We are only half way through 2021 and there’s been a lot of changes over on Facebook that are directly affecting businesses. They have been busy!
Here are the most significant that you need to be aware of for your brand.
Facebook Business Page
Called the New Pages Experience, this was announced by Facebook in January. Changes you will have noticed (and maybe some you haven’t) include:
- A redesigned layout – Facebook claim it’s simpler and more intuitive but it seems overly clunky and annoying tbh.
- An extra dedicated News Feed (which is no doubt for more advert placements), but which Facebook say is:
“The dedicated News Feed will also suggest new connections — other public figures, Pages, Groups and trending content that a Page or public figure cares about. To make Page conversations more visible to a wider audience and surfaced more frequently in their followers’ News Feed, comments from public figures will be bumped to the top of the comments section. People will also be able to follow Pages directly from comments and recommendations posts.”
- Follow personal profiles as your business page.
- Easier navigation between personal profile and Pages.
- Updated admin controls for full control or partial access – definitely useful if you have a big team or outside agencies (like us) helping you manage your Facebook business page. However, many people have noted upsets in this function since it started rolling out, so clearly here were bugs in the programming. Hopefully now resolved.
- A new Q&A section is available on business pages, which could definitely help qualify leads. Facebook says:
“You can host a Q&A on your Page so that your followers can ask you questions about a topic you know about. As you answer questions, they become part of a stack of questions that your followers can swipe through”.
More information here on how to set it up.
- Facebook WiFi introduced – you can choose to offer free wifi to your visitors (or not).
- Page likes phased out – people will now just be able to follow you page or not, and you will see some changes to your page’s audience after the switch:
- If someone likes your old Page, but does not follow it, they will not transfer to your new Page as a follower.
- If someone likes and follows your old Page, they will continue to be a follower for the new Page and added to your total follower count.
- If someone follows your classic Page, but does not choose to like it, they will still transfer to your new Page as a follower.
- Page likes will not be supported on your new Page, and Page like count will no longer be accessible.
Facebook has now got rid of Audience Insights, which allowed you to drill down into other business page’s audiences, as well your own. Audience Insights showed job title, location, likes/interests, relationship status, education level, etc. However, data privacy changes, including the introduction of Apple’s iOS opt-in to data sharing function, meant that Facebook could no longer get away with being so free and easy with our data.
Obviously this is likely to affect your advertising going forward, but it may not be such a crushing blow as many businesses might imagine, partly because 3rd party digital and social advertising isn’t actually very affective and also because there’s a much better way to generate leads on social media than advertising, so long as you approach it the right way. Find out more in my recent article ‘Online Advertising – Your Brand Guide to What’s Changing and What to do About It‘.
For business page insights going forward you will need to use Business Suite, which will allow you to analyse your own audience, not other business’s data. Business Suite is more restrictive with what data you can access, but on the upside you can manage both your Instagram and Facebook accounts there and you will also be able to pre-schedule posts and stories (some of you will be able to already). See Facebook’s help section on Audience Insights transitioning to Business Suite Insights:
Live Audio Rooms
You will no doubt already read my recent article on Audio Social, especially Clubhouse, and as mentioned there Facebook have been developing their own audio rival. Mark Zuckerberg and team always have to rip off what is working elsewhere – their world domination tendencies are renowned – so now we have the beta test of the new Facebook Live Audio Rooms. Interestingly Clubhouse is not caching their audio, but Facebook are, so personally I think I’ll stick with Clubhouse for now! But if you fancy giving Live Audio Rooms a go, here’s what you will find on the app:
- Auto Captions are on by default, but are easy to disable
- You can minimise the audio player and continue to surf Facebook.
- Like Clubhouse, you can leave the Facebook app and the audio continues to play
- You can tap on any speaker or listener and choose to follow them. If they are your friends, the button changes from Follow to View Profile.
- The arrow at the bottom allows you to share or react.
Facebook is also monetising the conversations. They say:
“Listeners can also offer support and show appreciation to the public figure host of the Live Audio Room by sending Stars, which bumps those listeners up to the ‘front row.’ The front row is a special section that highlights people who sent Stars, so hosts can recognise supporters (and maybe even give them a shout out during the conversation!). Listeners can purchase Stars packs during the conversation and send them anytime”.
Find the Live Audio Room link and the Facebook event page are here on the mobile app (not desktop yet). At the moment you can only listen to Live Audio on Facebook from your personal profile, but the ability to join as your public page may be an option that’s coming.
Facebook have just launched Bulletin, a new, separate platform for writers, creators, experts, and journalists to publish newsletters and other content. According to Facebook, authors will also have the ability to “complement their writing” with podcasts and audio rooms. Bulletin is invite-only for select creators during the beta launch – and only two are not American, although Facebook say that more international creators will be invited to join as the service rolls out. Key features include:
- People will be able to subscribe to their favorite creators through Facebook or email.
- Each Bulletin creator will have a standalone website under their own brand, and will be able to customize their publication’s name, logo and colour palette.
- Creators can customise their articles with multi-media embeds & other styling options.
- There will be a mix of free and paid content. Some content will be freely available, while others will be behind a paywall, with paid subscribers getting access to extra features like dedicated Facebook Groups or special badges.
For those creators that choose to offer paid subscriptions, payments will be “easily and securely processed using Facebook Pay” (interesting it’s Facebook pay) and Facebook won’t take a cut of any newsletter subscriptions until 2023, apparently. Each Bulletin creator can choose their own prices for subscriptions.
Facebook stated, “Bulletin writers will keep all subscription revenue for the length of these partnerships, and have the ability to take their subscriber lists and content with them. We’re committed to ensuring creators own their content and their relationships, not us.” Again, note that Facebook’s rights to use whatever is created or shared on it’s platform will extend to Bulletin.
See official announcement here: https://fyi.bulletin.com/502867277619616.
Facebook has officially launched PODCASTS in the USA. Like Bulletin, Facebook has only made its podcast feature available to a select number of invite-only podcasters, but will be rolling it out at a faster pace. You’ll know when you have access as Podcasts will appear in your Facebook Page Settings. Key features include:
• People can listen to select podcast creators on their Facebook Pages, as well as in News Feed.
• Access to a diverse catalog of podcasts
• Ability to react to, comment, bookmark and share favourite podcasts.
Facebook say that they will “roll out additional features, like captions and the ability to create and share short clips of a podcast. Over time, we’ll build more unique social experiences around podcasts that make use of Facebook’s best interactive and personalized features”.
So it sounds like they will become an integral part of the social network’s experience. However, before you jump right in, do note that Facebook cashing in for their own gain is being again noted. This time by TechCrunch, who said:
“With the launch of the Facebook Podcast service, the company is asking podcast creators to give it permission to cache their content on Facebook’s servers, which we’re told is being done to ensure the content doesn’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards. However, because the podcasts are still being streamed via RSS feeds, they will be represented in the metrics provided by a podcaster’s hosting provider.”
Facebook’s new podcast service is different from the recent partnership with Spotify, which lets users share content from Spotify to Facebook. The new podcast feature streams the podcast directly on Facebook via the public RSS feed and is not delivered by Spotify.
Here are instructions on how to add your podcast to your Facebook Page.
Being verified gives you credence, and now you can get the blue tick as a business or an individual. The process is straightforward, just make sure you have at least 500 followers first. Note substantial changes to your profile will almost certainly mean it gets removed. More information here.