Facebook overhauls offering for SMEs to suit mobile – and here’s how

There are now 45m active businesses on Facebook, with each using the platform to advertise new products, announce promotions and, most importantly, communicate with current and possible customers.

In the 11 years since Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg while at Harvard University, as a way for students to communicate with each other, it has become increasingly reliant on the presence of businesses and brands to accelerate growth.

Perhaps realising this, the powers that be at Facebook have made companies, and most speciality small and medium-sized enterprises, the subject of its latest update.

A million new businesses enter the Facebook domain each year, according to its director of global partnerships Benji Shomair, with growth of company pages surging by 12.5 per cent since April.

Facebook brings businesses and customers closer with private messaging

Earlier in September, rival social network Twitter announced it was targeting SMEs by scaling the Twitter Ads service to in excess of 200 markets. Working by pushing tailored tweets to users’ feeds to drive activity, the service launched for SMEs in the US in 2013 and then UK, Ireland and Canada later in the year.

In an interview with Real Business back in January 2015, SME regional director for Facebook Ciaran Quilty said the business was treating the British SME market like a “military operation”. He went on to say: “Part of the feedback we’d hear is that we need to make products a lot simpler so that’s what we did with things like lightweight interfaces, which essentially makes advertising as easy as posting a photo.”

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So just what are the new changes that Facebook has unveiled to supercharge the SME community? Firstly, it improved call-to-action buttons to make them more “prominent”. Whether it is encouraging a booking for enticing some to shop online, call-to-action buttons are a key part of a company’s Facebook page and are now more visible on mobile devices. It’s “bigger, brighter and directly under the Page cover photo”, Facebook said.

Facebook is also testing a number of new call-to-action buttons such as “call now”, “send message” and “contact us”.

On top of those alternations, new sections have been added to Pages so that different types of businesses can build original propositions. The new Shop section is believed to help retail enterprises bring products to the forefront of a page, while Services allows professional services entities to showcase a list offerings.

Pages layout on mobile is updated, meaning information is accessible without excessive scrolling and clicking. This is being done by giving each Page section a corresponding tab, similar to how videos and photos have dedicated tabs.

In a move that will reward companies for remaining active on Facebook, Business pages that reply to 90 per cent of messages and respond on average within five minutes will now get a green badge. However, this feature will be optional to not put too much pressure on small businesses which may not have the resources to reply so quickly.

It seems to all be centred around ease of use and originality. For businesses, and their leaders, to be consistently engaged then changes both large and small must be possible though a mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

SMEs are also not interested in having a generic page just like competitors. Facebook needs to provide the tools to add bespoke quality, creating an enticing destination for customers to arrive and and hopefully stay.

Facebook may own other social platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, but it does face fierce competition from rivals such as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and even business-orientated LinkedIn. Constant innovation is necessary, but only time will tell whether changes attract new businesses to set up Pages and satisfy existing users.

Do you use Facebook as a business owner? What kind of features do you think it should have? Let us know in the comment box below.

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