ST. LOUIS – Facebook kicked off its Community Boost initiative Monday in St. Louis, the first stop in a 30-city tour.
The event will give local small business owners opportunities to learn about how to use the social media platform to connect with customers, and non-profits will learn how to train job seekers.
City officials have been trying to get the company to come back ever since CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the initiative during a visit to the city’s Cortex District in November 2017.
"Social media is something that a lot of people find a lot of pain points around, but it's here,” said Deputy Mayor Nicole Hudson. “It's not going anywhere. And it's critical in the 21st century to know how to navigate that."
In a survey, Facebook found four of every five area business managers think a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ goes a long way toward growing business. However, only 13 percent of those managers called themselves “excellent” at using Facebook and Instagram.
"For the people who are here, we think the training is excellent,” said Facebook Small Business VP Dan Levy. “They're going to get the training not only from Facebook experts, and from so many partners who are local to St. Louis. But they're also going to get to meet each other. And we know that part of building community is learning from each other as well."
While almost every St. Louis job seeker thinks digital skills are important, only 12 percent are confident in their abilities. That's why Facebook announced Monday it will provide digital marketing and social media training curriculum to several local non-profits, as well as partnerships for people who want to learn more about coding.
"A lot of people that we interact with at the Urban League don't have that base of knowledge. So we feel that once we get these people equipped, we'll give them a better ladder out of poverty," said Tom Bailey, VP of Development at the Urban League of Metro St. Louis.
While Facebook is at the top of news feeds lately for the wrong reasons, company executives say they are committed to earning back trust.
"If we can't earn people's trust and privacy, we don't deserve to have their information,” Levy said. “Trust and privacy are at the core of what we do. It's true for people and small biz and that's why we're here today."
Facebook still has availability for Community Boost sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Click here for more information.