The social media giant said the new features will be helpful in an era where “people will want to easily discover products and services, get support and ask questions right from chat, and conduct transactions, all while having more control over their personal information.”
The privacy-driven policy that restricts Facebook from tracking people across iOS apps for targeted ads, has been widely accepted by users of iPhones, leaving the social network with no choice than to seek alternatives for its advert-based enterprise.
Facebook has been at the receiving end of heavy criticism over how it uses personal information, and many users are seeing the iOS policy update as a succor to their concern that their private information may someday be mishandled. Against this backdrop, Facebook is rolling out new features that will allow businesses to better position themselves in front of relevant audiences.
These new features are interconnected with Facebook’s sub-companies to enable businesses to have access to ads and interact with their customers.
“We want our family of apps to be the best place for businesses, especially SMBs, to run their business online. That’s why we are announcing new products to help businesses connect with their customers and simplify day-to-day management,” the company said.
Facebook has been expanding on e-commerce with features such as Marketplace and the newly introduced business directory on WhatsApp, which allows consumers to find shops and services on the chat platform.
As part of its push to create a business environment independent of third party services, Facebook has been trying many new features. TechCrunch noted that earlier this year began testing a way for customers to explore businesses from underneath News Feed posts by tapping on topics they were interested in — like beauty, fitness and clothing, and exploring content from other related businesses. The feature allows people to come across new businesses they may also like, and would allow Facebook to create its own data set of users who like certain types of content. Over time, it could possibly even turn the feature into an ad unit, where businesses could pay for higher placement.
For now, Facebook will expand this feature to more users across the U.S., and launch it in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the U.K.
The company has emphasized on using chat messaging to help businesses and customers communicate across its platforms.
“We are investing across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, in business messaging tools as well as omni-channel communication tools such as email. We’re using our expertise in person-to-person messaging to simplify person-to-business communications. These new tools are built to drive better business results across the customer journey – from higher-quality leads, to incremental sales, to higher customer satisfaction at lower cost,” the company said.
This means it will become easier for businesses to chat with customers, buy ads that encourage people to message them on Facebook’s various chat platforms — Messenger, Instagram Direct or WhatsApp, and also be able to choose all the messaging platforms where they’re available, and Facebook will default the chat app showcased in the ad based on where the conversation is most likely to happen.
The company will tie WhatsApp to Instagram, as well, as part of this effort. Facebook explains that many businesses market themselves or run shops across Instagram, but rely on WhatsApp to communicate with customers and answer questions. So, Facebook will now allow businesses to add a WhatsApp click-to-chat button to their Instagram profiles.
The company also announced new updates to Facebook Business Suite, where new technologies like automation, and simplifying how businesses manage their digital presence, have been featured. This will help businesses to focus on reaching their customers and growing their business.
Facebook said it is also introducing File Manager, a new feature that allows businesses to easily create, manage and post content within Facebook Business Suite, and also making post testing available in Facebook Business Suite to let businesses test and compare multiple versions of a post to see which one people are more likely to engage with.
Other new products include tests of paid and organic lead generation tools on Instagram; quote requests on Messenger, where customers answer a few questions prior to their conversations; and a way for small businesses to access a bundle of tools to get started with Facebook ads, which includes a Facebook ad coupon along with free access to QuickBooks for three months or free access to Canva Pro for three months.
Facebook said it plans to incorporate more content from creators and local businesses and new features that let users control the content they see.