Meta Focuses on Florida Small Business

Todays News

Graphic by Jacob Ogles. Data from Meta.

Consumers were already shifting their purchases online before the pandemic, and that only accelerated afterward. In the meantime, social media platforms steadily increased involvement with small business owners in making sure they can meet potential clients where they are online.

Meta, the corporate entity behind Facebook and Instagram, has tracked since 2020 the way businesses use the platforms' own business tools. The company published data last week showing advertising tools on its platforms were linked to businesses providing 170,000 jobs and generating $22.6 billion in Florida alone. Diana Doukas, Public Policy Manager for Economic Opportunity at Meta, spoke to SRQ exclusively about the significance in spurring small business growth in the state.

“There's a lot of ways to make your dream of being a small business work,” Doukas said, “and we hope to be even just a small part of that."

It’s Small Business Week through May 5, prompting the massive Meta to remind entrepreneurs it can be a partner to the smallest of companies. Doukas noted many of the services and tools available on the platforms have little or no cost, which is especially valuable for startups. Since use of the platforms is completely free to most casual users, that provides an instant audience for targeting marketing efforts.

“These small businesses, they're entrepreneurs, they're passionate. They're also coming up with really amazing ideas, sometimes on the spot, and say, ‘you know what I have this idea, I'm going to test it out,’” she said.

“Free platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a really easy way to test that because again it's a lower barrier to entry, right? It's the platforms are free. It doesn't cost a ton of money to be able to just throw things at the wall and test things, especially if you're thinking about targeted advertising. Or you can use our organic reach tools for free.”

While Meta employs some 86,000 people, most of the companies on the platform are small. In Florida, that’s especially true. The latest survey results show 96% of Florida businesses on Facebook are small- or medium- sized. That’s a higher percentage than like-sized states like New York (95%) and regional neighbors like Georgia (94%).

Defying conventional wisdom about how mom-and-pop shops make money, the survey shows 36% of those small businesses make a quarter of their sales digitally, and 26% of business owners say online business increased when they started using digital marking tools. Some 56% of business owners say they communicate directly with customers through digital tools.

While marketing and messaging are among the more visible tools, Doukas said there’s other support for entrepreneurs available as well.

The survey results show 41% of businesses using the Meta platforms are minority-led and another 41% are led by women. Doukas noted Meta has specialized support for entrepreneurs in the category providing both mentorship and a community in which to bounce ideas. Meta Elevate focuses on Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses, while SheMeansBusiness is geared to support women entrepreneurs.

Meta also reaches out directly to regional business groups to race awareness of the always growing set of tools available to businesses.

“For at least over a decade, we've been running programs that make it more intuitive and easier for businesses to use the platform,” Doukas said. “Technologies change all of the time. Resources change. We have programs that will literally crisscross the country, and show up in local communities and put on half-day trainings to say, hey, business community, we have a new tool or this is how to better refine how you're using the targeted advertising tools. Or here's what Reels are, and this is how you can monetize them and use them for your business.”

About 21% of Florida businesses using the Meta platforms offer formal training for employees in the form of internships and apprenticeships. The company also has its own training resources available online to show businesses how to better use its tools.

Graphic by Jacob Ogles. Data from Meta.

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