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Why a social media page might work better than a website for SMEs

Southeast Asia is coming online at a staggering rate.

We are home to more than 600 million people, representing a mobile-first generation of consumers who have leapfrogged desktop computers in favour of mobile phones. These relatively newly-connected internet users throughout Southeast Asia represent a healthy consumer pie, but how do small businesses ensure they are served a slice?

The answer is simple. If you do not have a mobile marketing strategy, get one and if you do, it is time to ramp it up.

People in high-growth countries want to be connected to the world around them and mobile has allowed them to connect. The average person checks their mobile device 100 times a day (they check Facebook 14 times a day) according to the IDC “Always Connected” report. This makes mobile an important channel for brands to connect with people, especially in Southeast Asia. More than 80% of people who come back to Facebook come back on mobile. For example, in Thailand, Facebook’s mobile daily active users have jumped 40% in growth from March 2014 to March 2015.

We are also noticing a growing trend of small businesses without websites operating through Facebook Pages, using the intuitive marketing tools to promote their services and connect with their customer. They create a Facebook Page straight away because they find more value than from a website, effectively making Pages the new storefront for small businesses.

Malaysian entrepreneur Annaby Shuz turned to Facebook a year after launching when her online shoe website was struggling to take off. In less than two years her Facebook page has more than 40 thousand fans, which she puts down to being able to talk to her customers in real time. Although the company still has a website, most business is done through its Facebook page.

Thailand online retail store Ome Shop has a similar story. After exploring which medium was best to sell its product, it found the highest order volume came from its Facebook page and stopped investing in other platforms.

A mobile marketing strategy might sound complex and daunting, but the good news is if you have a Facebook page you already have the start of one. There has never been a simpler time for small businesses to connect with consumers online. In the past, a hefty portion of digital advertising and marketing tools were only available to the big players. High minimum spend and expensive reporting technology kept small businesses on the sideline. However, social platforms today have given small businesses a power similar to larger advertisers, and why shouldn’t they have this power?

In many Southeast Asia countries like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, more than half the workforce is employed by small businesses. They contribute to our economic growth significantly with small businesses’ share of GDP ranging from 20-50%. Moving away from counting likes and fans to driving real business results, they are engines of innovation and have led the charge in marrying social media to digital marketing strategies with impressive results.

Babi.vn, a children’s clothing retailer in Vietnam, increased its revenue by three times in one year by using Lookalike Audiences, photo ads and like ads targeted to their audiences mobile and desktop newsfeed. Similarly, Thai leather brand company Bagspace used Custom Audiences to help grow its international business by targeting ads at Indonesian men, which increased their return on ad spend 10 times over.

Today, customers want to connect with small businesses with nearly 70% of Facebook users connected to at least one SMB page from their home country. It is the duty of the SMB to ensure they are connecting back.

The writer is Arrow Guo, head of Small & Medium Business, SEA at Facebook

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