Christmas is now only 75 days away, so if you don't have your holiday campaigns locked in, it's time to get moving.
Indeed, Facebook says that nearly half of US shoppers start shopping for the holidays in November or earlier. If you're not mapping out your connection strategy, you're going to start missing out on opportunities very soon.
To help with this, Facebook has this week launched two new features which are designed to help businesses make the most of their holiday push.
The first element is a new set of customizable Stories templates for use across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
As you can see here, the new templates provide simple, visually effective Stories presentation options which brands can use to showcase their offerings.
And given the rising popularity of Stories, they'll no doubt prove popular. If you've been looking for a way to branch into Stories, these templates could be a good point to start from.
- Create your image ad at the Ads level
- Choose 'Select a placement to customize' then select Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories or Messenger Stories
- A pop up will open (you can also reach the pop up by choosing the Edit button above Ad Preview)
- Choose 'Change Template' to choose a template. Preview your ad on the right.
There's a range of additional customization options to choose from within the creation flow, including background color, music and call to action effects.
That does, of course, mean that you need to use them within paid promotions, but you can also download them for re-use as organic stories.
Facebook does note that the feature is being rolled out gradually, so if you're not seeing it yet, you will soon.
Facebook's also looking to provide more ways for brands to shift into private messaging, this time via Instagram Direct.
Adding on to the capability to manage your Messenger and Instagram Direct messages from your Facebook Page, Facebook is also adding Instagram Direct functionality which will enable businesses to:
- Add labels to contacts, including 'VIP' and 'New Customer' in order to provide more context about each
- Search through contacts to find what and who you're after faster
- Used saved replies in Direct to streamline responses for common queries
- Set up instant replies and away messages, which you can set to respond at different times
- Sort Direct messages into dedicated folders to better manage response
More customers are looking to engage with brands via messaging, and messaging use is clearly rising on Instagram, as evident by the recent addition of its separate 'Threads' app. Worth noting too that Instagram is working on adding Direct capabilities to its desktop version, which could make it easier for brands to manage their messaging workflow, incorporating Instagram DMs.
The announcements come as Facebook launches a new 'Boost with Facebook Holiday Bootcamp' initiative, which will see The Social Network open its offices across 17 cities worldwide to provide training in order to help brands maximize their holiday campaigns.
Facebook says that more than 140 million businesses use its apps every month "to find new customers, hire employees and engage with their communities". In addition to the bootcamp event, Facebook says that it will host over 200 free training events for small businesses and nonprofits around the world this year as it looks to improve digital literacy, and keep marketers coming back to The Social Network.
It's clear that Facebook can have a major impact on business growth, and these tools and initiatives add to that capacity - but Facebook has also caused marketers plenty of headaches with its various algorithm shifts and strategic updates. Improving your understanding of Facebook's systems will help in this respect, but broader digital marketing knowledge will also help safeguard you against over-reliance on one network, which can change the rules on you at any time.
But whether you undertake Facebook's training courses or not, these new business additions could provide significant benefits.