A new Deloitte study has analyzed the impact of Facebook Pages used by businesses, and it suggests that the social network has supported 35,200 jobs and contributed £2.2bn to the UK’s GDP, and £12.7bn across the whole EU.

At the DLD Conference in Munich today, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said that “Facebook is about a lot more than sharing pictures or keeping up with friends; increasingly social media means growth and jobs.” Whilst Sandberg said that social media is “a bright spot in challenging times,” she added:

“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.”

Sandberg went on to say that the so-called ‘App economy’ – applications built on top of the Facebook platform – alone is worth £467m to the UK, generating 7,500 jobs. She outlined the role that social media can play in small-to-medium sized businesses, and Facebook is now clearly ramping up its efforts to position itself as a serious advertising platform for business, as it prepares to IPO some time this year.

To help push itself as a platform for SMEs, Sandberg announced up to €5million, or £4.2 million, worth of ad credits for EU firms. The Europe-focused Ad Boost programme aims to reach some 50,000 small businesses across the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, and will offer firms the chance to claim up to €100, over £80, of ad credits. So in effect, the programme is designed to act as a carrot-on-a-stick for companies that have yet to advertise on Facebook, and perhaps tempt them away from existing online ad programmes with the likes of Google.

To help small businesses participate in the Ad Boost programme, Facebook has also announced 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 be geared towards helping small businesses build and maintain a Facebook Page and master Facebook advertising.

Facebook also announced a partnership with Enterprise Nation to support small businesses in UK, for the development and delivery of e-book toolkits to help small firms and startups build their Facebook presence. It also signed up to the Next Gen Skills campaign to help young people gain the right skills to join and lead the UK’s digital, creative and hi-tech industries.

“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,” added Sandberg.

The Next Web has been following all the key events from DLD this week, with the likes of Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales and eBay CEO John Donahoe taking to the stage to face questions earlier today.

As for Facebook, well, we can expect to see some more big moves from the social network in the business sphere in the year ahead, with its reported $100bn IPO rumored to be taking place in late May.

Meanwhile, check out this ‘The Value of Facebook’ infographic for a full breakdown of its worth in Europe:

FacebookInfographic 520x2549 Facebook says its worth £2bn to the UK economy, as it announces free ads for SMEs