New Facebook features aim for small firms

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this post originally appeared on Newsday.com
People who run small businesses — especially solo entrepreneurs low on staff and resources — can use several new features being rolled out by Facebook to engage with customers and get more attention for products and services.

For one thing, the “new Facebook” offers more chances for an entrepreneur to make a business’ “presence more visually engaging,” says Paul Biedermann, owner re:DESIGN, a branding/marketing business in Huntington.

Here’s a rundown:

(full breakdown of all the new features here)

Timeline:

This digital scrapbook is to be the newest incarnation of the profile page — a collection of photos, past updates, places you’ve visited — where you can fill in the gaps on trips, accomplishments, just about anything.

At the top, users can post a large “impactful, branded picture and make a bigger splash,” says Biedermann. Though a lawsuit claiming trademark infringement has been filed by owners of a site called Timelines.com, a Facebook representative said Tuesday the new feature is still expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks. Some users have already updated through a few simple steps.

Small businesses with few resources and for whom Facebook is not a high marketing priority can now bypass setting up a Facebook business page and opt instead to combine Timeline with other new features, says Jeff Namnum of South Hempstead, co-founder of Socialisle Llc, a consulting and education company.

Subscribe

Facebook users can allow people to view their public posts without going through the friending process. Much like following someone on Twitter, if you subscribe to someone who activates this feature, you will see his or her public status updates in your news feed.

That means entrepreneurs can ask people to subscribe to them instead of connecting as friends or “liking” their business page, which carries a kind of endorsement.

And subscriptions is yet another source for industry news and updates — without going through an approval process, says Seth Meyerowitz, a Google and online marketing trainer in Bellmore.

Ticker

Found to the upper right of the news feed, this is a real-time scroll of friends’ day-to-day activities — whom they’ve friended, where they’ve commented, and brands they have “liked.”

“It’s all about that real-time space,” says Namnum, whose “like” of Aloft Hotels showed up Tuesday in his friends’ Tickers, allowing them to click on the hotel’s Facebook page and on to its website.

Such posts need to be “short and sweet,” says Erin O’Hara, design and interactive program coordinator for Bethpage Federal Credit Union. On such a fast-moving scroll, “people want to skim.”

by PATRICIA KITCHEN  patricia.kitchen@newsday.com


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