Facebook is to establish an SME Council in Ireland as it aims to grow its usage amongst small businesses here.

The council comprises 14 Irish firms – including Life Style Sports and Obeo – and will be led by the company's SME manager for the UK and Ireland.

Facebook is trying to increase the number of companies that use its business tools to communicate with customers and make sales, with the council acting as a way of spreading its message among the business community.

However, the council will also serve to offer feedback to the social media giant, to give it a better idea of what local businesses need in order to expand online.

Facebook says it is giving SMEs access to digital strategies in an easy-to-use manner.

Speaking at the launch, Ciaran Quilty, Vice President of Small and Medium Sized Business in EMEA at Facebook said: "Facebook is delighted to be launching an SME Council here in Ireland.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, they drive economic growth and new jobs.

"Digital strategies, in particular mobile, can help businesses grow, and with 43m people in other countries connected to an Irish business on Facebook, the global market has never been closer to our SMEs." 

The members of the council are: Appassionata Flowers, Aran Sweater Market, Boutique Bake, Burren Perfumery, Folkster, Kerrigan's Craft Butchers, Lennon Courtney, Life Style Sports, Magee of Donegal, Obeo, Ronan Cullen Flooring, Strong Roots, and Well Nice Pops.