Facebook helps Little Rock business owners improve digital skills in growing tech world

A Facebook expert conducts a break-out session on utilizing Facebook for staff recruitment for small and medium sized businesses at Little Rock's Arkansas Repertory Theater on Tuesday, part of a two-day Facebook Community Boost event. (Photo: KATV)

In today's increasingly digital age, if a business owner isn't utilizing social media to their advantage they likely aren't getting noticed. A nationwide Facebook event seeks to help fledgling small businesses and non-profits improve their online literacy and digital skills for a ever-growing digital economy.

By day, Tamara Bates is a recruiter for Philander Smith College - but by night she calls herself a "business connector", helping to connect budding entrepreneurs with existing business owners and programs to assist in creating a new business through organization - the She's Dope Movement.

Bates said her organization is well-established on Instagram, but has yet to create a Facebook page to link up with potential connections. It's why Bates reserved a spot at Facebook's Community Boost event in Little Rock to help maximize her organization's online presence.

"Coming here today, it put a whole different level to knowing how to build those relationships via Facebook," said Bates.

Over the course of two-days, Facebook Community Boost is assisting people in setting up Facebook and Instagram pages, helping businesses and organizations optimize their content for use on a mobile-platform, to online security and how to better connect with niche consumer bases.

The social media leader is also hosting short seminars known as "break-out sessions" to make commerce and non-profit leaders aware of all the tools Facebook provides for businesses, including the tech-giant's "Jobs" function which allows businesses and organizations to post job openings and recruit employees all through the Facebook interface.

With nearly two-thirds of Americans using Facebook and 75-percent of them using it daily according to the Pew Research Center, social media proficiency is a must for survival even in Arkansas.

"We surveyed Arkansas," said Ana Martinez, public policy manager for Facebook. "Seven out of ten small and medium business owners said that one of the things they look to when hiring is whether or not digital skills are brought from that person that's coming in."

The growing need for social media skills is part of the reason Facebook announced on Tuesday that they're partnering with UA Pulaski Technical College to create a new digital marketing certificate program.

"We're one of about 20 community colleges nationwide to be partnering with Facebook to develop this curriculum," said Dr. Bentley Wallace, Dean of Technical and Professional Studies at UAPTC. "It'll be a big deal for Arkansas, a big deal for entrepreneurs and a way to expand our economy."

Wallace said development of the digital marketing curriculum is still in the beginning stages, but the college expects to start offering digital marketing courses close to the middle of 2019.

"Courses that are available in this program will range from one-day seminars, to two-to-three week seminars, all the way to semester-length credit-baring classes which can lead to a technical certificate or an associate's degree and beyond by working with UA Pulaski Tech," said Wallace.

The two-day Facebook Community Boost event continues on Wednesday at the Arkansas Repertory Theater in downtown Little Rock. Attendees are required to register for the event. For more information on the event - click here.

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