- More than a dozen Facebook offices will host the training program, which will help small businesses prepare for the holidays and learn how to use Facebook's new social media tools.
- Facebook estimates that more than 140 million businesses use the company's apps every month.
- Among the new tools available to businesses is the ability to set autoreplies to messages received during nonbusiness hours.
As the holidays grow closer, small business owners everywhere are trying to effectively reach potential customers. Nearly half of American shoppers started their holiday shopping in November or earlier last year, so to get ahead of the curve, Facebook is helping entrepreneurs improve how they leverage their social media presence today by hosting its inaugural Boost With Facebook Holiday Bootcamp.
Throughout the day, the social media giant's offices in New York City, Menlo Park, Austin, Chicago, London, Dublin, Berlin, Madrid, Warsaw, Istanbul, Lagos, Johannesburg, São Paulo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Singapore and the Philippines are open to small businesses who applied for a spot in the program.
Facebook first launched its Community Boost program back in November 2017, touting it as a way to help provide "U.S. businesses and workers with the digital education and skills they need to compete in the new mobile economy." Months after its initial launch, the company expanded the program in a bid to train 1 million small business owners by 2020.
In a post outlining the day's events, Michelle Klein, Facebook's vice president of Global Business Marketing, said the company estimates that more than 140 million businesses currently use Facebook's application suite, which includes Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger. [See related story: Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know]
"We know the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for many businesses, so having the right resources and skills to manage your business during this time is critical," Klein wrote.
Along with several informational seminars to help small business owners get their bearings before the holiday rush, Facebook had Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary on hand to participate in a Facebook Live video. Meanwhile, in New York City, small businesses like Lovepop will share how they plan to prepare for the holidays.
New Facebook features released
In addition to today's events, Facebook unveiled new features that roll out next week to help small businesses remain connected to their customers.
For businesses that regularly leverage Stories on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, the social media giant has released customizable templates. With the new feature, businesses can create full-screen items that fit vertically on the screens of mobile devices.
Messages on Instagram also saw an overhaul for small business users. Moving forward, small business accounts can assign labels to certain users, take advantage of a more robust search feature and create folders to organize communications.
Across the company's platforms, small business owners can also now set up instant replies and away messages for users who want to reach businesses during off-hours or if owners are away on vacation. Saved replies for commonly asked questions can be set by small business owners.
The Facebook SMB boot camp is going on tour
While opening 17 offices around the globe for the small businesses that managed to get into the event is a step toward helping the small business community get ready for the holidays, many entrepreneurs and business owners are wondering how to better prepare for the "most wonderful time of the year."
To help get its message out to as many business owners as possible, Klein said Facebook is taking its training program on the road, with plans to host more than 200 free training events around the world.
For those who can't attend any of the events, Klein pointed out that Facebook will post tips to help small businesses prepare for the holidays. "We do this because we believe growth benefits everyone: Every day, people launch and grow businesses, which help strengthen their communities and grow their local economies," she wrote.