12 Aug Facebook new features – new look of Business pages, new Like button, Snapchat rip off and the future of search
In the last couple of months Facebook has launched quite a few new or updated features, which clearly indicate that the social network is moving steadily forward towards commercial success and intends to keep its leadership in the years to come.
Facebook Business pages
The latest and maybe most visible of the evolutionary changes is the new look of business pages, which surprised many users and business owners alike. The new layout impacts all desktop users and has been rolled out to all but a small percentage of users on desktop devices.
This is how our business page looks like with the new design. Checkout the numbers for the description of the new features.
There are several features from the update which are worth mentioning:
- More prominent call to action button under the cover photo, which enables brands to achieve real results from their Facebook presence. You can choose from call to action types such as:
- Shop Now
- Book Now
- Call Now
- Contact Us
- Send Message
- Use App
- Play Game
- Sign Up
- Watch Video
- Send Email
- Learn More
- Request Appointment
Advertisers may create adverts with the same call to action button integrated and they may view insights about the users’ interactions in order to choose the best performer from the options listed above.
- The tab navigation – in the past it was quite difficult to get to all tabs, which may or may not had contained meaningful information. Now the navigation looks more like the navigation of a website and is located on the side of the page. This allows users to more easily find sections of interest, such as the About page, photos, videos, events or custom pages.
- The profile and cover photo – now they are in different placements and businesses no longer have to tweаk both photos in order to gain meaningful combinations. The new placement gives much more freedom of choice of both profile photo and cover photos. But beware – you need to revise your cover photo if you have seriously played with it in the past in order to fit the overlaying profile photo (the same certainly goes for heavily tweaked profile photos which could render out of place in the new environment)
- Search for posts on this page. Now there is a search bar to the right of the posts, which allows users to search the content of the page for specific posts, such as “special offer” or a “coupon” or a “discount”.
- There is no more competitors’ display ads on your business page. Facebook has completely removed the display ads from showing on business pages. This means that your Business Page is the only business doing any selling on the page.
Like button – no more thumbs up
No, this is not about Facebook Reactions which were introduced earlier this year. It is about the redesign of the Like and Share buttons on third party websites and this is their first redesign in 2 years. The Liking on Facebook’s own site goes unaffected, but all of the Like buttons around the web will soon be refreshed with a bolder, bluer design six months in the making. Just to remind you that these buttons are viewed over 22 billion times daily across millions of websites.
The new button’s designer is Hugo van Heuven. The aim of the rebranding is more consistency over the 7.5 million sites that use the buttons. “The old buttons ranged in size, from 18 to 22 pixels tall, and so careless developers would often not leave proper padding, clipping the embedded graphic. Now, 20×48 pixels will be Facebook’s standard that web designers can count on without triple checking their spacing”, says Co.Design in their article on the topic.
In the new button the thumb will be replaced by the Facebook logo and it is apparent that the way the Facebook logo appears on the blue button is nearly identical to the way it appears on the top of Facebook’s page, bringing a level of brand consistency.
Instagram Stories – killing Snapchat
Some time ago Facebook succeeded to slow down the growth of its major competitor Twitter by launching the Subscribe feature – a way to follow public figures. Before that moment Twitter was the home of real-time updates from public figures. Subscribe wasn’t better than Twitter – updates didn’t appear in real time. Not all the best content creators turned on the feature so they could be followed. At the time, there were no hashtags and no trending topics. But for some, Facebook Subscribe was good enough that they didn’t have to join Twitter.
Subscribe lived in the News Feed they already visited. You weren’t required to sign up for another account and learn a new vocabulary or interface. And you didn’t have to build a new audience or feed from scratch. It didn’t kill Twitter, but it seems to have made it less necessary for people who already used Facebook. Five years later, Twitter has only grown to 313 million users, while Facebook is now at 1.71 billion.
So, now the same strategy seems to work for Instagram Stories vs Snapchat. Instagram Stories lacks the quality of Snapchat Stories. There are no geofilters, animated selfie lenses, 3D stickers, speed effects or screenshot alerts. The camera isn’t the default home screen for spontaneous recording. And uploads don’t go as smoothly. But Instagram Stories may be good enough to slow Snapchat’s growth, especially amongst existing Instagram users. Instagram Stories appear at the top of the feed, so there’s no way to miss them. The core drawing and text overlay tools are there. And most importantly, you don’t have to build a new audience on a different app.
If it doesn’t work out, Instagram could still scrap the Stories feature. The only cost will be some development time and the insults that it copied Snapchat. With or without Stories, Instagram still dominates polished social media the way Facebook would have still dominated big life event and opinion sharing even without Subscribe.
If Instagram Stories is a success, it may be able to defang its most dangerous adversary. Facebook’s previous attempts to clone Snapchat like Poke, Slingshot and Bolt all failed, largely because they tried to make an “even-better” version of Snapchat. Obviously Facebook got smarter this time and created a good-enough version.
Facebook aiming for Search
And last but not least the ambitions of Facebook in search. Facebook is moving into the search space aggressively, definitely to help it compete with Twitter and perhaps even Google in the future. Facebook launched true keyword search in late 2014 that allows users to search not just profile names or just your friends posts, but also everyone’s public posts.
The first goal for Facebook with search is to become more like Twitter, where people post their thoughts, feelings and most importantly news reports, especially the on-the-scene kind. When the next plane lands in the Hudson, Facebook wants the survivor standing on the wing to use their platform to post about this breaking news, not Twitter. More precisely, Facebook wants you to use Facebook Live to stream your personalized live news coverage.
Possibly as a second goal Facebook will try to compete with LinkedIn for the business related news, conversations and connections search.
Next up for Facebook Search would be to compete with Google. Why… you ask? Because Google has a market cap of $520 billion, with the majority of that credited to its search business, while Facebook has a market cap of $362 billion. More importantly, it’s about revenue and profit. In 2015, Google had $75 billion in revenue and $16 billion in net income while Facebook had $17 billion in revenue and $3.6 billion in net income.
Google tried to compete with Facebook with Google+ and it failed miserably, but that’s because it’s harder to get people to change their social habits than it is their search habits. You don’t need your friends to use Facebook Search in order for you to find it useful, but you definitely need your friends to move to a new social platform to make it work for you. That was Google’s dilemma, but it won’t be Facebook’s.
“Since it refocused on keywords, Facebook is now seeing 2 billion searches per day of its 2.5 trillion posts,” stated TechCrunch writer Josh Constine. “That’s compared to 1.5 billion searches per day in July 2015, and 1 billion in September 2012. That’s a 33% climb in just 9 months.”
Possibly in the future Facebook will add web indexing to it’s search engine and also disconnect its search app from Facebook.com just like they did with Messanger.
So, Facebook is moving fast forwards and it will be quite interesting to follow up all the news in the coming months.