Facebook’s Way Past Friends—It Wants to Be Your Whole World
Facebook doesn’t just want to be a social network. It wants to be your world.
At an event at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters today, Facebook said that 45 million small businesses worldwide are now using Pages as their digital storefronts. And Facebook wants to make it even easier for you to find businesses, and for businesses to serve you, all within its app.
“Our mission is to help connect everyone in the world. Businesses often depend on connecting,” says Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. “That’s where Facebook comes in. If you can set up a Facebook profile, you can set up a Page.”
To get more businesses and their customers using Pages, the company launched new updates to make Pages more expansive and mobile-friendly while also helping businesses better connect via messages. Pages can now feature industry-specific sections, meaning a salon could include a menu of the services offered, or a clothing store could include a list of clothes.
Pages will also now prominently feature the option for customers to call, message, or contact businesses directly. Businesses that respond promptly to customer messages will be rewarded with a public badge that says, for example, “very responsive to messages.” Companies can also now save replies that they use frequently and will also have the chance to choose how to reply to you. If you post angrily on a Page’s feed, the company can choose to respond to you in a private message.
Being able to find a service is also an important part of connecting with businesses. Facebook also says it’s working with the search team so that one day you may be able to search for, say, a plumber near you.
Where the People Are
The crux of these new updates comes down to the increasing power of your phone. As more and more users gravitate to mobile, businesses are hoping to reach users where they are. But according to a recent Forrester study, 85 percent of time spent on smartphones happens within apps, not web pages. That’s a problem not just for small businesses but larger businesses, too, says Benji Shomair, Facebook’s product marketing director for Pages. Apps are difficult and expensive to build—plus most users wouldn’t want, say, a company-specific app anyway.
That’s where Facebook comes in. Facebook wants its Pages to act as everyone’s digital mall, a place where any small business can create a Page to reach you, share its services, or eventually offer you the chance to shop. “It’s critical for businesses to be found on mobile,” Shomair says. “On mobile in particular, this is a challenge. Why not be where people are already spending their time?”
That place, of course, is Facebook. As we wrote earlier this year, Facebook wants to create an ecosystem of possible activities that effectively mimics real life, all within its app or bundle of apps. If you want to chat with friends, read the news, or find sneakers in your size, Facebook wants you to do it in Facebook. Facebook wants Facebook to be your world.