5 NEW Facebook Features Your Business Needs to Know About (October 2015)

It's been a busy summer for Facebook's development team, with plenty of interesting new tools and updates ready to use right now - or right on the horizon. In this blog post, I show you five of the updates that businesses can be taking advantage of. Let's go!

1. The evolution of "Like" - Reactions

Throughout September 2015, it was heavily reported that Facebook would be introducing a "Dislike" button to the site, as a way for people to express empathy - such as when clicking "like" on a sad post feels insensitive. 

However, on October 8th, Facebook's Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox revealed the actual new development via a post on his Facebook Page: Reactions. The update allows users to choose one of several expressions - Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry - when responding to a post. Check it out below:

Posted by Chris Cox on Thursday, October 8, 2015

At the time of writing, Reactions are being tested amongst Facebook users in Spain and Ireland, but Cox said that they'll be using the feedback to improve the new function, and hope to roll it out to everybody soon. Businesses will be able to see Reaction counts within Facebook Insights, giving you a new way measure how fans perceive you..

2. Video updates: Suggested videos, dedicated portal, "Save" to watch later, and more

The popularity of video on Facebook continues to grow, and Facebook plans to introduce several new features to cater to the need of viewers and publishers. These include a "suggested videos" feature, similar to that seen on YouTube. When a viewer finishes watching one video, several related videos will appear for them to continue watching - hopefully another of yours! Suggested videos is available to most people using iPhone right now; testing for Android will begin in a few months.

You might be familiar with the "Save" option attached to posts in the Facebook News Feed - the ability to file away a post to view it later on. The same feature will soon be available for Facebook videos. If the videos you produce and upload to Facebook are regularly long-form, if it's something they'll want to watch over again, (or if you just know your audience is really busy), you could ask them to hit Save so they have easy access to your content whenever they like.

In a move that aligns Facebook's video strategy as close to YouTube as it has ever been, it'll soon be launching a dedicated page for people to go to search for, and watch, video exclusively - whether that’s videos they’ve saved for later, or videos from friends, Pages they follow, and other video publishers on Facebook. Facebook says:

"... the new videos section helps people discover, watch and share videos on Facebook that are relevant to them. It can be accessed by tapping a “Videos” icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the “Favorites” section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the web. "

3.  Check marks for verified Business Pages

A verified checkmark is one of the most sought-after nuggets of social media goodness, and now Facebook is making it easier for businesses to get a piece of the action. Rather than the traditional blue check marks given to public figures, local bricks-and-mortar businesses' with a verified Page will get a grey one. Here's how:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. From General, click Page Verification
  3. Click Verify this Page, then click Get Started
  4. Enter a publicly listed phone number for your business, your country and language
  5. Click Call Me Now to allow Facebook to call you with a verification code
  6. Enter the 4-digit verification code and click Continue

Note: Local page owners can also verify with a business document, as long as it features the company's name and physical address.

Getting a verified checkmark will improve trust between you and your customers and fans. Speaking to Marketing Land, Facebook Product Marketing Manager, Kristen Bury, said:

"At scale there will inevitably be duplicates and multiple entries for the same business. So this is one way businesses can make it easier for people to make sure that they are finding and communicating with the right Page. …

This isn’t the biggest product that we will launch in the next year, but it’s definitely a sign of our investment in making it easy for people and businesses to connect on Facebook and on Pages."

4. Lead ads available to all

A few months ago, Facebook announced that it was testing a new form of ads - lead ads - which allow Facebook users to sign up to receive news, an offer, or other information about your business, by email with just a few taps. When a mobile user clicks "Subscribe", for example, their name and email address will be populated automatically, and they only have to confirm to start receiving updates. Lead ads are now available to all businesses:

Facebook makes filling in the form as fast as two taps: one click on the ad to open the form and another to submit the autofilled form. Like all of our ad types, lead ads were built with privacy in mind. People can edit their contact information before submitting the form, and this information isn’t sent to the business until a person clicks “submit.”

At the time of writing, lead ads can only be created via the Power Editor platform on Facebook. For those of you who prefer the main Facebook ads platform, hopefully it will roll out soon.

5. Updates to mobile profiles

As of September 2015, Facebook began to test an evolution in profiles for mobile devices, including GIF-like animated video profile photos, and the ability to set a temporary version of your profile picture that reverts back to your previous profile picture at a specified time. Where businesses are concerned, you could incorporate both of these features into a marketing campaign - encouraging fans to change their profile photo as a way to support an initiative or enter a competition (e.g. most creative, theme-based profile photo video).

Over to you

What do you think of these new developments for Facebook? Are you excited to use them in your own marketing efforts? Let me know in the comments below!