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Step-up of the digital transition among VSEs/SMEs: strong participation in the Foliweb webinars

Home > Observatory and resources > News > Step-up of the digital transition among VSEs/SMEs: strong participation in the Foliweb webinars

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50 workshops, 15,703 participants in two and a half months: a record for the Foliweb sessions created in 2013! As a comparison, in 2019, the Foliweb workshops were attended by 17,000 people over the entire year for all formats combined.

Since 16 March, Afnic, the association responsible for .FR domain names, and its partners 1&1 Ionos and Neocamino, have continued to run online and entirely free sessions to accompany and support VSEs/SMEs in their everyday lives when it comes to digital tools and to train them in best practices.

With participation in the digital workshops up 343%, this initiative has more than ever provided a relevant response to the needs and expectations of companies, tradesmen and women, and entrepreneurs.

Concrete topics to meet the challenges of visibility

Learning to build a website or an e-commerce store in a few simple steps, using social networks wisely, boosting their SEO, increasing sales thanks to membership, managing a brand’s online image, creating mail shots while respecting the personal data of customers and prospects… a range of concrete topics that respond to the everyday concerns of businesses. All critical issues to help VSEs and SMEs succeed on the web by launching or improving their online presence at a time when physical distancing looks set to continue.

Popular among young individual firms and VSEs

It is interesting to note the profile of the businesses, entrepreneurs and tradesmen and women who participated in these sessions, with individual firms and VSEs accounting for 59%:

  • almost one third, 29%, self-employed workers
  • 16% freelancers
  • 14% VSEs

Another observation from the Foliweb sessions has been the marked interest in digital tools during the business start-up phase, with 74% of businesses in their first 3 years of activity:

  • 35% under construction
  • 24% with less than 1 year’s activity
  • 15% are between 2 and 3 years old

One last figure that stands out is that out of all of the Foliweb participants, 55% do not have a website.

The Foliweb workshops have been a growing success year on year since their creation, but we had no idea that our digital formats would attract such high participation rates. This is another lesson to come out of the crisis: it has made people realise the importance of digital technology in a company’s global strategy in order to be visible, to appear in search engine results, and to maintain a connection with the company’s customers and potential prospects,” explains Pierre Bonis, CEO of Afnic.

These results and this record participation rate can be compared to a survey conducted by the start-up Episto* on behalf of Afnic in April 2020 in order to understand the practices of VSEs/SMEs during lockdown. Out of the sampling of respondents, of which 71.8% were individual firms and 21% companies with 2-5 employees, the findings showed that the use of digital technology was a decisive factor in maintaining contact with customers: indeed, almost 54% had stepped up their presence on social networks and 76% considered that the Internet had been useful during the crisis (of which 28% felt that it had been more useful than previously). Finally it should be noted that 40% of the respondents in this survey stated that they did not have a website, thus confirming the trend from the Foliweb sessions.

*survey conducted among 500 owners and managers of small companies using a questionnaire sent via Messenger thanks to the Episto solution. Information collected from 21 to 27 April 2020.

About the Foliweb workshops

The Foliweb workshops are part of Afnic’s Ré [Succeed with .fr] programme, an initiative launched with its partners 1&1 Ionos and Neocamino. They have one objective: to help VSEs, entrepreneurs and freelancers succeed on the web. The experts that run these workshops give advice to professionals on the use of social networks and digital tools. Since their launch in 2013, the Foliweb sessions have supported several thousand VSEs across France.

About Afnic

Afnic is the acronym for Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération, the French Network Information Centre. The registry has been appointed by the French government to manage domain names under the .fr Top Level Domain. Afnic also manages the .re (Reunion Island), .pm (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon), .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), .wf (Wallis and Futuna) and .yt (Mayotte) French Overseas TLDs.

In addition to managing French TLDs, Afnic’s role is part of a wider public interest mission, which is to contribute on a daily basis, thanks to the efforts of its teams and its members, to a secure and stable internet, open to innovation and in which the French internet community plays a leading role. As part of that mission, Afnic, a non-profit organization, has committed to devoting 11% of its Revenues from managing .fr Top Level Domain to actions of general interest, in particular by transferring €1.3 million each year to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity.
Afnic is also the back-end registry for the companies as well as local and regional authorities that have chosen to have their own TLD, such as .paris, .bzh, .alsace, .corsica, .mma, .ovh, .leclerc and .sncf.

Established in 1997 and based in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Afnic currently has nearly 90 employees.