There’s a bit to take in here.
Today, Facebook has announced a raft of new tools to help businesses establish more direct connection with prospective customers, with a specific focus on personalized messaging, while it’s also looking to improve business discovery, and provide new management options to better facilitate business activity and reach.
The updates are part of Facebook’s broader business push, which includes Facebook Shops, with Facebook looking to ensure that ‘the best dollar people spend each day’ is on Facebook.
Which is a somewhat odd statement, but nevertheless, there are some valuable and potentially significant new elements in this new release.
Here’s what’s coming to your Facebook business tools.
First off, Facebook is launching new click-to-message ad options, which will expand your capacity to engage with customers in different messaging apps.
As explained by Facebook:
“Businesses can already buy ads that encourage people to message them, whether in Messenger, Instagram Direct or WhatsApp. Now, businesses can choose all the messaging platforms where they’re available to chat, and we’ll default the chat app in your ad based on where a conversation is most likely to happen.”
As you can see in this image, now, when you create a message ad, Facebook’s systems will detect the messaging platform used most often by the individual user, then prompt them to message your brand on that service.
Which could be beneficial – according to Facebook, 75% of adults want to communicate with businesses via messaging. Which seems high, but even if that’s partially correct, providing a means for each individual to contact you on the messaging platform that they prefer could see increased response.
And once you have that more intimate connection, it can be a valuable tool for engagement and interaction, building a more personal, direct relationship with each user. Not all brands will benefit from click-to-message ads, but being able to incorporate all of Facebook’s messaging platforms in this way could be a good consideration for your experiments.
Worth noting too that Facebook also made Login Connect with Messenger generally available today.
Continuing the messaging theme, Facebook will also now enable businesses to add a WhatsApp click-to-chat button to their Instagram profile.
As you can see in this image, now, businesses will be able to add a ‘WhatsApp’ button to their profile to encourage profile visitors to get in contact via WhatsApp message.
That could help businesses that primarily focus on WhatsApp to maximize exposure and connection – and with Facebook also making WhatsApp business tools a bigger focus, and launching new features to help brands connect, Instagram could become a key visual accompaniment for the messaging platform.
Facebook also notes that, soon, businesses will be able to create ads that click to WhatsApp directly from the Instagram app.
The emphasis on WhatsApp business could be a major element in Facebook’s ongoing growth, with the messaging app already a key connector in developing markets like India. If Facebook can get more Indian businesses more reliant on WhatsApp, amid the rising eCommerce push, additional elements like these will play a big part in amplifying those efforts.
On its main app, Facebook’s also testing a new option that would enable businesses to select 4-5 questions to ask consumers prior to starting a messaging chat.
The idea is that this will help streamline business response by providing more context ahead of the chat, while it could also narrow down the info required to provide a quote for your query.
It’s similar to the automated reply options Facebook has provided in Messenger for some time, but by incorporating it into Facebook direct, it adds another way to once again spark conversation, and get that initial interaction moving, generating warmer leads.
Facebook also notes that it’s looking to test similar on Instagram in the coming months.
On another front, Facebook’s also adding new email and messaging capabilities to its Business Suite management platform, which will make it easier for businesses to manage their full marketing and outreach flow from the app.
The main addition on this front is the capacity to send re-marketing emails from Business Suite.
Facebook tested similar capacity in its Pages app last year, giving businesses the capability to send customized marketing emails via their Facebook Page. The expansion of email tools in Business Suite serves the same purpose, and moves Facebook’s marketing tools into a broader category, with more complete CRM capabilities via Facebook’s apps.
Which could be good, but also, it could lead to more businesses building more reliance on Facebook. Which has not always ended so well for brands in the past.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also adding a new File Manager option to Business Suite, which will make it easier to manage your Facebook content through the app, while it’s also adding Post Testing, through which brands will be able to compare multiple versions of a post to see which one people are more likely to engage with.
The process will enable businesses to upload up to four versions of their posts, which Facebook will then test with sample audiences to gather response data. You can then put ad spend behind the winner, which could drive better results.
On another front, Facebook’s also testing a new option called ‘Work Accounts’, which will enable businesses managers to utilize Facebook’s ad tools via a separate profile to their personal log-in.
“Business owners routinely tell us that they are looking for access to business products with separate credentials from their personal Facebook account. To simplify this, we’re testing Work Accounts, which will allow business users to log in and operate Business Manager without requiring a personal account. Businesses will be able to manage these accounts on behalf of their employees and have access to enterprise-grade features like single sign-on integrations, giving them more control over the security of their employees’ accounts.”
That could be particularly helpful for social media management teams and ad partners, who would then be able to access brand business accounts without needing credentials added to their personal profile.
Essentially, that would tie any changes on your account back to the business profile itself, which could lead to some challenges in tracking, especially if you have several people making changes to your brand info. But having the option to not use your personal log-in could be helpful, especially amid rising concerns about data privacy and exposure.
Facebook says that it’ll test Work Accounts with a small selection of businesses through the remainder of the year, with a broader roll-out planned for 2022.
And as it works to attract more businesses, Facebook’s also launching a new program that will incorporate third-party tools into a broader business start-up package.
“For example, we will start to allow some small businesses to access a bundle that will include valuable tools and benefits, such as a Facebook ad coupon, along with free access to QuickBooks accounting software for three months or free access to creative tool Canva Pro for three months.”
The idea here is to gather up as many prospective Facebook business partners as possible, amid the rising interest in online marketing. By providing a more comprehensive business offering, that could boost the appeal of Facebook’s services, and get more SMBs, in particular, on-board – which could see significant take-up in the post-pandemic recovery.
And finally, Facebook is also looking to expand its Business Explore program to more people in the US, as well as additional regions like Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
As you can see here, the Business Explore process, which Facebook initially began testing back in April, highlights related content from Facebook Pages below posts when users take the time to check out (or hover over) certain updates within their feed. From there, users are able to tap and discover similar brands and topics, helping to guide them towards more businesses in the app.
Facebook says that the option will help connect people with new and relevant businesses, while also helping brands reach new customers “and drive deeper consideration that can lead to purchases”.
Which is the real focus of all of these options – Facebook is looking to enable stronger brand connection through its tools, with direct linkage to messaging tools, which make it easier to get in touch, and establish a relationship with each user.
Which, as Facebook notes, leans into that desire for more personalized connection, but it may also help Facebook avoid at least some of the impacts of Apple’s app tracking update, which limits the amount of data it can collect on each users’ interaction with each brand.
If Facebook can provide more direct connection, that both Facebook and the brand can track, that could negate some of those impacts, while leaning into messaging will also be important for the next stage of post-pandemic re-opening, as more people look to get back out into the world.
And if Facebook can instill some of these elements as habitual behaviors, that could be a big win. And while its past efforts on this front (like Messenger Bots) haven’t really worked out, maybe now is the time to foster more immediate connection, which people are craving after being isolated from each other for so long.
Either way, some significant considerations for your marketing efforts are on their way, just in time for the holidays.