SMEs’ presence on online business pages intensifies amidst Covid-19

Kuala Lumpur, 28 May 2020- As Covid-19 has changed the way business is conducted, demand for online business pages has intensified among the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to survive the pandemic.

Locally, broadcasting a brand on business pages, whether its Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads is now seen as “a must” to ensure businesses’ resilience as many traditional stores are being forced to shut down as consumer behaviour has changed drastically, with people preferring to shop online more than buy in a crowded store.

Planetmahir Sdn Bhd co-founder and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ahmad Ramzi Mohamad Zubir said at the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak, the SMEs had difficulties to understand and decide what to do, especially those in the food and beverage (F&B), hospitality and tourism-related industries. “They were soon convinced that the only way they can sustain is by changing their business model, going online, leveraging on social media, using digital marketing as their marketing tools.

“For example, F&B players exited from their norm of focusing on retail to shift to deliveries, ghost kitchens, others. Thus, online exposure is important,” he told Bernama.

Hence, besides investing in websites, business pages and payment gateways, he also suggested a brand to invest in systems that will enable businesses to be linked directly to delivery companies and/or online markets like Shopee and Lazada.

“The critical success factor however is the level of knowhow and investment value on features like Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads.

“They will also have to invest in digitisation of their marketing materials such as videos and graphics,” Ahmad Ramzi said.

According to Facebook, it has introduced a slew of efforts in helping SMEs to weather Covid-19 crisis, one of which is the creation of a US$100 million grant programme to help 30,000 small businesses around the world.

Facebook said it will be starting with businesses in over 30 countries where it operates in.

Additionally, WhatsApp has launched its Coronavirus Information Hub at in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Development Programme.

The hub aims to provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profit organisations, local governments, and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate and offer general tips and resources for users to reduce the spread of rumours and connect with accurate health information. 

WhatsApp has also donated US$1 million to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network to help grow the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance on WhatsApp, which spans more than 100 organisations in 45 countries.

Recently, Facebook and Instagram announced that they have lined up new features to direct people to gift cards from local businesses on the platforms and purchase them via select third-party partner sites. 

Facebook is testing a feature where people will be able to access gift cards from participating merchants in their cities through a “Support Local Businesses” promotion on the platform.

The gift cards are made possible through its partners — Fave and StoreHub, who will share the value of the gift card minus their transaction fee with the participating merchant.

On Instagram, businesses can add a gift card sticker to their Stories and also a button for their business profile page.

Each time someone sees a Story with these stickers or goes to the business profile page, they can tap through to complete a purchase on the website of the chosen platform.

“With these gift cards and discount vouchers, we hope to provide the means for people to easily share and support their local businesses,” said Facebook Malaysia country director, Nicole Tan.

Facebook has also recently collaborated with local businesses in hosting a week-long live event on Facebook Business Page themed ‘Jaga Jarak, Tetap Meriah dengan Digital Beli Belah’.

Through a collaboration with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Facebook Malaysia is hosting an ongoing 20 training sessions to equip businesses with the necessary digital skills and knowledge to connect and take their businesses online.

There are more than three billion people actively using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger each month globally.

-The Edge