An Aberdeen business group is calling on Facebook to support north-east companies get back on their feet in the same way DC Thomson and the Evening Express are.
Aberdeen Inspired has asked the social media giant to ease restrictions on firms’ Facebook pages in order for them to be seen by the largest number of people as possible.
It comes as DCT Thomson and the Evening Express editorial and commercial teams have been working with more than 500 businesses to help and support their individual needs through this pandemic.
Aberdeen Inspired is also calling for a meeting with Facebook to discuss ways in which the US company can assist struggling businesses.
The letter has also been sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for his support on the matter.
Aberdeen Inspired has asked the social media company to temporarily increase the reach of posts by businesses so that it can reach all followers with news of re-opening and hygiene measures.
Chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired Adrian Watson said: “Towns and city centre businesses are now going through a painful transition, small businesses have to pay to expand their reach when they are already struggling.
“Media outlets are helping with that, DC Thomson is a good example, it’s happening across media outlets across the world.
“Many of us have battled through both personal and business pain over the past few months and rightly followed the lockdown guidelines put in place to protect the NHS and save lives.
“Many businesses have spent years and many thousands of pounds building up their followers and page likes on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
“As businesses reopen, almost all will have critical safety messages to communicate with the public regarding social distancing and hygiene measures. Should Facebook continue to limit reach, these messages could be missed, potentially putting people in harm’s way.
“We have written to Facebook asking them to change their algorithm or give free post boosts to businesses for up to 12 months. Even short-term help would be welcomed by businesses, given that Facebook has become the primary communication channel for a vast number of organisations.”
David Groundwater, development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said DC Thomson has been providing support and marketing opportunities for firms and Facebook and social media in general also has a part to play.
He said: “As we gradually move out of lockdown and to a new normal, many businesses will be keen to not only demonstrate the steps they have taken to meet social requirements, but also that they’re once again open for business.
“We’ve been pleased to support marketing opportunities and support via the DC Thomson titles across the country. Additionally, in the last month, we’ve helped small businesses across the UK access £4.5 million In tailored advertising.
“Online marketing through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will play an important role for many, but our research shows that almost a quarter of small business owners believe a lack of basic digital skills amongst them and their staff is holding them back from boosting their digital and online presence.
“At this time, it is critical that businesses improve their reach and visibility of products and services.”
Facebook has said the more people are active and engaged with stories that appear in their news feed, the more likely they are to be active and engaged with content from businesses. Posts are prioritised based on ranking factors for each individual user.
The social media firm also said it has taken a number of steps to support businesses during Covid-19, including launching Facebook Shops to “relieve some of the pressures businesses are facing right now” and setting up a resource hub to help small and medium businesses which provides recommendations and training resources on how to keep customers connected.
Phil Prentice, Chief Executive Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and National Programme Director for Scotland’s Improvement Districts added, “Facebook often faces questions around transparency and taxation, perhaps they could improve their image by providing some payback to the thousands of small Scottish businesses who in better times have paid handsomely for advertising and boosting; a simple measure to protect future revenue streams while helping wider society should be a no brainer for Facebook to agree to”.