It appears as though Facebook essentially wants businesses to think of their Pages as their websites. The company introduced new Page features for mobile devices aimed at getting businesses to provide the information people are looking for, helping them communicate with customers, and supporting their other goals.
Features include new and more prominent call-to-action buttons, new sections, and a new layout.
Do you think Facebook's new Page features will help you get more business out of your Facebook presence? Share your thoughts in the comments.
"Now that there are more mobile connections around the world than there are humans on the planet, people are spending more time on mobile, and they expect to be able to do more from their phones and tablets," the company says in a blog post. "They expect information to be available at their fingertips and that people and businesses will reply to their messages as soon as possible. These trends have far-reaching conclusions for businesses, the biggest of which is that it’s never been more important to make your business easily accessible on mobile."
Businesses have struggled greatly to respond to customers in an adequate fashion, but Facebook has been giving them tools to improve. Last month, they launched Page Messaging, giving customers more ways to send private messages to businesses and Page admins ways to manage and respond to those questions. Users can send Pages messages through local awareness ads, and Pages will see an attachment that shows the ad that prompted the message. Once a user initiates a conversation, the business can respond as they like.
Businesses can also now respond privately to public comments. When the business responds privately, the comment shows a note that the business did so so it doesn’t look like they’re ignoring it. Users have the option to block private messages from businesses. Pages who are “very responsive” to private messages (they respond to 90% of them and have a median time of less than five minutes) will get a “Very Responsive to Messages” badge on their profiles.
Since launching those features, Facebook has released a guide for Page admins with some advice on how to take advantage of them.
The newest features go well beyond responding to customer questions and concerns, extending into increased website-like functionality.
The new call-to-action buttons on mobile are bigger and brighter. They appear directly under the Page's cover photo making them significantly more prominent, and hopefully inspiring users to actually engage with the business based on a specific goal.
In addition to the new look, Facebook is testing new calls to action, such as "Call Now," l"Send Message," and "Contact Us". They'll continue to test additional calls to action in the future.
The new sections are particularly interesting as they enable businesses to prominently feature info that is specifically relevant to them. These include a "Shop" section that lets retail businesses showcase products and a "Services" section that lets service businesses showcase what they have to offer. These appear at the top of the Page.
Facebook says it will build additional Page section options in the future.
"As more people connect with Pages from phones and tablets, we want to make it easier to navigate through Pages on mobile," Facebook says. "We’re updating the Pages layout so information is easy to find without lots of scrolling and clicking. One way we’re doing this is by giving each Page section a corresponding tab, just like how videos and photos have their own tabs. When this new layout launches in the coming weeks, Page visitors will be able to click on the tab associated with a section to see more details. The Home tab, which is the landing tab on Pages, will also contain highlights of each section, so relevant information is front and center when someone first gets to a Page."
Some people are suggesting that all of this could eliminate the need for a website. I wouldn't go that far. It could eliminate the need to visit a business' website if you're a customer and find what you're looking for on the page, but many will continue to look for actual websites before Facebook pages, and businesses need to have a presence beyond Facebook for a variety of reasons (not least of which is the fact that Facebook can make changes at any time that have potentially dire effects). It's just common sense to maintain an actual website - something that's in your control and is visible beyond the proverbial Facebook wall.
That said, Facebook's new features do present opportunities to better engage with customers and potentially get more sales from an app where they're spending a great deal of their time. It may not make up for lost organic reach, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
Do you think Facebook is helping businesses with its new features? Will you take advantage of them? Discuss.
Images via Facebook