Facebook logo and update symbol

Facebook is innovation central, so it’s not a surprise that we receive news of new updates nearly every single quarter of the year.

The Facebook we know today is a far cry from the Facebook we knew in the early 2000s. A large chunk of Facebook users may have never even experienced Facebook in its budding stages. But that doesn’t matter because from what we know about the platform, is that they are not likely to settle on one forever identity. They’re adaptative and notorious for tweaks and changes.

2020 through to 2021 has been a busy period for the guys at Facebook as they’ve tried to accommodate the outside world flocking towards digital spaces to shop, sell, learn and connect.

Today we’re going to be exploring the new features and functions you can find on Facebook to grow your business in ways you never would have expected.

Bear in mind, we’re going to be jumping between two major platforms: Facebook and Instagram. If you came here solely to learn about Facebook, here’s lesson number one:

Since Zuckerberg decided to buy Instagram under Facebook in 2012, the two have been interlinked and the sooner you understand how one benefits the other, the better.

New Features and Functions

Facebook Business Suite

Facebook business suite screenshot

Jumping off how Facebook and Instagram are increasingly connected, how much do you know about the Facebook Business Suite?

Business Suite was introduced for businesses to manage all of their social media platforms from one space – as long as they’re a part of Facebook.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, clarifies that the Business Suite was created “to post to Facebook and Instagram at the same time, and manage and receive messages, notifications and alerts in one place. They can also easily see what’s working and learn what’s resonating with customers with Facebook and Instagram insights.”

An organised business is a business geared towards growth and using the Business Suite properly will help you get there. With this feature, you have the ability to:

  • Manage, create and edit your albums
  • Save posts in draft mode for when you aren’t quite finished with them
  • Edit scheduled posts
  • Create and schedule content to be posted to both Instagram and Facebook.

Post scheduling is one of the most appealing functions, especially when you can time when your content will go live across more than one platform.

Messaging API

If you’re a business that is selling at a high volume, this feature should get you excited.

It can be difficult to maintain a constant influx of queries, sales and responses. Especially if you have an active presence across different platforms. Facebook’s new API messaging means you can respond to messages that come through on Instagram from a third-party platform.

This way, if somebody messages your Instagram account asking about sizes or inventory, you can swiftly respond to them via Facebook Messenger even if you aren’t logged onto Instagram.

AI Research Published

Facebook AI Logo

Facebook has been investing in AI technology for a while now. From virtual reality to AI-based product searching, the future looks bright for AI and Facebook.

Facebook currently uses AI for its shoppers, allowing them to scan a product they like and search for it on the platform. The technology will be able to sift through thousands of similar products and arrive at the closest one.

A cool feature we came across is the function where AI on Facebook can replicate stylised text in ad campaigns, pictures and media using a single example word. This is considered “the first self-supervised AI model that replaces text in existing images of both scenes and handwriting — in one shot — using just a single example word.”

Taking Control of Deepfakes

AI is a powerful tool and should be used for more than replicating cool fonts and text designs. It should also be used to limit deception and fake messaging on the Facebook platform (of which, we’re sure you know, there is plenty)

Deepfaking a deceptive technique where a person who already exists is in a photo or video is replaced by synthetic media that has been used to imitate a likeness to that person. As you can imagine, this poses a massive threat to the validity and truthfulness of content on the Facebook platform.

You can worry less about deepfaking now that Facebook has measures in place to detect content that has been manipulated. This content will either be removed or users will be warned that the content could be a deepfake.

Reel Ads

Facebook and Instagram can now host Reel ads, which are adverts that can be placed amongst full-length Reels. If you want people to find your page, Reels is the way to go.

“We see Reels as a great way for people to discover new content on Instagram, and so ads are a natural fit. Brands of all sizes can take advantage of this new creative format in an environment where people are already being entertained.” - Justin Osofsky, Instagram Chief Operating Officer

Updates to Facebook Pages

Facebook business pages have also seen some new updates to help business owners keep up with the times.

COVID Business Resources

Facebook is often under scrutiny for being a platform where fake news festers. That being said, they created a COVID Business Resources section for businesses on Facebook to stay abreast of developing stories. These resources are validated, fact-checked and stored where you can read them at any time.

FB and IG Shops

If we had to name one sector that has exploded over the past two years, it would be Social Commerce. You can now sell directly from your Facebook and Instagram page instead of using a third-party host. If brands get this right, the sky is the limit.

COVID Tag for Posts

Writing about COVID day in and day out is a serious drag. So, Facebook does it for you. You can automate any changes, health practices or temporary service changes.

Digital Gift Cards

Who wouldn’t want to be able to send and receive gifts right from the comfort of their own phone? Business owners can now offer digital gift cards to their customers via Facebook.

Facebook Marketing Trends

Facebook Reactions

Now that we know more about the changes that are here (and the ones that are in the works), what does that means for your business? Being ahead of the curve is essential, so check out these Facebook marketing trends to add to your marketing strategy.

Video Marketing is on the Rise

As are live streams. Anything that moves, people respond to.

Private Groups and Interest Communities

1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups. And that’s where your business needs to be.

Just because you’re a business, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in the conversation. Creating interest communities or private groups for your industry is a fantastic way to speak with your audience instead of speaking at your audience.

These spaces are also great for customer insight and understanding.

Ecommerce and Facebook Shops

We mentioned them earlier and we’ll mention them again: Facebook shops are where it’s at. Since people have been told to stay at home, shopping online has seen an incredible surge in customers.

Facebook News Feed Ads Format

The new algorithm on Facebook focuses on showing users content that they resonate with. This means less clutter and more connection. Keep this in mind when you’re creating ads and content – they need to filter through onto your audience's newsfeed in a way that is natural and far from click-baity.

Chatbots May Be on the Horizon

Messenger has become such a widely used function that Facebook is considering adding chatbots to their offering. Watch out for this one, because it could make all the difference for automating your business communications.

User-generated Content

77% of consumers admit authentic customer photos have a bigger impact on their purchasing decisions than polished images created by marketing departments.

Customers are not as easily influenced as we may think and whilst brands spend hundreds of thousands of Rands on cleverly posed and shot images, it’s user-generated content that makes a longer-lasting impression.

The Final Word 

Facebook has been an incredible portal for rallying support for small businesses. It is worth your while to stay on top of upcoming trends so you can incorporate the most effective strategies for your brand. If you’re interested in growing your business, keep an eye on our upcoming posts on how best to harness the latest business trends.

Sources:

Facebook Shops: Online shopfront on Facebook and Instagram | Facebook for Business

Facebook Algorithm Changes & What to Expect in 2021 | Ballantine

Facebook AI

We’re Launching New Engagement Features, Ways to Discover Groups and More Tools for Admins | Facebook Community

7 Brands' Best User Generated Content Examples on Facebook. | Falcon.io