Anyone who takes even an occasional peek at the calendar will realize that Christmas is fast approaching. This means that your holiday campaigns should already be nearing completion, or at least in a solid stage of development. The all-important period leading up to Christmas is crucial for all retailers and other businesses in this country, so it simply has to be managed effectively. According to Facebook, almost half of all shoppers in this country begin their holiday purchasing in November or even sooner.
That means if you haven’t already completed your campaign strategy for the season, you need to do so as soon as possible, or you’ll begin missing out on key opportunities. Facebook itself recognizes the critical nature of this time of year, and has therefore launched a pair of new features which are intended to help businesses maximize their achievements through the holiday season. The first of these is a brand-new set of customizable templates for Stories, and they can be used in Messenger, Instagram, and in Facebook itself.
The new Stories templates provide a whole slew of presentation options which are visually very effective, and which brands can make use of for showcasing any offerings they have for consumers. Since Stories has become extremely popular among platform users, it’s very likely that business users will find a great many ways to use these new templates to their advantage.
If your brand has not yet made extensive use of Stories, now would be a great time, because these new templates will give you great many more capabilities and options. The new Stories templates are accessible in Facebook Ads Manager, and they can be made use of in the following manner:
- at the Ads level, create an image ad
- choose ‘Select a placement to customize’, and then pick either Messenger Stories, Facebook Stories, or Instagram Stories
- when the pop-up appears, choose Change Template in order to select a template of your choice
- preview your ad
The customization options which you will have are available within the creation flow, some of which relate to music, background colors, and various call to action effects. These will have to be used within paid promotions, but they can also be downloaded later and re-used as standalone Stories. This new option is being rolled out gradually around the world, so it’s possible that it may not yet be visible on your Facebook account. If that’s the case, you can expect to see it in the very near future.
New Instagram Direct options
Facebook is also attempting to provide additional ways for brands to make greater use of private messaging, in this specific case by using Instagram Direct. Facebook has added brand-new functionality into Instagram Direct which will help businesses accomplish a number of goals. It has added labels to contacts, e.g. New Customer and VIP, for the purpose of providing additional context about each of these types of contacts.
You’ll now be able to search through your contacts, so that you can locate what you want or who you’re trying to reach, much faster than ever before. You’ll also be able to save your replies in Instagram Direct, so that you can streamline your responses for queries which commonly recur. It will be much easier to set up instant replies and ‘away’ messages, so that you can respond to them at your convenience, and when you have an appropriate opportunity.
Another area of added functionality is having the capability to sort direct messages into dedicated folders, so that you can manage your responses more efficiently. In increasing numbers, customers are seeking to engage with brands via direct messaging. This kind of messaging is being used far more frequently these days, as can be seen by the recent addition of the Threads app in Instagram.
It’s also worth noting that Instagram is developing the capability of adding Instagram Direct to the desktop version of its app. This will make it a whole lot easier for brands to keep track of their messaging workflow by using Instagram Direct Messaging.
Facebook Holiday Bootcamp
As an added boost to its business initiatives, Facebook is launching a new campaign which it has dubbed ‘Boost with Facebook Holiday Bootcamp’. This initiative will see the social platform opening its doors in 17 cities around the globe to provide comprehensive training for businesses. The focus of this training will be on helping brands to get the most out of their holiday campaigns, so they can capitalize on the most important consumer period of the year.
According to Facebook, there are now more than 140 million businesses which make use of Facebook and its family of apps every month. This usage centers around hiring employees, finding new customers, and engaging with the various communities of importance to those businesses. Providing assistance to these business users is a way for Facebook to help them become more efficient in those objectives and to achieve better results.
To that end, Facebook will host more than 200 free training events for non-profit organizations and small businesses. The aim of the social platform is to improve digital literacy for all these organizations, as well as to ensure that marketers make liberal use of Facebook in their campaigns. There’s no doubt that Facebook has already had a huge impact on business growth, and that it will continue to do so. These new tools and initiatives will certainly enhance that function, and provide an even greater impact on the business world.
Of course it isn’t all roses and sunshine with Facebook, because the platform has also caused a whole catalog of headaches for marketers with its strategic updates and key algorithm shifts. Much of this anxiety can be relieved by having a greater understanding of Facebook’s various systems, so that you won’t be caught off guard by sudden changes in policy. It’s also true that having a wider understanding of digital marketing can help protect you against too great a reliance on a single platform, which admittedly might change the rules of the game at any moment.
Even if your business chooses not to take advantage of the training courses which Facebook will offer through the holiday season, you can certainly still derive value and benefit from using the new tools and initiatives which Facebook is now in the process of rolling out.