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Facebook Adds More Tools for Small Businesses

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The Facebook F8 annual conference has taken place in San Jose. The main headline grabbing announcement was about augmented reality. But rather than spend our time looking at the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, we'd rather look at the more important news for business owners. And as Facebook adds more tools for small businesses, there's plenty to look forward to.

Free Facebook Workplace:

There are various tools which allow you to tackle email overload. The most famous productivity tool at the moment is Slack, which is part real-time messaging and chat room, combined with archiving and search for documents. Facebook has launched an alternative, named Workplace, which will also allow you to collaborate without sending endless chains of emails. At the moment the full version is free, but it will switch to being paid-for later this year. Fortunately before then, a free Facebook Workplace version will let you have some of the productivity tools without the cost.

It's going to be useful for smaller businesses who want to start communicating better internally. And for those who work remotely or with freelancers or external companies. If you've ever looked at the cost of building a company intranet, a free alternative like Slack or Facebook Workplace is going to be particularly appealing.

Track Facebook Users Into Your Shop:

There are an increasing number of ways for customers and businesses to interact via Facebook. You might not have invested in your own chatbot yet (although Facebook is making them easier to develop and discover in Messenger). But potential shoppers may well have contacted you via Facebook Messenger, your Facebook Page, or by logging into your website or mobile app using their Facebook login.

In the past, Facebook generated a separate user id if someone used Messenger and then logged into your website or app via a Facebook login. So there was no way to know they were the same person.

Now it's finally possible for businesses to match the IDs created by Facebook when a single customer interacts via Messenger, multiple pages or apps, and your own website. As long as they're using a Facebook login, you can now see how each channel creates sales. And use those customers to then create a Custom Audience to target with advertising and special offers. If you're a developer interested in implementing ID matching, Facebook has a guide already available.

And Facebook Adds More Tools for Small Businesses:

Facebook originally introduced an analytics service two years ago. But it was fairly limited in comparison to rivals such as Google Analytics. Now renamed as Facebook Analytics, it will enable you to track what customers do online, and in-person. The support for 'offline conversions' or 'in-store sales' is still in open beta testing at the moment. Iit means you'll know if chatting with a customer online via Facebook resulted in them coming to your shop and buying something the following weekend. So you will know if it was time well spent. Again, you can also then find potential customers with similar habits and preferences by using Facebook Custom Audiences.

The various reports are also becoming more streamlined, with automatic recommendations and custom dashboard available. Which makes it a far more useful analytics tool for the typical small or medium-sized business.

And if you need some guidance, then check out our post on 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Better Use Facebook.