Facebook sets up SME council as it expands in sector

Collaboration between social media giant and Irish firms could help exporters grow

Facebook has set up a council of more than a dozen Irish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as it looks to increase its presence in the sector and facilitate exporters looking to reach bigger audiences.

The company, which generates the vast majority of its revenue from mobile use, is seeking to draw more businesses on to Facebook in order to grow its reach and revenue, while also helping SMEs, and particularly exporters, to grow their businesses.

On the company's expansion into the SME sector, Facebook vice-president of SMEs in EMEA Ciaran Quilty said on Tuesday: "We're increasing resources. That's a huge part of the council, in terms of listening to the various tools and products that we need to build. We need to keep working with SMEs and improving our services."

The Irish SME council will be led by Facebook manager for SMEs in the UK and Ireland Olly Sewell and includes 14 business owners from towns and cities across the State.

Global reach

The council will meet at least twice a year. “SMEs all of a sudden have a huge export potential to really accelerate the growth of their business and reach people anywhere in the world incredibly quickly,” said Mr Quilty.

“This is a new channel for exports. Irish SMEs could use mobile a lot more to help them grow their businesses and employ more people, so we’re taking a small community of businesses in and we’re going to listen to what their needs are.

“All the tools are available to everyone now. We hope to create a movement where all SMEs can learn from each other around all the different sophisticated tools and techniques that are there for them to do it.”

In terms of the tools available to SMEs, they include “advanced targeting techniques” for advertisers on Facebook.

“There’s also video,” said Mr Quilty. “We’ve seen a massive explosion in video. People love video on the phones, and SMEs are great at creating video which is highly relevant to their business, which can drive hard results.

“If you’ve an ecommerce business, there are various different tools. If you’re an export business, there are various different audience and targeting options that allow you to address and find customers in other markets.”

Among the firms on the council are: Appassionata Flowers, Aran Sweater Market, Boutique Bake, Burren Perfumery, Folkster, Kerrigan’s Craft Butchers, Lennon Courtney, Life Style Sports, Magee of Donegal, Obeo, Ronan Cullen Flooring, Strong Roots, and Well Nice Pops.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter