By Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook Vice-President for Europe, Middle East and Africa
Social media has transformed so many aspects of modern life, from how we communicate and build communities online, to how we organise for social action and raise money for charitable causes. It has also changed the way companies, especially small ones, grow their businesses. Today, we estimate that around 25 million businesses in the European Union, mostly small businesses, are using our services each month.
To understand the true extent of Facebook’s impact on the European economy, we commissioned a study by Copenhagen Economics, one of the leading economic firms in Europe. The study surveyed over 7,700 businesses across all industries and sizes in 15 countries.
Surveyed businesses said that using Facebook apps helped them generate sales corresponding to an estimated EUR 208 billion last year. Using standard economic modeling techniques, this translates into an estimated 3.1 million jobs.
Businesses also said that using Facebook apps helped them generate an estimated EUR 98 billion in exports last year. Of these exports, EUR 58 billion are sales within the EU and EUR 40 billion are sales to the rest of the world.
This shows the critical role social media plays in driving sales for businesses across Europe. This is particularly true for small and medium sized businesses, who not only use social media to showcase their company and their products, but also as a trusted forum for communication with customers, a tool for analytics and insights and a source of cost-effective advertising, enabling them to reach new customers locally and abroad.
The study also found that female-founded businesses in particular credit social media with helping them to start and grow their businesses. 58% of female-founded businesses surveyed said that Facebook apps are important for enabling them to start businesses, while 65% said it helped grow their revenue.
Virginia Pozo Castro started her business in 2011, borrowing money from her parents to finance the project, and since the beginning she’s used Facebook and Instagram to show off her designs and find new customers. Today, she has 22 stores across Spain and her clothes are stocked in 60 retail outlets in addition to her online store.
Virginia’s business is just one example of the millions of businesses using our apps to connect with customers, drive sales and grow. For years, it’s been common to hear people discuss the ‘digital economy’ as if the value that technology companies add is somehow separate from the rest of the economy. This report shows how social media has become an integral part of the European economy and is significantly contributing to its growth.
You can read the full report here.