Game-Changing Facebook Updates & How They Affect Your Business

Takeaways for Businesses from F8 2019 – Facebook’s Annual Developer Conference

Maybe you’ve noticed a change: Facebook is no longer blue on your mobile device.

Then again, maybe you haven’t noticed a thing.  You’ve been too busy running your business, putting out fires, and managing people to notice something small, like the background color of an app.  We get it.  Nevertheless:

Facebook is getting one of the biggest face-lifts in its 15-year history.  And its changes are poised to help your business grow – if you know what to do.

In this article, we explain the biggest Facebook changes announced at the F8 Conference in May that will affect your marketing strategy and business growth.

To make things easy, we provide simple steps to incorporate these changes into your current digital marketing plan.

Why should you keep reading?  Because 97% of social advertisers choose Facebook as their most used and most useful social media platform.*  And because Facebook is getting a big overhaul. Which means if you are in business and want to use the “most useful” marketing platform, you must learn how to use it to the best of its capabilities.

Facebook Overhaul Overview:   

This May, Facebook unveiled major platform changes that had the developer and marketing worlds all abuzz.  Some of the biggest changes to note were design changes…and not just the blue logo.  The important changes in design reflected on Facebook’s new, central themes: “the future is private,” and “meaningful content rules.”  

At the F8 Conference, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and presenters explained just how the design changes would promote these central themes.

Three areas of design change which will uphold Zuckerberg’s drive for new meaning are:  

  • Facebook Groups will be at the center of prominence and strategy
  • Facebook Stories will have more visibility at the top of the interface
  • Facebook Messenger will be faster, easier to use, and include advertising features

These three areas of design change also have major potential to shape the way you should be attracting business, shaping your brand, and advertising on Facebook.

The rest of this article will detail these changes and guide you towards getting a competitive advantage now:

Facebook Groups

Background:

In 2017, Zuckerberg said 100 million Facebook users were part of meaningful groups.  In just two years, that number has jumped to 400 million people being part of such groups.

People go to Facebook Groups for an intimate, supportive, community geared toward a specific niche focus.  Currently, there is a wide variety of group categories for different interests.

In 2018, Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize content from groups.  Groups, friends, and other content “that matters,” took precedence on newsfeeds. The algorithm change also pushed organic content from business pages to the bottom of the newsfeed. Currently, an organic post from a business page only reaches 2-7% of their followers.

However, at F8 Conference, Facebook declared that Groups will have an even bigger prominence on the newsfeed, and beyond. 

Facebook is currently supporting this notion with its own advertising:

What You Need To Know Today:

Facebook Groups will strengthen your brand by creating a supportive, value heavy, niche community fostering brand “super fans” and word-of-mouth business referrals.

Here’s one large company’s success story with Facebook Groups:  

The Pelaton Phenomenon

Peloton, the brand behind the Peloton Bike and streaming fitness classes, has experienced much success with their Facebook Group. The Official Peloton Member Page, (which is the Group’s name) is a closed Group that was first started by a member in early 2015.

“Over the past three years, membership has grown from 1,300 to more than 116,000,” says Peloton’s VP of community Jayvee Nava, “Members invite their family, friends, and colleagues to join this positive and supportive community.”

The VP of Community for Peloton says the Group also sees increased engagement when the brand announces highly-requested new features.

“We notice that our posts usually spark other conversations among Members, which creates a domino effect,” says Nava, “We continue to ask our Members for suggestions for features once a month via our #FeatureFriday posts as well.”

Watch Out LinkedIn:

Facebook Groups can also help you easily find and connect with potential employees through their job opening template. This template in Groups makes it easier for job seekers to message your company and apply for a job directly through Facebook.

Overall, Facebook Groups Can Help You: 

  • Improve organic reach on Facebook
  • Move target customers through a sales funnel
  • Increase the number of natural influencers for your brand
  • Acquire key market research
  • Hire potential employees

Suggested steps in starting a Facebook Group:

  • Determine what niche, valuable content your brand will focus on
  • Set up your Group through your business Page
  • Choose a primary administrator from your company or from your branding agency
  • Create a content calendar and post regularly
  • Create exclusive, engaging content for your Group
  • Monitor Group discussions while letting your Group members shine

If you need help planning and creating any of the steps above, we are here to guide you.  One of our clients, recently saw a 36% increase in group members in one month after we took over their Facebook Group.

Facebook Stories

Background:

Facebook Stories was launched in 2016 following the huge success of SnapChat Stories and Facebook’s own Instagram Stories. 

In only a few short years, Facebook Stories is on track to beat Snapchat with 150 million daily active users, according to data from Facebook**.  At the F8 Conference, Facebook announced that Stories will have a featured spot with larger icons located at the top of the feed.

Currently, stories type media is growing faster than media in the feed.*** Therefore, since this is a focus of Facebook, it should be a focus for your marketing department – both organic and sponsored on Instagram and Facebook.  Don’t miss the opportunity to connect to people via Stories as it could be a new audience to reach.

