Facebook recently engaged PwC Australia to explore the economic and social benefits that Australian businesses and communities experience from connecting on Facebook.
The report, Connecting Benefits, profiles some of the measurable benefits of Facebook and highlights two key outcomes from the adoption and use of online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram:
- The overcoming of barriers and leverage of free trade agreements to help SMEs grow, employ more people, and generate economic growth.
- The building of resilient communities through forming new friendships, enabling donations to charitable causes and providing support in times of adversity.
Facebook and Instagram are becoming increasingly popular in Australian society and are allowing SMEs to connect with customers and grow revenues, both locally and internationally. This enables existing businesses to grow and new businesses to be built, creating new employment opportunities. PwC Australia estimate that in 2017:
- Aided by their growth from using Facebook, SMEs in Australia hired approximately 120,000 employees, 29 per cent of whom were in regional Australia.
- Approximately $16.8 billion in additional economic value (GVA) was generated by these employees, 24 per cent of which was generated in regional Australia.
Using online services such as Facebook and Instagram to engage with customers and promote a brand removes many of the geographical barriers that traditional brick-and-mortar businesses face, allowing small businesses in regional areas of Australia to access the larger markets of the state capital cities and providing low-cost access to global markets.
The report revealed the top regional area in terms of employment and economic growth from SMEs using Facebook is the Gold Coast. In 2017, SMEs on the Gold Coast hired approximately 3200 additional employees as a result of their growth, aided by their use of Facebook, generating $450 million in economic output (GVA). Elsewhere in regional Australia, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie and the Sunshine Coast saw around 1900 employees hired in 2017 by SMEs due to the growth they experienced, in part from using Facebook.
These growth opportunities have led to a relatively new phenomenon of local businesses pursuing international sales at an early stage, which has been coined “born global”. Over a third (35 percent) of Australian globally active businesses now earn international revenue within two years of establishment.
This is a momentous shift in export dynamics and a long way from traditional business models where a business would only venture into foreign markets once it had established itself domestically. In 2017, 35 per cent of Australian SMEs exported to foreign markets, and 80 per cent of these had a Facebook Page. The report profiles Gold Coast business Evolve Skateboards, who have now grown to 21 staff across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with 70 per cent of total sales now from approximately 30 international markets.
The research uncovered the stories of social entrepreneurs who are using Facebook and Instagram to launch their ideas and calls to action. For example:
- Facebook and Instagram have helped to spread the word of Take 3 for the Sea, an environmental group that encourages people to collect rubbish from public spaces. The idea began in Bateau Bay, NSW, but the research shows their Instagram hashtag has now been used in 129 different countries. Although only active for nine years, it is having a profound impact educating people on the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.
- Mama Tribe, a Facebook Group established to help support new and existing mums. In a little over a year, they have built a support network of over 35,000 mums, helping women throughout Australia in their times of need.
- Football Without Borders is a small Facebook Group, based in Darwin, that organises football matches for asylum seekers, refugees and new migrants so they can engage with the local community. This Group has fewer than 300 members, yet they have regular football players from 25 different countries, many of whom have left their homes due to extreme circumstances.