Facebook Announces New Tools for SMBs, Including Video Calls and Expanded Appointment Bookings

With Christmas fast approaching, and people increasingly keen to make it a big celebration in order to make up for the disruptions of the past two years, retailers now have a golden opportunity to boost their sales, and connect with potential new customers that are eager to spend.

The pandemic has had a broad range of impacts, but for those that have been able to keep working throughout, their expenses, in many cases, have been far lower, and without holidays and other discretionary spending, that’s left a lot of people with extra in their accounts. And as borders re-open, and social restrictions are reduced, that’s now set the stage for a big-spending holiday period.

Have you got your holiday marketing plan in place?

To help with this, Facebook has today announced some new tools for SMBs, including video and audio calls direct from the Facebook inbox, and new appointment booking functionality to better facilitate connection.

First off, on its new calling options – while the functionality is not anything new, Facebook is now testing a new option that will enable businesses to make audio and video calls via Business Inbox in Messenger.

Facebook SMB calling example

As you can see here, selected SMBs will now be able to make audio and video calls direct from chat streams with customers, providing additional options for immediate connection.

That’ll help streamline business connection – and while not everyone will be keen on opening up a video chat with a brand, it could help to facilitate valuable context in business queries, which may well be a key value add.

In addition to this, Facebook’s also expanding its live audio rooms to selected SMBs.

Facebook SMB audio room example

As explained by Facebook:

“With Live Audio Rooms on Facebook, small businesses can host live conversations on topics relevant to their customers, and people can discover them across Facebook. Small businesses can invite friends, followers, creators or any listeners in the room to be a speaker.”

That could provide a valuable branding, and brand awareness opportunity, while Facebook’s overall approach to audio social could also help to maximize exposure to relevant audiences, by highlighting your audio streams within the feeds of your Page followers specifically.

Other audio social tools that have opened up to all users are now facing moderation issues, and challenges in highlighting the most relevant rooms to potentially interested people in real-time, purely because there are so many broadcasts happening all at once. By taking a slower approach to its roll-out, and limiting its audio rooms to celebrities, groups, and now selected businesses, that could help Facebook maximize attention among likely interested users, without the clutter of too many broadcasts.

Facebook’s also making its appointment tools available to all small businesses.

Facebook appointment booking

As you can see here, Facebook’s appointment booking tools, which it’s been developing for several months, enable businesses to set-up quick and easy appointment scheduling, direct on your company’s Facebook Page. The process syncs with Google Calendar, as well as a range of popular booking tools, helping to integrate your data in real-time.

That could help to lock in more business opportunities, via the platform that users are discovering your business on, while it also eliminates the need for people to call up and get in touch, streamlining the process.

Facebook’s also looking to prompt more support for small businesses in the app, with new prompts when you engage with an SMB ad.

Facebook SMB ad prompt

As you can see in this example, when users ‘like’ or ‘love’ an ad from a small business, a new message will be shown which explains how engaging with ads from SMBs can help that business grow its presence.

Which is part of Facebook’s broader push to highlight why personalized ads are of benefit to brands, as it seeks to stop everybody switching off Facebook tracking via Apple’s new ATT prompts.

“72% of US small businesses who use personalized ads say it’s important to their success, so we’ll continue to test more ways to highlight how personalized ads are an important way people discover small businesses on Facebook and Instagram and help small businesses grow from an idea into a livelihood.”

Many users, of course, have already stopped Facebook’s data tracking, but people can update their preferences if they choose, and re-enable data tracking. Whether these prompts help in that push is another question.

Facebook’s also adding a new business tool to WhatsApp, with catalog collections, which will enable SMBs to organize their products by category, making it easier for potential customers find what they’re looking for.

WhatsApp catalog collections

And finally, Facebook’s also rolling out new ad creation options in Business Suite, including the capacity to create Instagram-only ads on desktop, and new insights to help measure ad performance.

Facebook’s also looking to simplify the ad creation process in Ads Manager, by highlighting the alignment between campaign objectives and marketing goals, while it’s also consolidating its campaign goal listings, simplifying the process.

There are some handy updates here – nothing groundbreaking, as such, but each has its own distinct purpose and role, that could play an important part in your Facebook advertising process.

And with eCommerce transactions on the rise, having more capacity to connect, and showcase your business to your audience, can only help in solidifying audience connection, and maximizing your sales results.

You can read more about Facebook’s SMB updates here.

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