Facebook Ends 2015 With 50 Million Local Businesses
The social network is adding new communication tools to connect marketers and customers.
Facebook has signed up over 50 million — up from 40 million this past spring — local businesses around the world to its Pages program, and to celebrate that milestone, the social net is rolling out a range of messaging management tools for its brand users.
With roughly 2.5 billion comments being added to businesses’ Pages every month, Facebook is allowing owners to set the average time it takes for them to reply to messages: either “within minutes,” “within an hour,” “within hours” or “within a day.”
Average response times for Pages are set for each Page automatically. The response time shown on the Page defaults to their average amount of minutes it takes for a marketer to contact a customer.
Still, Page administrators can now control what response time shows publicly on their Facebook site. If a Page typically responds to messages within an hour, they can set their visible response time to within a day and set customer expectations accordingly, Facebook said.
The redesigned inbox aims to tell businesses more about their customers to better serve them. Armed with that knowledge, businesses can reply faster and manage conversations more easily, Facebook claims.
One easier way to respond to and keep track of comments involves a tool under the new Activity tab that helps admins monitor and respond to comments on their Page.
“People can contact businesses anytime and from any device, so we’re offering new tools for Pages to better manage their customer interactions,” said Michael Sharon, Product Manager, Pages, in a statement. “Now it’s easier than ever for Pages to address both the public comments and private messages that people send them, in order to build and maintain strong relationships and grow their business.”
The new messaging addition builds on features added this past summer, such as allowing consumers to let a business how well its response time was managed in order to offer insight into the quality of their customer service.
“We set a high standard for the feature by adding the ‘very responsive to messages’ indicator only to Pages where 90 percent of messages were responded to within five minutes,” Sharon said. “Now we’re offering new controls and more responsiveness levels, so a wider range of businesses can encourage people to reach out to them through private messages.”
Facebook has also created a new messaging status called “away” that allows admins to designate when they are unavailable to respond to messages.
The feature is one of several intended to promote a more reliable digital presence for local businesses and take the mystery out of whether or not a person should go out to a store or if they’ll need to wait a bit. For instance, if a Page turns off messaging at night, people will see that the Page is not responding to messages at that time and know not to expect a response right away. When this new feature is enabled, messages the Page receives do not count toward the Page’s response rate.
“Similar to our saved replies feature that launched earlier this year, Page admins can now also set Away Messages and Instant Replies. Away Messages are replies to messages sent automatically when a Page is set to away and can be used to inform people about when to expect a response or where to find other information,” Sharon said. “Instant Replies are messages sent automatically to people who message the Page for the first time. Businesses can use Instant Replies to automatically respond to incoming messages immediately, whether they say hello, thank the person for reaching out or offer them information that may help them before the business gets in touch.”