By Susan Au Allen, President US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC)
(Editor’s Note: The following is a guest commentary. Opposing views are welcomed)
Members of Congress and the mainstream media have been complaining about Facebook as well as other digital platforms for exploiting their power in a way that harms the interests of average Americans. But, for small business owners, and, in particular, Asian American-owned small businesses, which our organization represents, Facebook has been a major asset as they try to compete with the big companies with much more resources and power in their hands.
Indeed, for small business owners, especially those who are members of minority groups that face obstacles in trying to operate in the competitive business universe, access to a tool like Facebook makes all the difference, between being crushed by the big players and struggling to survive another day in the marketplace.
Hence, while a large company is either capable of utilizing their sizeable marketing, public relations and advertising departments or hiring a big Madison Avenue firm to promote its products or services, the only approach open to a small company is online resources that Facebook provides.
According to an Ipsos Public Affairs survey, Asian American-owned and small minority businesses (AA SMBs) agreed that promoting a business on mass media such as television, radio, or print is too expensive for them to consider.
At the same time, 85% of AA SMBs noted they use Facebook to provide basic information about their businesses and 74% use Facebook to market to customers. Here are more facts and figures worth noting:
89% of AA SMBs utilize Instagram for marketing to customers.
64 % for communicating with customers.
57% use Facebook Messenger for marketing to customers.
52% for communicating with customers.
45% for competing with other businesses.
88% utilize WhatsApp for communicating with suppliers.
45% for communicating with customers.
33% for providing basic information about their businesses.
The survey also showed that AA SMBs are leveraging the Facebook platform to build and grow their businesses.
Half of them say Facebook is important to their business and 36% report Facebook gives them better access to new customers, which is critical for Asian American-owned and small and minority businesses to build and grow revenues.
Furthermore, AA SMBs who use Facebook report 43% improved customer satisfaction, 36% better access to new customers and higher domestic sales among those who export (33%) as well as higher international sales (26%) among those who export.
In general, the survey indicates that in today’s digital economy, a majority of AA SMBs find using Facebook has made their businesses stronger and given them better access to new customers, a critical factor for operating a more profitable business.
We should welcome a public debate about the role and the power in the hands of giant high-tech companies, and find ways to increase competition and serve consumers. Congress should be careful that while crafting legislation aimed at regulating the online markets, it does not throw the baby out with the bath water. In particular, we urge Congress to take into consideration that if it plans to break up the digital platforms or take steps to regulate them, it does not harm the interests of America’s small businesses, the backbone of the economy and the laboratory of innovation, that use Facebook to expand their market here in the United States and abroad.
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