The pandemic pushed many businesses online into uncharted virtual spaces, and understanding how to effectively navigate digital and social platforms didn’t happen overnight. In 2021, Meta’s Good Ideas Exchange identified content creation and creative strategy among the top pain points for business owners. Inspired by these findings, Meta launched a five-city tour offering hands-on workshops, thought leadership sessions, networking opportunities and one-on-one support centers to help small-business owners discover the company’s digital marketing tools on Facebook and Instagram.
From July through October, the inaugural Meta Boost Small Business Studios tour visited Detroit; Columbus, OH; Kansas City, MO; Austin, TX; and San Diego, spending two days in each city. The Meta team anchored the series around a set of best creative practices for a mobile-first world as small businesses look to build their online presence.
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Attendees could choose from a variety of workshops and mainstage presentations, depending on the training content that most interested them, such as a “Build Your Brand” workshop, a tutorial on creating virtual storefronts and a “How I Did It” panel featuring successful business founders. Activations included Reels School in Action where participants learned how to make Instagram Reels, a mobile studio with a professional photographer who shared tips for content creation, and a metaverse space for attendees to explore Meta Quest 2, Meta Portal and Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses.
Meta experts were available on-site at the Support Bar to answer questions and provide their technical expertise on products and strategies. Meta Business Partners like Adobe and Vimeo spoke with attendees about digital design and campaign performance with video and joined Meta experts in offering one-on-one support. Meta also engaged local creators, experts and agencies to round out the event’s content lineup and ensure it felt relevant to the host city, providing nearby resources and connections for continued learning post-event.
“It’s one of the biggest values that we are able to provide with our face-to-face events and something that over the last few years, as we were living solely in virtual, we had missed as a company really being able to interact with our clients, and I think the small businesses missed being able to get that support,” says Janelle Mungo, experiential marketing lead-global small business experiences at Meta. “It’s a great way for us to understand where the clients are at and be able to bring some of that back to our company and inform our colleagues around how people are actually using the product.”
Primarily using its own platforms to drive awareness, Meta employed a multichannel marketing campaign through Facebook and Instagram ads, as well as email communications and local, word-of-mouth strategies, such as street teams and radio promotions. Meta also partnered with Inc. to share content and generate buzz for the tour’s city stops.
Mungo says the tour was “extremely well-received,” with excitement from attendees about networking with their local community and on-the-ground learning opportunities with Meta experts and its partners.
“I think the biggest learning we had is how important it is for the connection, both for us with our clients and with the community together,” Mungo says. “And not anything that’s probably surprising for us as experiential, face-to-face marketers, it’s great to see that hunger and drive for in-person events is still there, so we’ll be assessing the plans for next year—how we can take the learnings that we had and bring them into planning for 2023.”
In addition to the tour, Small Business Studios includes a virtual component with an online hub offering free resources and on-demand videos on creative training and digital skills. Agency: Factory 360.
Photo credit: Meta