Sum-up on Facebook’s Recently Launched Features

Sum-up on Facebook’s Recent FeaturesIn the beginning of February, Facebook Timeline was rolled out to all users.

Obviously, this also brought along changes for brand pages, such as having to adjust to the new Timeline design by creating new profile pictures, cover photos, tab images etc.

Restrictions related to these changes were made clear by Facebook, e.g. no price or offer information in the cover photo, no company information, no calls to action etc. In a previous post on our blog, we have listed some of the important guidelines for brands to follow in this regard.

Since then, Facebook has maintained their flow of introducing new features. In this post, I will therefore make a sum-up of them to give you an actual overview of the features relevant for brands to know.

Offers on Facebook:

By the end of February 2012, Facebook announced the launch of a new feature called Offers. Offers are basically coupons for people to redeem. The platform already began testing this feature last year. Facebook has previously launched Deals, which is a check-in product in relation to Places. Offers are however not location-based, but focus solely on the relation that the customer has with a given business on Facebook. If you are managing a business page, the Offers feature is a good way to combine online with offline activities and to directly engage customers in your products and services. Read more about it here.

“Facebook Terms and Policy Hub”:
In the beginning of May, Facebook launched a new site that tries to help all of their users navigate in the jungle that is Facebook’s terms and policies. With the “Terms and Policies Hub”, Facebook tries to meet the needs of both users, who are paramount the company, and the advertisers, who are the ones bringing in the money. “Facebook Terms and Policies” is thus a helpful tool for both users and advertisers to navigate in the expanding policies.

Assign Admin Roles:
Facebook has also launched a feature that makes it possible to assign different roles to the admins of a Facebook page. There are five different roles to choose from as seen below: Manager, Content Creator, Moderator, Advertiser and Insights Analyst. The different roles give admins different levels of access to functionalities, which you can read more about here.

Sum-up on Facebook’s Recent Features

Switch Region:
This feature will be welcomed by international Facebook pages, who are running several localized presences on one global page. So far, we have only seen this in testing on the Facebook Marketing page, but we anticipate that it will be launched some time in the near future. The ‘switch region’ feature means that brands will be able to gather all their local brand pages on one centralized global page at the same time as they can customize content with regional filters. Instead of having a page for each country, there are thus several local pages within one centralized brand page, which users themselves can choose to switch between. The page will have a unified number of Likes for the entire page, but the ‘talking about this’ number will vary according to region. Read more about it here.

Schedule Updates:
A new functionality that will definitely be welcomed by page admins is the ability to schedule updates. Many admins are using content management tools for their mere need of scheduling. When writing an update, you are now able to choose date and time below the update field. Your scheduled posts will then appear in your ‘activity log’ in your admin panel. Read more about this new feature here.

Reach Data on Timeline Posts:
When managing a page, it is always good to gain insights on how your updates are performing in order to improve your efforts. For page admins, Facebook has launched a simple way for page admins to view some simple post metrics on the Timeline. Below each post, you are able to view the number of people the post has reached divided into ’organic’ and ’viral’ reach. Read more about it here.

Promote Posts:
As you look through your post reach data, you will see that content posted on your page will only reach a certain percentage of the people who like your page. Facebook has now enabled a feature that allows you to pay to promote certain posts. The promoted posts will then reach more of your fans depending on how much you spend. They will be shown as a sponsored story in the fans News Feeds. When people engage with a Promoted Post, it will be shown in their friend’s News Feed too. Read more about it here.

Mobile Reach Data:
As we have advised on our Facebook page, the SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile) revolution of how we interact on social media platforms refers to the need of an intensified focus on the use of mobile devices in daily life of social media. Recently, Facebook upgraded their mobile app to better incorporate the new Timeline design with an increased focus on visual content. Some days ago, Facebook reinforced their analytics module, Insights, to encompass reach data on users interacting via a mobile device. Read more about it here.

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.