February 01, 2016
/ by Jim Dougherty
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing 10 new Facebook features for 2016 which naturally sparked a lot of interest: after all, who isn’t excited about shiny new features on Facebook? But its popularity made me wonder if there are existing Facebook features that may be underutilized by businesses, communication professionals and marketers. After all, Facebook has been around for a (relatively) long time, so there must be some features that are currently under-appreciated but may be very helpful.
The purpose of this post is to reintroduce you to some Facebook features that have been around for a while and may be very helpful.
Facebook Groups have been around for quite some time, but until I became a parent I never realized how often people used them. In my social circles, I’m always getting invitations to join one group or another. The groups themselves (at least in my circles) are unspectacular, but the organization behind them is an awesome feature of Facebook.
As excited as some people are for an enterprise version of Facebook, Facebook Groups could host collaborative workgroups or committees with easy setup, no fees and even with a mobile app. Group discoverability and inclusion can be open, closed or private, making this a very versatile feature as well.
With some creativity, it’s not hard to imagine this feature being far more useful for many businesses than it is right now.
Facebook Events is a feature that has been around for a long time and that got a major overhaul at the end of 2015. Much like the super useful and mysteriously discontinued Google Plus Events feature, Facebook Events gives you the opportunity to easily invite and share event information with a large group of social users.
It also allows you to make Facebook a hub for the event in real time (via check-ins, posts and photos) and an archive of the event after the fact. Facebook Events is an example of a feature that is probably more powerful than people know.
Facebook Places is a feature that people are probably aware of, but maybe not of the power that it wields. In 2015, reviews started to display more prominently for businesses on Facebook and in late 2015 the search feature significantly improved discoverability. In other words, Places got a lot more important for businesses in 2015 than it was previously. And this isn’t a mistake: Facebook wants businesses to need want to use their platform and to promote within it.
The Places feature is an example of a tool whose initial utility has grown over time.
We already know that Facebook is the largest cloud repository of images on the Internet, but its capability to host video is impressive as well. Able to host videos up to 1080p (HD) resolution and up to 2.3 GB in size, Facebook has become a very important video hub as well (although in a less discoverable way than YouTube).
Again this is a feature that has been built out over time. Facebook allows PR pros, businesses and marketers to tell their story with video with quality consistent with the best video applications on the web (and to a larger audience).
If you’re like me, you found the Facebook Search algorithm underwhelming at its outset. Things have changed a lot since then. In addition to the aforementioned discoverability improvements for businesses and their reviews, Facebook introduced a more robust search feature at the end of 2015 that enhances business discoverability but also greater discoverability for people and content. Third-party tools Search is Back also allows you to filter search to a more granular detail than Facebook’s native search.
This is a feature to keep your eye on as it has the increasing capability to influence so many people, possibly by location.
The subscribe button has been around for a long time (since the dark ages of 2011), but it’s a really cool feature that allows people to separate their professional posts from their personal posts. This allows users to distribute thought leadership content through their Facebook account without having to share their personal posts with people that they don’t know.
Facebook being the eminent social network, having the opportunity to distribute individual content without having to set up a parallel Page is a great feature. And subscriptions can also be used to keep tabs on competitors (if their employees are posting public content to Facebook) and to follow thought leaders in the industry.
Oftentimes we take for granted the third-party social plugins that we see on any website, and Facebook in particular has taken care to build these out. Current plugins that Facebook offers include:
The only drawback to these is load time, but they can be set to asynchronous load as well. Depending upon how you want to cross-promote content, there are some opportunities with Facebook’s third-party plugins that bring Facebook content to your organic pages in a meaningful way. Embedding posts and video may be a cool option to feature specific Facebook content on an external site.
About a year old, Facebook’s Call to Action buttons are powerful add-ons to a business Page to help to drive action from Facebook (and BONUS they’re free to use). The available CTA buttons are:
You can see that the language that they use is very powerful and clear. If businesses aren’t using this feature on their Page, it may be worth revisiting (I mentioned that it is free, right?).
For those businesses with some budget to spend (or some programming talent), you can do some creative things with the Facebook API and software development kits (SDKs). Anything from building a native application to creating a social login to your website, the API offers you opportunities to glean information from and use Facebook in a way that you cannot organically.
Oftentimes when we think of Facebook for business, we think of Pages or ads but there are some pretty creative ways to leverage Facebook in other ways as well.
A lot has been said about the organic reach of Facebook Pages, but the converse argument of lost reach is that Facebook has a lot of advertising / promotional offerings to bridge the gap. Facebook’s granular filtering is exceptional – offering the ability to target existing fans and prospects by geography, demographic data and / or interest data.
While it would be great to get huge benefits from Facebook for free, ads shouldn’t be ignored because they’re not. Facebook’s valuation is high because of the effectiveness of these ads, so if you haven’t considered ads and promoted posts seriously you should.
Because we love new and shiny things, the thought of a bunch of new Facebook features kind of fires us up. But odds are few of these will be successful. What I hope I demonstrated in this post is that there are a few legacy features of Facebook that can be very powerful for business, communication pros and marketers, without going through the growing pains of the “beta” experience.
I’d love for you to leave some feedback on this post if there are other Facebook features that go underutilized but are helpful in your work.
Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
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