Facebook this morning launched a new app designed to make it easier for businesses to manage in a single place their pages and profiles across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The app, Facebook Business Suite, combines access to the business’s key updates and priorities, and offers a way to draft and schedule feed posts for both Facebook and Instagram, view insights and create ads.
To use the new app, business will first need to link their Facebook and Instagram business accounts, if they hadn’t already.
Once logged into Facebook, the Business Suite can be accessed on the desktop at business.facebook.com. On mobile, users of the existing Pages Manager App will see an option to join Business Suite instead. The app will also become available as a standalone download for both iOS and Android.
Inside Business Suite, business owners will be able to see critical alerts, messages, comments and other activity taking place across Facebook and Instagram right in the new app’s home screen. They can also set up personalized saved replies here, in order to respond to common customer inquiries.
The app offers tools for creating feed posts for Facebook and Instagram, scheduling posts and provides insights on what’s working. Here, businesses can view their posts’ reach, engagement and performance across both Facebook and Instagram. They can also choose to create an ad to help boost that engagement and grow their audience, if needed.
Facebook says it’s initially building Facebook Business Suite with the needs of small businesses first, as so many have been forced by the pandemic to find new ways to reach customers and sell online. However, the long-term plan is to build out a set of tools that can be used by all businesses, including larger ones. The company aims to address that market sometime next year. Business Suite will also expand to include WhatsApp in the future.
Related to the news, Facebook published two surveys offering insights on small business trends. One, the monthly Global State of Small Business Report, produced in partnership with the World Bank and OECD, found that businesses that make more than 25% of sales online are more likely to be reporting higher sales this year, and are less likely to have laid off employees.
A second study details the impact of COVID-19 on consumer purchasing patterns and use of digital tools. Nearly half of respondents said they spent more money online overall since the outbreak, and 40% increased their use of social media and online messaging for product and business recommendations, Facebook says.
Of course, these fairly upbeat reports on the state of small businesses in the midst of the pandemic don’t provide the full picture. In the U.S., for example, Yelp is reporting that 60% of the U.S. businesses that closed due to COVID-19 won’t be re-opening. As of August, 163,735 U.S. businesses have closed since the start of the pandemic, the report said, up 23% since mid-July.
These closures could impact Facebook as well, as the majority of Facebook’s advertisers are small and medium-sized businesses. But Facebook’s global nature protects it. Even if the U.S. loses more small businesses due to its mishandling of the pandemic, there are far more advertisers outside the U.S. that Facebook taps into.
Facebook says the Business Suite will gradually roll out during the month of September. The app joins several other Facebook offers today for its business customers, including Facebook Pages Manager, Facebook Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager. However, Facebook notes that its new Business Suite isn’t currently designed to serve those who use Ads Manager.