“We’ve seen a rise in Facebook-only Australian businesses,” says platform’s local Head of SMB

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Australian businesses are connected to more than 210 million people, globally, through Facebook, while more than one in three SMBs have been built on the social media platform.

Kaylie Smith, Head of SMB for Facebook Australia & New Zealand, spoke to Dynamic Business about the company’s local data, including findings from a recent poll of 1000 SMBS utilising Facebook and its sister platform Instagram. She also discussed how handbag brand Mon Purse and beach umbrella company Cool Cabanas have leveraged the platforms to build a global audience.

Finding one: Nearly 210 million people from globally are connected to a business in Australia. The top five countries are the US, UK, Canada, India and Pakistan.

DB: What sort of opportunities does this coverage generate for businesses in Australia?

Smith: The ability to connect to over 200m potential customers outside of Australia creates the kind of opportunities for our businesses to scale that haven’t ever existed in the past. This kind of global scale enables businesses in our backyard to sell products and services anywhere, at the touch of a button and to find audiences no matter where they are around the world.

DB: What solutions are businesses leveraging to reach this global audience?

 Smith: ‘Dynamic language optimisation’ is saving businesses money and time by allowing them to deliver ads more efficiently in campaigns that use multiple languages, while ‘multi-country lookalike audiences’ is enabling them to find potential customers across a combination of countries of their choosing. Further, ‘multi-city targeting’ allows businesses to automatically select all the cities in a country, region or even worldwide based on population size, and we offer them easy-to-interpret data and training resources to help inform their cross-border strategy.

DB: Which types of businesses have the most global exposure through Facebook?

Smith: We’re enabling businesses of any size, selling virtually anything, to have global exposure. A great example of a local retailer who has built a global audience on our platform is Mon Purse. They’ve grown 8,000% in 18 months, and are on track to deliver $20 million in personalised handbag and luxury leather goods sales. The management team credits Facebook and Instagram for much of its sales, ascribing the return on investment of some of its advertising campaigns by a factor of 100. It currently spends approximately 80% of its budgets with Facebook and Instagram and also attributes much of its brand growth to the strength of Instagram. As well as stores in Sydney, Mon Purse has recently opened in the UK and US and is planning further expansion across Australia, US and UK.

James Hopkins, Head of eCommerce at Mon Purse, says: “Facebook and Instagram are our ‘always on’ marketing tools. We run multiple campaigns across Facebook and Instagram at any one time. And have seen returns as high as 60 x ROI for the business. We began using Facebook as a re-targeting tool, but having had so much success through the platform, it has quickly become a prospecting tool. We use a broad range of ad formats, including custom audiences and highly optimise ads throughout the campaigns. Instagram is a key brand platform for both organic and paid campaigns. These two platforms are a safe investment for us and have been a huge factor in the quick growth of the Mon Purse business.”

DB: Why do local businesses resonate with Facebook users in the US, UK, Canada, India and Pakistan?

Smith: We know that Australians are highly connected with people in these markets, so it makes sense for local small businesses to experience similar connections. We’ve also seen small businesses tap into markets that experience inverse seasons to Australia, applying seasonal insights and experiences year-round.

A great example of a local business that has leveraged the changing seasons is Cool Cabanas with its beach sun shelters. In the early stages of their business, Cool Cabanas had products ready to sell at the end of the Australian summer. Rather than waiting until the next heat wave to hit our shores, they used Facebook to target the US market – Cool Cabanas sold out within months. The business attributes 95% of their success to Facebook, with the demand becoming so great in the US that they set up warehouses in California and Delaware. In fact, Cool Cabanas grew so quickly in the US that the business couldn’t keep up, forcing them to DHL products from around the world to the US.

Finding two: More than one in three SMBs on Facebook built their business on the platform 

DB: Does this mean Australian businesses are being born on Facebook?

Smith: It means that Facebook and Instagram were the primary tools for building a customer base, selling products and building their brand. Our customers think of their Facebook page as their online store, where new products are launched and where all customer interactions occur.

We’ve seen a rise in Facebook or Instagram-only Aussie businesses over the past few years. Practically, that means businesses don’t have a website or any other online presence but instead use their Facebook page as their only online store.

Finding three: 46% of SMBs on Facebook say they have been able to hire more staff due to growth in demand since joining the platform

DB: How are businesses using Facebook to recruit the right staff?

Smith: Businesses can use Facebook to post new jobs on their page, which means they are getting job postings in front of an already connected and engaged set of potential team members. In a few markets, globally, we’ve even launched a fully-fledged jobs solution for businesses, including New Zealand.

Finding four: 62% of SMBs say digital and social media skills are important when thinking about hiring a new employee, more than where an applicant went to school

DB: Are an increasing number if businesses placing stock in these skills?

Smith: As our platforms become more important to more and more businesses, both as an online storefront and a customer service tool, the ability to understand how to engage with their community becomes increasingly important.

One of our key goals is to make our advertising tools as easy to use as possible and to provide digital education and training through our Blueprint online learning modules. We have publicly committed to training 3,000 SMBs in Australia in 2018 to help build digital & social skills across the country.

Finding five: 61% of SMBs with a business page on Facebook say they have increased sales

Finding six: 59% of SMBs on Facebook believe the platform allows them to sell products or services in other cities, states, or countries

Finding seven: 69% of SMBs on Facebook state that the platform helps them attract customers

DB: What strategies are SMBs using to draw new customers and boost sales?

Smith: Both Facebook and Instagram have a suite of ad solutions to help businesses attract new customers. They range from the ability to ‘boost’ a post to drive engagement, to really sophisticated re-marketing solutions using customer data via the Facebook pixel. We like to work closely with SMBs to help them build their customer base and to use tools such as mobile and video that will help drive greater engagement and awareness.

Facebook has created very simple product and advertising tools that help SMBs link to clear business objectives, connecting people with their desired audience. This is why small businesses love using Facebook, as they are able to find and engage with their most relevant customers.