Have you heard that Facebook is changing Pages…again?
How would you like to market your products and services better on Facebook?
These changes are the biggest made to Pages since 2012. They build on Facebook’s recent announcement of new messaging capabilities for businesses and badges for companies that respond quickly. Today’s updates could make Facebook Pages a utility, not just a presence for businesses.
Facebook is making it easier for companies to advertise their goods and services and drive real business through call-to-action buttons that let people book appointments or make purchases, particularly on smartphones.
However Likes ≠ Dollars
Facebook wants Pages to actually earn money for the 45 million small businesses that use them. That may seem like a big number, but 35% of businesses in the US don’t have an online presence yet at all.
COO Sheryl Sandberg opened the press event for the updates at Facebook’s second Menlo Park office by saying “There’s nothing small about small businesses.” But she explained that building a mobile commerce experience is tough and expensive, especially for small businesses.
So today Facebook is upgrading Pages with a tabbed mobile layout that lets them display:
- Storefront “Sections” where users can “Shop” for products
- View a list of “Services” the business offers.
The company is also making calls to action on business Pages, such as “Call Now,” “Send Message” and “Contact Us,” bigger, more colorful and more prominent beneath the cover image.
Facebook is also testing Buy buttons that link out to a business’ traditional website.
Facebook also wants people to search for more business information within the Facebook app itself.
Facebook execs said on stage that the company is working on improving searchability. Meaning, if you search for something like “plumbers,” “event planning,” or “dresses” in the main Facebook app, you should find a bunch of businesses that would make sense for you.
Facebook has a ways to go to even come close to Google on search. Facebook will continue to drive search within it’s own app, hoping to keep you there longer.
There’s already a “Nearby Places” feature within the app, which lets people browse businesses near them by category, as well as “Place Tips,” which pop up on a user’s Facebook app when they’re near or visiting a business.
Facebook wants businesses to instead rely on their Facebook Pages. That’s why it’s starting to build out Sections specific to different types of businesses. Instead of businesses building an entire mobile website or app, they rely on Facebook Pages.
What Facebook pages may not be able to compete with, however, is a company’s discovery on search — something that has become the niche of review site Yelp and app Foursquare. In the past, Facebook page owners have expressed concern over falling victim to Facebook’s algorithm on News Feed.
With that said, I’m concerned about the balance of all this for small business. Facebook is well known for making changes constantly. Remember how you use to have organic reach for the LIKES you worked so hard to achieve? Now it’s down to <1-2%. Ouch!
So in order to reach more people, you have to advertise with Facebook. While business understands that Facebook is now public, it’s hurt their business and brand.
Remember ONE thing about Facebook, and other social media sites. It’s RENTED LAND!
I always advocate businesses having their own website and control of their brand.
The first step in this direction is the new sections, Shop and Services. Normally, businesses would have to constantly post about their products or services to make them immediately visible on their Pages.
Now they’ll have a prominent, dedicated section where they can sell their products and services.
Facebook’s mobile messaging app Messenger has become a big potential revenue source for customers, as the company allows mobile payments between Facebook users and allows transactions for shops. For now, Facebook is pushing its pages as “free” offerings to owners.
And if a business’s services require negotiation or deep customization, that can use a “Message To Buy” button that triggers an instant message conversation between the customer and business so they can hash out the details.
Previously, Facebook announced that users would be able to message Pages for support, and those that responded in under five minutes 90 percent of the time would get a “Very Responsive” badge of honor on their Page.
Tough metrics to meet, however Facebook says 500,000 Pages quickly were able to earn the badge.
If Facebook succeeds here, it will see small and medium-sized businesses directing mobile traffic to their Pages, rather than their websites.
This not only makes Facebook more useful for users, but it will act as a gateway to getting businesses to pay for ads promoting those Pages.
The more businesses we have on the platform and the more value they’re able to generate from their Facebook Pages…there could be benefits to our business more broadly.”
Will small businesses respond?
Facebook has had a complicated relationship with them. Initially it encouraged these businesses to create pages to reach Facebook fans, but then made changes to the News Feed Algorithm that limited the number of users who see posts from those pages. Now it’s around 1-2%.
- Earlier this year Facebook began filtering users’ News Feeds to eliminate many of the status updates they receive from businesses they’ve “liked” so they could see more updates from friends.
Some small businesses upset over their diminished reach on Facebook suspected the company was pushing them to buy advertising rather than post for free, (Pay to Play).
It hasn’t helped that Facebook ads are now costlier than they used to be as competition for ad space on Facebook has intensified.
Knowing the size and impact of small business. Facebook has stepped up its outreach to small businesses.
- It has added 5 million small and medium-sized businesses since April.
Wall Street analysts say the pages run by these businesses are a steady source of new advertisers for the company.
Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser says small and midsized businesses likely account for about a quarter of Facebook’s revenue, so billions of dollars, yet Facebook is still capturing a “very small” share of small businesses’ advertising spend.
Facebook has 2 million advertisers in all, so persuading even a small percentage of small businesses to start buying ads could significantly boost Facebook’s bottom line.
Phone Photos: Courtesy of Facebook
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Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.
Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.
Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.
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