Facebook is launching “Facebook Business Suite,” a new mobile app and desktop interface that brings together Facebook and Instagram publishing, messaging and analytics in a single dashboard intended to simplify management of content across both platforms. It is being rolled out today globally.
Seeking simplicity and time savings. Created for small businesses (SMBs), it will later be available to any business on Facebook. However it’s clearly intended for SMBs and focuses on simplification of content management across Facebook properties.
WhatsApp is not currently included, but that will be integrated next year.
Simplified UI of Facebook Business Suite
The benefits of the new UI include:
- Ability to manage posts on Facebook and Instagram from the same UI
- A common inbox for messages and notifications from both Facebook and Instagram
- Analytics and insights for both sites in the same location
All in one place. According to Facebook VP of Small Business Rich Rao, the new app was developed after feedback from SMBs who wanted simpler tools that centralized and consolidated content, messaging, ads (boosted posts) and analytics in a single location. “The value of simplicity is even higher than we thought,” said Rao, “especially right now.”
Facebook and Instagram insights in the same place
In conjunction with the product announcement, Facebook released multiple reports showcasing changing consumer behavior and the current predicament of SMBs in the U.S. and around the world.
Consumers concerned about SMB survival. You’ve seen or heard most of the consumer insights in the many reports that have been released since the onset of COVID-19. In short, people are using digital tools (social media, search, messaging) to find and engage with businesses (online and off) even more than they were pre-COVID. Many consumers are also self-consciously trying to support SMBs because they’re concerned for their survival (34%). Survey respondents also indicated a corresponding intention to spend more with small businesses.
Facebook’s SMB survey (part of joint research with the OECD and World Bank) captured 25,000 SMB responses from multiple countries. All the businesses surveyed had Facebook Pages. The findings reflect a challenging economic environment amid a faltering recovery.
Digital sellers doing better. Some of the SMB insights from the survey include the following:
- 44% of SMBs were making more than 25% of their sales through online channels
- 38% of operational SMBs on Facebook said 50% or more of their sales were made digitally in the 30 days
- Businesses less than 5 years old, run by women, those with more education and/or founders under 40 were more likely to have at least 25% of sales from digital channels
In other words, businesses that are actively promoting themselves online and conducting e-commerce — the report also emphasizes selling through social media channels — are generally in a healthier and economically stronger position than their peers. And that’s probably accurate.
Separately, Yelp released a new local economic impact report  this week. It finds some resilience among home, local and professional services, as well as automotive. But it also finds that restaurants, retail and several other sectors are struggling or seeing high failure rates. The Yelp report makes the shocking statement that 60% of businesses on the platform, that closed since March, are now permanently closed.
Why we care. The pandemic and global recession are existential threats  to hundreds of thousands if not millions of SMBs, which create a substantial percentage of new jobs in the U.S. Making digital marketing tools more accessible and easier for them to use is critical for their success.
I haven’t actually seen the Facebook Business Suite dashboard and UI, just the screenshots. But it does appear to deliver on the promise of simplification.
SMB surveys often show Facebook as the number one or number two marketing channel used by business owners. Facebook Business Suite has the potential to make them better social media marketers, which could then have a material impact on SMB sales — and survival.
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