Facebook said on Thursday that it’s testing and introducing a batch of new products and tools that aim to help businesses personalize the experiences they offer on Facebook without resorting to targeted advertising.
The products also make it easier for businesses to manage their day-to-day interactions with customers across Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and the big blue app more holistically.
For example, businesses can now add WhatsApp click-to-chat buttons to their Instagram profiles. Facebook is also going to start testing paid and organic tools to generate and qualify leads directly within the Instagram app.
Businesses can choose which app they want as their default for click-to-message ads, whether that be in Messenger, Instagram Direct or WhatsApp. Facebook is also testing marketing automation tools for businesses to manage email, including remarketing emails, directly from the Facebook Business Suite.
Graham Mudd, Facebook’s VP of product marketing for ads, recently said that Facebook is undergoing “a very meaningful pivot” as it invests in ad products that are personalized without targeting distinct individuals.
Facebook has taken to characterizing these moves more broadly as “the next era of personalization.” In that next era, Facebook will be “led by people’s changing behavior” in shopping and communicating, and by their evolving privacy expectations, said Karandeep Anand, VP of business products at Facebook.
“We’re adapting our business to usher in this next era,” he said. “It isn’t a new place, like the shift from desktop to mobile in advertising, but a new way for people and businesses to find meaningful connections.”
Rather than personalized ads, that could mean a business connecting with a customer on WhatsApp or weaving social engagement into the shopping experience.
All of these marketing interactions are top of mind as those “targeting headwinds,” as Facebook’s CFO Dave Wehner refers to on company earnings calls, finally begin to blow. (Not that it’s affecting Facebook’s revenue or stock price.)
Business messaging in particular is a top priority. Facebook sees its platform as “the primary way” people and businesses will communicate with each other, including shopping.
“People prefer messaging because it’s familiar, it’s convenient, it’s personalized and it builds trust, [and] messaging is better for businesses, too,” he said.
In addition to its messaging-related product releases, Facebook will start testing the rollout of cost-savings bundles for businesses to encourage more activity on Facebook, including Facebook ad coupons and three months of free access to QuickBooks accounting software and graphic design tool Canva Pro. Think of Facebook as your marketing one-stop shop if you’re a small business.
On top of that, Facebook has plans to expand its business discovery feature so that people can more easily find new products and service providers.