Now that Facebook is a public company, it's more focused on businesses than ever before. Facebook has been a tremendous tool for businesses for years (some businesses more than others), but the company is doing more with Facebook ads and Facebook Pages than any other time I can remember.
Which Facebook Page feature do you find the most effective for marketing? Customer engagement? Conversions? Let us know in the comments.
Last week, we took an in-depth look at whether or not Facebook ads are worth the money. Today, we're going to focus on all of the things Facebook is doing for Facebook Pages, which are business' free advertising and engagement vehicles. A recent study found marketers agreeing that Facebook is vital, but Facebook ads are not. That means having a solid Facebook Page, and placing a great deal of your company's efforts on that.
Reaching users with the Facebook page, however, isn't as easy as it used to be. Facebook did recently start showing you the percentage of your fans any given post reaches, at least. If you want to reach more, you can pay for it. Of course, your Page posts show ads for other businesses, and Facebook may even be increasing the number of ads it shows on these in some cases. They also started rotating ads for users that stay on pages for a long enough amount of time.
There has been a lot going on in the world of Facebook Pages, not only since the IPO, but this month alone. On July 10, Facebook announced that Page admins are able to change their vanity URLs (one-time only).
Facebook added location tagging for page admins so they can let fans know where they're posting from:
Facebook also began rolling out the Timeline format for Pages on mobile devices. Many businesses found this layout nice for providing interesting experiences for their companies, and given that more and more people are using their mobile devices to access the web (and Facebook), this should help get users more engaged with businesses who take advantage of the Timeline in creative ways.
More good news for businesses heavily using Facebook Pages as their primary social tools: Facebook is promoting interaction with Pages that users' friends like. Some users aren't very happy with this feature, but it does mean free promotion for the Pages have content appearing in people's news feeds.
As recent as Monday night, Facebook made an announcement about things it is doing to make it easier to market Pages.
For one, they've added a new way to schedule Page posts, with the Pages Graph API. You can schedule posts to be published in as little as 10 minutes or as much as 6 months in advance. Posts can be deleted ahead of time, of course (as long as it's more than three minutes ahead of time).
There's another new feature called Unpublished Page Posts. These are posts that don't appear on your actual Timeline.
"Admins frequently want to create Page posts that they can sponsor," explains Facebook's Omid Saadati. "However, these Page posts usually contain information that are relevant to only a segment of the Pages's audience, e.g., 50% off all women shoes in all the bay area stores. Moreover, these stories don't contain information that is relevant to the Page's identity and story, which is characteristic of the content that should be on the Page's timeline."
The posts don't appear on the Timeline, but they appear on the right hand side column, and not on the news feed. These can also be created using the Graph API.
Finally, Facebook has given admins the ability to extend permissions.
"Many Page admins use third party tools for Page content creation, moderation, engagement, or ad creation," explains Saadati. "These use cases require a Page admin to grant permissions for managing the Page to a third party app. However, usually such an app doesn't require full admin permissions."
"For example, imagine an ads management platform that creates page posts sponsored stories and monitors Pages' insights," he continues. "Such an app requires permissions for managing ads for the page and reading the page's insights, but it doesn't need permissions for creating page posts and monitoring posts' comments. The Page admin can add the admin of the ads platform as a Page admin with Ads Creator permission. Then, the Page's access token that the ads management platform receives, will be granted with only managing ads and reading insights permissions for the page."
Beyond all of this, Facebook has even more going on behind the scenes that could mean big things for Page owners. The company is currently testing a "Subscribe" button for Pages.
Facebook launched the Subscribe button for users last year. This enabled users to get updates from people without being their actual friends. It only applied to public posts, of course. But with Pages, posts are public, so why would you need this? Isn't "liking" a Page enough? Not anymore. Users are not seeing all of the content from all of the pages they like, just like they're not seeing all the posts from all of their friends. A subscribe button could mean that users will actually see more of your Page's posts. Maybe. With the regular subscribe button, users can choose to receive all posts, most posts or just important posts (as determined by Facebook, of course).
According to Facebook, however, the purpose of the Subscribe button (which is only being tested with a small number of users at this point), is so people can subscribe to a page's posts without actually "liking" them. Presumably, users could do both though. In theory, if I liked a brand - Radiohead, for example - and I wanted to make sure I saw everything they posted, I could like them, and subscribe to them, selecting the "all updates" option.
All of these Page features are just a handful of the things Facebook is doing to make itself more valuable to businesses. It's looking like Facebook is going to get more useful for direct e-commerce as well. Beyond the company's banking and payments aspirations, rumor has it that Facebook may soon be offering businesses a "want" button, which would seem right at home next to a "like" button on product pages, providing more free marketing for businesses.
Facebook is also said to be having talks with Walmart, and it's yet to be seen what might come of that.
Do you consider Facebook to be a vital tool for running a business? Do you like the changes they're making? Which ones do you think benefit businesses the most? Which won't work? Share your thoughts in the comments.