15 fast-growing UK small firms chosen for first Facebook UK SME Council

The new Facebook UK SME Council, which met for the first time on Tuesday May 9, forms part of Facebook’s efforts to stay attuned with the needs of huge numbers of British businesses using the social media platform for advertising and marketing.

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Facebook has brought together 15 rapidly growing British businesses to found the first Facebook UK SME Council, a group that will enhance connections between small firms and executives at the social media giant. This is not a workshop in business on Facebook, but a way for Facebook to better understand its users within the business world.

“There is no better way to understand the challenges that small businesses face… than by talking to them directly.”

There are more than 70m firms globally doing business on Facebook, using the social media platform for advertising, promotion and customer-relations. Facebook’s UK SME Council—which had its first meeting this week—constitutes the company’s effort to better understand the needs of entrepreneurs in the UK.

Facebook’s SEM director, Ciaran Quilty, told SmallBusiness.co.uk that talking to businesses directly was the best way “to understand the challenges that small businesses face, and the opportunities that exist to help them grow”.

The UK council would “give Facebook first-hand knowledge to improve our products and services on behalf of these important business owners, but also provide a forum for them to learn from other fast-growing, digitally innovative companies”.

The 15-strong Facebook UK SME Council includes:

Total Hockey, based in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, which has grown from a small shop in 2001 to become one of the world’s largest online hockey outlets, with an online international shipping operation and a state of the art ‘megastore’ in Main Street, Bainbridge.

Headquartered in Birmingham, England, Kings Barbers Club  is a leading UK barbershop chain, with expertise in classic scissor cuts, modern fades, expert clipper cuts, and luxury hot towel shaves.

Bloom & Wild is a successful online flower delivery business that’s currently stretching its wings across Europe, on foot of securing investment of £3.75m in February 2017.

TM Lewin is one of the longest established businesses on the Facebook UK SME Council. The classic business wear retailer has been providing the business world with shirts, suits and accessories since opening its very first store on London’s Jermyn Street in 1898.

According to business publication, RealBusiness.com, Bristol-based Mark’s Mobile Butchers has been running for fewer than six months, but has already scaled to two vans and 10 staff.

The Barn is a beauty salon in Loxton, Somerset, taking its name from its base, the refurbished oldest building in the village. This  multi award-winning beauty salon that has made its reputation on a range of unique, cutting-edge treatments, cosmetic procedures and holistic therapies.

An independent tea mixology company, the Bluebird Tea Company began life with proprietors Krisi and Mike packing tea in their bedroom for sale at markets, Three years on, Bluebird has garnered numerous awards, opened multiple retail stores and boasts a thriving international online store.

Based in the coastal Scottish Highlands village of Durness, Cocoa Mountain is a chocolatier renowned for freshly made truffles and its signature Hot Chocolate and Mountain Mocha beverages. Founded in 2006, Cocoa Mountain aims to deliver “the most unique chocolate experience on the planet”.

Shore Projects, launched in June 2014, is a classic wristwatch brand, with gorgeous timepieces inspired by the beauty of the British seaside, using the finest Swiss parts, precision manufacturing processes, and high quality Italian leather straps, all waterproofed to 100m.

Grabble is a personal stylist app, launched in 2013 and revolutionising how people discover and buy fashion. The app curates a constantly refreshed mix of the best fashion items from high street chains, cult brands, and rising designers. The aim is to offer mobile-shopping convenience for busy fashion-conscious people who want to spend more time wearing and less time looking.

Borrow My Doggy has a following of more than 240,000 on Facebook, so it’s little surprise that the sharing economy business has a place on the UK SME Council. The business aims to build dog-loving communities, by connecting dog-owners and ‘borrowers’ in their localities.

For Hiut Denim, the most important development in history occurred in 1873, when the patent was granted for the rivet-reinforced jean. The company has a jeans-only focus, and started life with five personnel, a workforce that has grown to 10, turning out 100 pairs of quality jeans per week.

Founded in 2012, Toucan Box packages themed monthly adventures for three-to-eight-year-olds. The company’s activity packages are designed by educational experts to challenge children’s problem-solving skills and aid creative development, as well as allowing them to have fun!

Bristol-based mother Mel Bound set up This Mum Runs in Bristol after her Facebook appeal for a running buddy prompted 75 replies from local mums within 10 minutes. One year on, This Mum Runs has grown to offer a range of services, including free social runs as well as paid-for courses and technique classes. Currently based in Bristol and Bath, This Mums Runs is now focusing on a national roll-out.

Cake Masters Magazine is a monthly cake decorating publication, launched in 2011, and now boasting a Facebook following just shy of 1m followers. It’s available as a hard copy publication in a range of leading UK news outlets and in electronic format from the iTunes App Store or GooglePlay.

The Facebook UK SME Council is the third such entity, after Germany and Italy, to be established in the region of Europe, the Middle East & Africa. Olly Sewell, senior manager of Facebook’s Small & Medium-sized Business (SMB) team for EMEA, told RealBusiness this week that the Council would meet for a full day at least twice annually.

He revealed that the inaugural meeting included sessions on product roadmap and product feedback, and also involved the council members sharing their SME challenges.

Sewell, who will take charge of running the UK SME Council, will bring executives from Facebook’s product and creative teams to listen to the SME representatives on the body, and share ideas with them.

“We’ll offer tips on best practice, having practical element sessions around the workplace, and break into real workshops with Facebook account managers for a deep dive into formats,” he said.

“We see businesses building all the time, so we hope these businesses will be working with us moving forward, effectively helping communities,” Sewell added.