Social network Facebook is to offer £4.2m worth of free advertising to small businesses across Europe.
Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, today announced that 50,000 small businesses in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy will have the chance to claim up to £80 of ad credits to use on Facebook.
How companies can access the offer has not yet been revealed. A spokesperson told BusinessZone.co.uk that the details will be announced during the coming weeks.
Also announced today was a series of 'Facebook for Business' roadshows to be held across the UK over the next six months. Run in conjunction with the British Chambers of Commerce, each event will help small businesses build and maintain a Facebook page, engage fans and master Facebook advertising.
In addition, Facebook has entered into a partnership with a small business community Enterprise Nation for the delivery of e-book toolkits to help small businesses and start-ups build their presence on the social network.
Again, exact details have not yet been confirmed and the events or the e-books.
News of the small business initiative were released alongside a report conducted by accountants Deloitte
which claimed that Facebook supports £1.14bn in 'business participation effects' as businesses use Facebook's pages to promote their brand. This activity, the study said, supports 18,400 jobs.
Speaking at the DLD conference in Munich, Sandberg said: "Today's report shows that Facebook is about a lot more than sharing pictures or keeping up with friends; increasingly social media means growth and jobs.
"As the Deloitte study highlights, social media is proving particularly valuable for small and medium sized businesses, which form the backbone of the European economy.
"The impact of social media is a bright spot in challenging times, but growth won't happen on its own. We need to make sure that we invest in the right education, training, technology and networks so that social media can continue to drive innovation and economic growth."
Click the link below to read the full Facebook report.