Here's a Facebook initiative that's particularly close to my heart - in fact, close to my house (I could see the flames at one point).
This week, Facebook has announced a new set of support measures for businesses impacted by the recent Australian bushfires, in order to help them make best use of the platform to get their operations back on track.
As per Facebook:
"Australia is going through a difficult time. Unprecedented bushfire events have taken a huge toll on communities across the country. If your small business has been affected by bushfires please [get in touch] and a Facebook Small Business Support Specialist will reach out to understand your business challenges and offer guidance and assistance."
Facebook is offering a range of free assistance measures, including general Facebook business Page coaching and advice, one-on-one business consultation with a Facebook Small Business Support Specialist, and $200 in Facebook ad credits for those in the impacted regions.
In addition to this, Facebook will also be running a series of workshops in bushfire hit towns, in order to help "empower local businesses and communities with the digital skills to thrive online".
The workshops will be hosted by a member of the Facebook Community Trainer Network, and will cover everything from the basics of managing your presence online, to using ad targeting tools. The workshops will also include specific content for tourism businesses, in order to help encourage more visitors back to fire-ravaged regions.
This is particularly important for one of the hardest-hit areas - the south east coast of New South Wales is a popular tourist destination, and this year's bushfires have decimated the economies of various local communities who rely on the holiday influx to survive.
More than 2,000 homes were lost in the New South Wales bushfires, with the Insurance Council of Australia putting the estimated damage bill at more than $700 million in property alone. And that doesn't account for expanded impacted on farms, resources, and indeed, local businesses, nor does it factor in the ongoing human impact of the traumas local residents have faced.
It's good to see Facebook offering assistance to these towns, and making an effort to actually be present in the communities to provide direct advice and notes.
Businesses in bushfire impacted regions can fill out this form for more information.