During the pandemic: Majority of Lankans SMBs increased use of digital tools - Facebook survey
Two recent surveys released by Facebook revealed how both Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), as well as consumers in Sri Lanka, have increased their use of digital tools and social media since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Small and medium businesses are the backbone of Sri Lanka’s economy, accounting for more than 75 percent of all enterprises and contributing over 50 percent to the country’s GDP. In August 2020, Deloitte carried out the Facebook-commissioned Digital Tools in Crisis and Recovery - Small and Medium Business survey to assess how SMBs have changed their utilization of digital technologies and social media to continue engaging with customers during the pandemic. Approximately 37 per cent of owners and managers surveyed were younger than 35, 32 per cent were women, and four percent were solo entrepreneurs with no employees.
The research shows that since the outbreak, 42 per cent of SMBs started using or increased their usage of social media platforms when interacting with customers. Among them, 93 per cent reported that they have been using Facebook more, while 80 per cent used WhatsApp more, and 29 per cent turned to Instagram more. Marketing practices also witnessed a noticeable change; 46 per cent of SMBs surveys stated that they had increased their paid or unpaid marketing to prospective customers in their geographical market.
“The report shows that since the pandemic has taken hold, consumers are spending more online and leaning on digital tools to discover and engage with businesses they care about. Facebook’s products and features have been a lifeline for many small businesses making this leap to shift to online – we’ll continue to support them as they adapt during these uncertain times,” said Yasas Visuddhi Abeywickrama, Policy Programmes Manager for Sri Lanka at Facebook.
Additionally, the Digital Tools in Crisis and Recovery - Consumer report assessed how consumers’ utilization of digital technologies and social media has adapted to support continued engagement with businesses during COVID. The research indicated that during the pandemic, consumers become more interested in supporting small businesses.
Approximately 69 per cent of consumers who switched to new businesses reported that they chose local small businesses. 70 per cent of them reported using social media to discover the businesses. Among them, 83 per cent used social media or online messaging more to communicate with businesses and 62 per cent used it more to browse products. Looking into the future, 36 per cent of consumers surveyed reported that they expect to continue spending more at such businesses. This reflects the global figure; 31 per cent of all respondents from 13 countries where this survey was conducted said they plan to increase their spending with small, local businesses when the pandemic is over.
In Sri Lanka, Facebook is supporting digital transformation and economic recovery through various initiatives. The company has partnered with the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA)’s Smart Social Circles and Suhuruliya programmes to train entrepreneurs and support communities with Facebook for Business skills. Facebook also supports SMBs through ICTA’s Go Digital Programme.