can provide customized, individual, one-on-one support, and then there’s Blueprint, the company’s online learning portal, which provides a variety of online courses business owners or workers can take on their own time without traveling.
Beyond that, Facebook has pledged to train a million people by 2020, and one of the ways they’re doing that is by partnering with local community groups like the Vail Valley Partnership so they can continue the training sessions on an ongoing basis after Facebook leaves town. And in the fall Facebook is launching a brand-new online training platform called “Learn With Facebook”.
Asked if Community Boost is part of Facebook’s public relations campaign to counter negative publicity surrounding this spring’s Cambridge Analytica data breach, Frisbie pointed out Facebook has been training businesses and workers for several years.
“We announced this program in early November, so well ahead of some of the current issues that have arisen, and then I would also say that this is an extension of work that we’ve been doing for years,” Frisbie said. “We’re really building on existing efforts based on opportunities that we’ve seen through some of our local research and our local partners. So, I really think of [Community Boost] as an extension rather than a specific tactic to address any current issues.”
Go to Facebook’s Community Boost page to register for Monday’s event.