A few months ago, Facebook rolled out a new format for its platform.  As a marketer, I of course gave it a try.  I wanted to see right away how these changes at Facebook might affect my small business as well as my client who own small businesses.

I turned on the beta version for a few days and thought, “I don’t like that…. Going to switch back to the original.”  I went back to the familiar Facebook blue bar and I was relieved to be once again in friendly territory.

Well, for most of us, last week that all changed.  Facebook rolled out their new format and now everyone needs to get used to the new layout.

Although I’m not really excited about learning a new way to navigate something I use as often as Facebook, it turns out that there are a few new features that could be really helpful to small business owners that I thought I’d briefly highlight today.

Always Think, MOBILE FIRST!

First of all, everything is going to mobile devices these days.  You’ll find that more than half of your website traffic will be coming from mobile users.  When it come to social media, many small businesses are finding that as high as 97% of their social media users are on a mobile device.

  • Make sure your Facebook page looks great on a mobile device.
  • Think about shooting photos in a vertical or portrait layout or in a square most of the time.

Changes at Facebook Created Facebook Shops

Facebook will be rolling out a wide range of offerings for shops.  The expansion of their current features and the implementation of some new shopping features will greatly increase your small businesses’ eCommerce sales potential.

Our understanding is that they are rolling out options where you can buy and sell products directly on Facebook and take payments on Facebook just like you would on Amazon or on an eCommerce website.  We are getting ready to experiment with the first couple of businesses with these new features and we’ll report back later to see if we encounter any issues.

For example, we discovered right off the bat that Facebook will be collecting tax and they will be holding payments for up to 10 days.  This could pose a bit of a problem for some businesses because they will need to ship the product before payment is deposited into their account.  Our research suggests that this delay is causing some businesses to already shift right back over to more traditional eCommerce solutions.

We are also seeing that Facebook is rolling out the ability to not only host classes, webinars, and conference events on their platform, but to also charge admission process for those events.

Expanding your Reach on the New Facebook

Facebook is increasingly becoming a “pay to play” environment.  If you want a post to reach more than 30-50 people, you’ll typically need to pay for advertising services.  There are 2 ways to beat the system that we are aware of right now.

  1. Remind your fans to like your page and to share your post. At the same time, you need to use your business Facebook page to like other people’s pages as well.
  2. Increase your participation in Facebook groups

A New Emphasis on Groups is One of the Most Important Changes at Facebook

Let me briefly mention 3 changes when it comes to groups:

  1. It looks like they are in a testing phase where they will allow advertisers to pay for ads in a highly engaged group with more than 1000 members. This could end up being a way to monetize a group that you currently manage.  We’ll wait to see what actually happens
  2. Paid subscriptions will be available for some groups with highly valuable content.
  3. Group watch video features are currently being rolled out

Groups are key to the new way Facebook plans to operate, so in another post, I’ll talk a little bit more about what we know so far when it comes to small businesses and Facebook groups.