According to the social media giant, which owns the four most-downloaded apps – Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram – the day aimed to share pathways to economic recovery and insights into the social trends shaping business in 2021.
“With more than 160 million businesses using our apps every month, and some relying on our platforms to earn livelihoods, we are acutely aware of the responsibility we have to keep people connected during this uncertain time,” a media release stated.
Speaking at the event, Vice-President of the APAC region for Facebook Dan Neary said: “The APAC region represents two thirds of the world’s population and is a key driver for growth, especially in digitalisation and ecommerce,” he said, adding: “In the new normal, consumer behaviour has fundamentally changed. Now 85 percent of people globally are participating in ecommerce. Businesses and people are taking advantage of that, using our apps.”
This digitalisation of businesses, he said, is increasing the reach of businesses across borders, increasingly connecting them with wider audiences.
Former Facebook Vice-President for Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) in APAC, Karen Tao, said that the company’s apps provide critical tools for businesses.
Tao said that SMBs are increasingly turning to online platforms to boost revenue in the new normal.
“A survey conducted by Facebook in July shows that a quarter of sales from SMBS are made online. It also found that those with higher online sales were less likely to reduce their workforce,” she said. Through utilising features of our apps, such as Facebook marketplace, the go live features and commerce-related tools across WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram, businesses are weathering the storm, she added. A rising trend is video, namely entertainment mixed with merchandising.
During lockdown people have really embraced Instagram live and its video connection features to stay connected with both friends and family but also businesses and content creators.
A report from the conference found that of its one billion Instagram users, 90 percent followed businesses and 80 percent said Instagram helped them to decide whether to buy products or services.
It also found customers are increasingly turning to influencers and creators to be entertained, which in turn presents more opportunity for merchandising as part of entertainment. Ten years ago, it was emails and phone calls but this has shifted and messaging is the dominant communication.
Although it is much more convenient, simple and fast this hasn’t shifted on the business side predominantly, it said.
It said consumers demand a different relationship with brands. In the old days, you would email a business. But they want connections with businesses to be personal and convenient. 71 percent expect an immediate reply and 73 percent want a solution.
The more you are connected to a business the more loyal and inclined to shop with that business you are, is the theory.
Facebook carried out the Global State of Small Business Report in July to research the extent of impact of the pandemic on SMBs.
According to a Facebook report, more than a quarter of small businesses said they closed between January and May this year – with that figure rising to more than 50 percent in some countries.