What You Need To Know Today:

Video and ad creation for stories media will put your brand where growth is happening, increasing engagement across top social media platforms.

Stories tend to be more organic, spontaneous and more naturally produced.  They are a form of personal communication between you and your audience.  This means you can get content out to your audience in a time saving manner while also showcasing your brand’s lighter side.  A humble, selfie-like presentation can be very inviting for new potential fans.

Businesses have already seen success with Instagram Stories. For example, 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses. **** Instagram stories are also now sharable to Facebook stories.

With all of this in mind, it’s time to focus on creating stories media that will talk to people where they are listening.

 

Overall, Facebook Stories Can Help You:

  • Expand your reach on Facebook to the stories audience
  • Speak naturally, without much production, to your audience
  • Drive traffic to your regular feed, blog posts, website, or landing page
  • Gain customer feedback with polls and questions

Suggested steps in mastering stories:

  • Determine casual, behind-the-scenes type content valuable for customers
  • Include vertical video, graphics, polls, CTAs and re-posting in your strategy
  • Create a content calendar and post Facebook Stories regularly
  • Always check your analytics/insights and compare the performance of your stories to know what works best in your niche

If you need help planning and creating any of the steps above, we are here to guide you.

Facebook Messenger

Background:

In April 2014, Facebook required all users to download a separate Messenger app in order to message between users.*

Currently, the Facebook Messenger app is the second most downloaded app of all time, right after Facebook. It even beats out Instagram!

Today businesses are using Messenger as a customer support option to help retain customers and answer their questions. A Messenger bot can present product options to customers, helping them find the perfect product. The platform even allows businesses to accept payment right from Messenger.

Businesses definitely are a big part of messenger’s success, as there are over 40 million active businesses messaging people across the globe.

Yet, these numbers, while huge, present only 31% of businesses on Facebook.**

Meaning there is a big opportunity to reach your audience in an unsaturated media that is poised for growth and further optimization.

What You Need To Know Today:

Facebook Messenger will become better, faster and more commonly utilized so it’s time to get the basics down now.

At the F8 Conference, Facebook executives said they will be “rebuilding the infrastructure of Messenger from the ground up to deliver a lighter, faster, simpler messenger.”*

There are so many things you can do with Messenger from a business perspective and Facebook’s plans are to grow and nurture these features:

Lead generation with Facebook Messenger:

Facebook is currently beta testing lead generation templates inside Ads Manager. Customers will be able to receive an automated message allowing Facebook Messenger to handle conversations surrounding product questions, etc.

The automated conversations would make it easier to generate and convert leads.

According to Facebook, General Motors used the feature to generate 3,000 leads over an eight-week span, and the company converted at a rate of 30% higher than other digital marketing channels.

Appointment Booking with Facebook Messenger:

People are also using Messenger to book appointments with businesses. To make this process even easier, Facebook created an appointment booking interface which can be integrated with a business’ calendaring system, so people can see all available appointments.  Appointment booking through Messenger can be used across industries from restaurant reservations to haircut appointments, test drives and more.

In addition to these exciting improvements, Facebook also announced a new dedicated desktop version of messenger which will allow small group conference calls (up to 6 participants) on the video call.*

Overall, Facebook Messenger Can Help You: 

  • Promote products
  • Communicate with customers
  • Solve customer problems
  • Improve overall customer satisfaction

Suggested Steps For Using Messenger:

  • Learn the basics. Here is a great walk-through on Facebook’s website.
  • Earn a “very responsive to messages” badge by being faster with your response time
  • Design a character or icon for a messenger bot
  • Keep your bot’s language conversational and not too lengthy
  • If you are an SMB or newer business, keep it simple for now as changes happen fast
  • If you are a large brand you will want to hire someone to handle your messenger campaign to gain subscribers and deliver consistent messaging

If you need help planning and creating any of the steps above, we are here to guide you.

Summary

By now you’re probably wishing that the ONLY change to Facebook was the blue background.  We know!

The changes stemming from the Facebook F8 Conference are broad and essential. There are a number of new things to consider moving forward with your marketing plan and you can take the following with heart:  Facebook Groups, Facebook Stories, and Messenger will be central to business growth.

If you are curious about how to best utilize these tools for your business’s success, contact us for a free brand consultation today.

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Want to watch the F8 Keynote for yourself? Here is the 13-minute version you can watch before your next meeting! F8 Keynote 

Sources:

  1. Sprout Social Index 2018,https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/
  2. https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/17/facebook-stories-150-million-users/
  3. https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/02/stories-are-about-to-surpass-feed-sharing-now-what/
  4. https://embedsocial.com/blog/instagram-stories-analytics/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook_Messenger#History
  6. https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-statistics/
  7. https://messengernews.fb.com/2019/04/30/messenger-at-f8-2019-announcing-a-faster-lighter-messenger-designed-to-build-closer-connections/
  8. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/12/introducing-group-video-chat-in-messenger/