This is a big one - Facebook is rolling out a bunch of updates for business Pages in order to make it easier for local businesses in particular to maximize their exposure on the platform, and to utilize customer word of mouth more effectively.
First off, Facebook’s adding Recommendations to Pages, which will enable users to post a written review of your business, and can include text, photos and a new option - related business tags.
The new Recommendations will need to be at least 25 characters long (to make reviews more meaningful) and will be featured prominently on Pages.
And while adding the capacity to include direct recommendations, with images, is a big change, it’s the new tags which are likely to be the least understood, at least initially.
Essentially, Facebook’s tags work like hashtags for businesses, with suggested tags generated based on keywords from past recommendations, or they can be manually added in.
Facebook says that the tags will make it easier for users to understand what your business is known for, while they’ll also help Facebook categorize your business for related searches. For example, the data included in the new recommendations, including tags, will help ensure your business comes up when people use question posts, seeking business recommendations.
But Recommendations and tags could also be used against Pages – competing business might post fake reviews or false keywords for example. To counter this, Facebook will also give Pages the ability to report content in Recommendations which is “fraudulent, spam or paid for”.
You can read more info about the new Page tags here.
In addition to this, Facebook will also enable Pages to include a “prominently featured set of action buttons on Pages”, which will enable visitors to do things like book an appointment, order food, send a message or write a Recommendation in as few clicks as possible.
The action buttons will relate to the Page template you choose – if you haven’t yet chosen a Page template for your business, you can read more about what they are and how to use them here.
The buttons are aimed at optimizing the process for mobile devices, limiting the amount of actions require. Pages have had a prominent CTA button available for some time, but the new options expand on this, making it easier for users to take more specific actions direct from the feed.
Facebook’s also expanding the visibility of Page Stories to boost usage among brands. Pages have had access to their own variation of Facebook Stories since late last year, but now, users will be able to view your Page story by tapping on your Page profile photo.
The functionality is much the same as Instagram Stories, where you can tap on the profile avatar to activate a Story – it may not seemingly add much to Stories functionality for Pages, but it makes Stories a little easier for visitors to check out, which could prompt more brands to post them, particularly given they’re featured in such a prominent Page location.
In addition to these updates, Facebook’s also rolling out:
- Updated product and services listings – Pages will now be able to feature information like hours, price range, Recommendations or a restaurant menu more prominently on their Pages, while service businesses will be able to highlight new content “such as your most recent Events and Offers”.
- Selling event tickets – Facebook’s also making it easier for businesses to sell tickets for Events directly on their Facebook Pages with new ticketing integrations. Facebook’s also adding new event-specific ad options to make promotion easier.
- Expanding job listings to all regions – And lastly, Facebook’s expanding its Page job listings to all people and businesses across the world. Facebook first opened job listings to North American businesses last year, and expanded them to more regions back in March. The option will be available on all Pages, globally, “within the next few months”.
There’s a lot to take in, a lot of new options to consider, and we won’t know the specific benefits of each element for some time, till we’ve had a chance to review what they all mean and how they contribute to growing traffic. Indeed, it’s difficult to even provide any estimate of just how beneficial Facebook’s new tools will be, particularly considering that Facebook has squeezed Page reach so much that it’s hard to get any traction at all on The Social Network.
Given Facebook’s past actions on this front, Pages might also be hesitant to invest too much time in implementing such new tools, knowing that Facebook could reduce reach even further in future – but as Facebook notes:
“80 million businesses rely on Facebook to maintain an online presence, communicate with customers and drive transactions”
Even with reach limitations, it’s hard to deny the benefits of Facebook for business, and The Social Network is embarking on various initiatives to help small businesses, in particular, make better use of their platform.
Given that focus, on helping improve community benefit, it wouldn’t make a heap of sense for Facebook to then turn around and reduce reach even further. But then again, that seems to have been Facebook’s pattern thus far, increasing reliance on Pages, then reducing reach, pushing brands to paid promotion options.
Either way you look at it, having a Facebook profile is a must for many brands, and with research also showing that Facebook is also now one of the most used web browser options in the US, facilitating a huge, and growing, amount of discovery activity, it likely remains a must for many local businesses in particular.
Worth considering how you can implement these new tools for your brand benefit.