In addition to the 10 new Facebook features for 2016 that I recently discussed, some more established tools on the social network might benefit marketers and other communicators, as well.
Which of the following are you using?
Until I became a parent, I never realized how often people used Facebook Groups. The groups themselves (at least in my circles) are unspectacular, but the organization behind them is awesome.
Facebook Groups could host collaborative workgroups or committees with easy setup, with no fees and even with a mobile app. Group inclusion can be open, closed or private, making this a versatile and potential useful feature for businesses.
Facebook Events got an overhaul late in 2015. Much like the super useful and mysteriously discontinued Google Plus Events feature, Facebook Events enables you to invite a large group of users and share event information with them.
It also enables you to make Facebook a hub for the event in real time (via check-ins, posts and photos) and an archive of the event after the fact.
Facebook Places grew in importance for businesses in 2015: Reviews started to display more prominently, and the search feature significantly improved discoverability. This is no fluke: Facebook wants businesses to use its platform and to promote themselves within it.
Facebook is the largest online repository of images, but its capability to host video is impressive as well. Able to host videos up to 1080p (HD) resolution and up to 2.3 GB in size, Facebook has become an important video hub (although in a less discoverable way than YouTube).
Built up over time, this feature enables PR pros, businesses and marketers to tell their stories with quality consistent with the best online video applications (and to a larger audience).
5. Facebook Search
The Facebook Search algorithm was underwhelming at the outset. Things have changed. At the end of 2015 Facebook introduced a more robust search feature that enhances discoverability for businesses, people and content. The third-party tool Search is Back enables you to filter search with more precision than Facebook’s native search.
6. Subscribe Button
The subscribe button, around since 2011, enables people to separate their professional and personal posts. This lets users distribute professional posts and insights without having to share personal updates with people they don’t know and without setting up a separate page.
Subscriptions can also be used to keep tabs on competitors (if their employees are posting public content to Facebook) and to follow industry experts and innovators.
7. Third-party integration
Often we take plug-ins for granted, but Facebook’s third-party tools can be highly useful. Current plug-ins that Facebook offers include:
- “Like,” share and send button
- Embedded posts and video player
- Page plugin (new “like” box)
- Follow button
The only drawback to these is load time, but they can be set to asynchronous load as well. Third-party plug-ins can help you cross-promote content. Embedding posts and video may be a great option for featuring Facebook content on an external site.
8. Call to Action buttons
- Book Now
- Contact Us
- Use App
- Play Game
- Shop Now
- Sign Up
- Watch Video
The language is powerful and clear. Brand managers should revisit these options.
9. Facebook API/SDKs
If you have the budget for it (or some programming talent), you can do creative things with the Facebook API and software development kits (SDKs). Anything from building a native application to creating a login to your website, the API affords you opportunities to glean information from Facebook and use it in new and productive ways.
Facebook has advertising and promotional offerings to bridge the organic reach gap. Its filtering is exceptional, enabling you to target fans and prospects by geography, demographics or areas of interest.
Facebook’s valuation is high because of the effectiveness of its ads, so don’t dismiss ads and promoted posts simply because of the cost.