Is Facebook Becoming a CRM Platform for SMBs?
December 8, 2015 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
In its quest to become an all-encompassing marketing solution for local businesses, Facebook announced a number of new tools and messaging features for Pages. At the same time the company also announced that there are now more than 50 million active business Pages on the site globally.
In an email exchange with me Facebook wouldn’t say exactly how many of the 50 million are SMBs vs. enterprises — but most of them are SMBs. In the past Facebook announced that there were 45 million active SMB Pages. I don’t recall the company’s definition of active but it probably refers to a minimum of monthly activity.
Over the summer Facebook created a badge for Page owners who respond to 90% of consumer messages within five minutes. Those Pages receive a “very responsive” badge. Beyond communicating that a Page owner delivers good service to consumers, this badge operates as an incentive for businesses to use Facebook as a communications and customer service tool.
Expanding on that idea Facebook is providing a number of new options regarding customer communications and response times. Page owners can now indicate they’ll respond “within minutes,” “within an hour,” “within hours” or “within a day.” They can also offer an “away” message and new “instant replies,” which are automatic (e.g., “Thanks for contacting us . . . “).
There are also new tools for organizing and responding to in-bound messages that enable the Page administrator to see more information about the inquiring party and to better manage follow up:
Now when Page admins message with people, they’ll see past interactions the person has had with the Page, as well as information the person shares publicly on their profile, like their current city. Admins can also add notes about the person, like current orders, past customer service preferences, or any other relevant information. Admins can also add tags to categorize conversations and make them easier to find and respond to later. Notes and tags are visible to Page admins only and, especially for Pages with more than one admin, empower Pages to communicate with customers in a personalized and seamless way.
What’s interesting to me about these developments is that they take on a CRM-lite quality. Pages are now a more robust (sorry) way to manage customer interactions. The history and contextual information about customers and prospects is part of that functionality.
Facebook has been pushing the idea that its Pages are a digital presence solution for local businesses, online but especially on mobile. It has also been building out Messenger as a customer service tool for enterprises. These new features offer corresponding capabilities for SMBs.
Whereas once Facebook Pages were about Likes and Followers, they’re now more pragmatically about customer acquisition, feedback and retention. The company is rapidly building out a powerful argument for its Pages as customer experience/service platform. And that could represent a real problem for Twitter’s identity in the market.
It’s obvious that businesses more engaged with Facebook are more likely to become paying advertisers as well. But beyond advertising and the digital presence angle, what do you think about Facebook as a CRM tool for local businesses? It gives Pages a renewed reason for being.
What’s missing is the customer database, but I’m guessing that Facebook will do something with that over time. (Custom Audiences relies on uploading a customer list/database.) In the interim, do you agree with my CRM remarks here? If so, what else do you see happening in the near future.
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