Facebook has introduced a new way for Pages to connect with Instagram and another to widen or create new small business communities. The announcements came at a Facebook Communities Summit that took place on February 7 at the company’s Menlo Park HQ that hosted 400+ community and small business leaders.
Small Business Trends contacted Alex Himel, Facebook’s Vice President of Business Platform, to learn more about the event, the new products and what both mean to small businesses.
“At the Facebook Communities Summit, we’re celebrating, connecting, and supporting leaders including local business owners who are using Facebook to build community and bring the world closer together,” he wrote in an email. “ This is the first time we’re hosting small businesses and we’re excited to welcome them.
There are millions of communities on Facebook for thousands of interests and causes, but they all have one thing in common: a leader who brings people together around a shared interest.”
Himel said the unique opportunity brought people together who share similar experiences, opportunities and challenges. It was also an opportunity for the social media giant to learn from the participants.
The changes announced at the event are of special interest to small businesses that use Facebook Pages to promote and market. Hootsuite reports that 80 million small businesses use the social media platform to promote their businesses.
The case for using Facebook in lieu of or as a companion to a website gets even stronger when you consider the stat that says almost 80% of American consumers have found retail products on Facebook.
The Pages Manager App will be available to small businesses in a few weeks. It will allow businesses to respond and receive messages from their customers across the two platforms in one single location, either on a desktop or mobile device. Being able to work from a single application should be a great way to streamline and improve customer service.
“We’re simplifying messaging for businesses by introducing Instagram Direct messaging to the Pages Inbox for the first time. This means that businesses will be able to manage their messages from different messaging channels in a single location so they never have to miss a message from a customer.”
The numbers point to a big benefit here that works both ways across the platforms. Monthly business conversations on Instagram number 150 million according to internal data from the company. Businesses communicate with 10 billion messages to people in the same time frame on Messenger. [Facebook Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2018 Results Conference Call, January 30, 2019]
By developing new ways for businesses to connect using Pages, Facebook is helping small businesses meet their community building goals. That’s why a few tweaks are coming to Pages that will allow small businesses to join in Facebook groups and community discussions that are relevant to their enterprises.
“We’re now enabling Pages to join groups and discussions relevant to their communities or create a group to build their own communities,” Himel writes. “For example, a travel group can now include travel agents or a dog lovers group can include dog rescuers.”