Facebook is helping small and midsized businesses gear up for a holiday shopping season made more crucial than ever by Covid-19 with its three-month Season of Support initiative.
The social network will provide 11 weeks of education, resources and training for SMBs, free-of-charge, which will be accessible via a new holiday hub starting Oct. 12.
Vice president of global customer marketing Michelle Klein said in an interview that Season of Support will be available in 15 countries and in multiple languages, adding that it was the logical next step in the social network’s continuing efforts to support SMBs affected by the pandemic, following its Summer of Support initiative.
Facebook said it will particularly focus on Black-owned businesses, which have been among the hardest-hit during the pandemic, closing at double the rate of overall SMBs.
“We want to encourage people to buy from Black-owned businesses this holiday season,” Klein said.
The company is teaming up with U.S. Black Chambers on the #BuyBlack Friday campaign.
The #BuyBlack Friday Show will be livestreamed every Friday from Oct. 30 through Nov. 27 on the page for the Facebook App and the social network’s Lift Black Voices hub.
Klein said the goal is to build momentum and lead right up to Nov. 27, the “traditional” Black Friday, adding, “The next few weeks are going to be very critical. Some businesses won’t make it by the end of this year.”
Each episode will be hosted by a prominent voice from the Black community, such as standup comedian Phoebe Robinson, and products from Black-owned small businesses across the country will be featured, curated in partnership with leading voices in the Black community.
One example of a Black-owned SMB that will be featured on the #BuyBlack Friday Show is Flint, Mich.-based beauty brand Elle Jae Essentials, which was founded by La’Asia Johnson in 2017.
Johnson was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 14 and experienced severe skin reactions from her favorite beauty products, so she began researching ingredients and founded her company to offer products that were safe and trustworthy.
Her store was one of the businesses that closed due to the coronavirus, dropping revenue by 70%, but Johnson was able to mine sales and attract new customers via events on Facebook and Instagram and groups on Facebook.
The Black Voice Hub will also include the Facebook #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, a curated selection of products from Black-owned businesses in the U.S. across categories including beauty, fashion and home.
And the social network’s Businesses Nearby option gives visitors access to information on Black-owned businesses in their areas, such as which are open. Businesses can opt to designate themselves as Black-owned.
Finally, Facebook will introduce features in its flagship application encouraging people to create posts that support Black-owned businesses, including a special sticker for Facebook Stories.
Klein said over 3.5 million people in the U.S. became members of new Facebook groups supporting Black-owned businesses since March.