By Dan Levy, VP, Global Small Business

In November we announced Facebook Community Boost, a program to help small businesses grow while equipping more people in their communities with digital skills.

As our CEO Mark Zuckerberg said then, we need to make it easier for people to grow their business or find a job. Today, I’m very excited to announce dates for the first five stops on our US tour, where we intend to do exactly that:

  • St. Louis, Missouri – March 26 – 30
  • Houston, Texas – April 3 – 6
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico – April 30 – May 4
  • Greenville, South Carolina – May 29 – Jun 1
  • Des Moines, Iowa – June 4 – 8

The 70 million small businesses on Facebook represent one of the largest communities of small businesses in the world. And we started Facebook Community Boost based on their feedback. We also partnered with the US Chamber of Commerce and Morning Consult to better understand what small businesses need.

Today, we’re releasing a report, Examining the Impact of Technology on Small Business: How Small Businesses Use Social Media and Digital Platforms to Grow, Sell, and Hire, which is based on three national and state-level surveys conducted in 2017 by Morning Consult. Here are some of the things we learned.

The use of digital platforms by American small businesses is ubiquitous.

  • 84% of small businesses in the US use at least one major digital platform to provide information to customers
  • 3 out of 4 US small businesses use tech platforms for sales

Businesses face challenges when it comes to the internet.

  • 57% of small businesses said that lack of familiarity with available digital tools is a challenge
  • More than half of American businesses still view the cost of internet services as a constraint to building an online presence

Businesses are using Facebook to hire, increase sales and reach new markets.

  • Use of Facebook is widespread among American small businesses: 60% of small businesses surveyed use Facebook for their business
  • Small businesses are using Facebook to grow: 42% of small businesses on Facebook say they’ve hired more people due to growth since joining and 56% say they increased sales because of the platform
  • Small businesses are using Facebook to reach new markets: 52% of small businesses on Facebook say the platform helps them sell products to other markets, and small businesses that use Facebook are more likely to report trading with other countries
  • Small business owners in minority demographic groups are using Facebook in significant ways: African-American, Hispanic and veteran-owned businesses are more than twice as likely to say that their business was built on Facebook

US state-level data can be found in the full report and in dashboards at economy.fb.com.

What’s Next: Understanding Digital Needs in Each US City

To make sure these programs fully benefit each community, we’re working with Morning Consult to survey business managers and people in search of skills and work in each city we plan to visit. We want to find out what digital skills would be most valuable and then build programs accordingly.

Here’s an example of what we learned about St. Louis, the first stop in our tour:

  • There are wide gaps between the digital skills job seekers know they need and the skills they feel they have. While 93% of jobs and skills seekers say digital skills are important when looking for job, only 12% rate themselves highly in this area.
  • Managers also see gaps in the skills they need to grow their businesses. For example, the majority of managers in St. Louis said that creating a mobile-friendly interface was important to growing their business, but very few saw themselves as proficient.

We’re committed to investing in small businesses and their communities, and we’re excited to continue to share what we learn along the way. Find out more and share your feedback.