« Back to journal

This New Facebook & Instagram Feature Can Boost Your Sales

The retail industry has suffered many blows over recent years, but no one has felt this more than independent shops.

Online shopping has seen a massive increase in popularity of late, as lockdown measures continue to restrict the opening of non-essential stores.

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced new features that will help small businesses sell their products through Facebook and Instagram.

Introducing: Facebook Shops.

What is Facebook Shops?

Although it’s always possible to sell goods through Facebook, it was often a confusing, unintuitive experience for both merchants and customers.

Shops is a mobile-first shopping experience where businesses create an online store, choose the products they want to display and customise their branding – all without leaving Facebook.

Customers can browse and save products as you would on an e-commerce website.

A Facebook Shop can also be connected to WhatsApp and FB Messenger so you can answer customer queries directly. It was also hinted that customers will be able to purchase directly through these messaging tools in the near future.

The goal is to replicate the shopping experience you would deliver in-store.

What about Instagram?

Some businesses, such as fashion retailers, consider Instagram to be the more important avenue for attracting and connecting with customers.

Good news: Facebook Shop works seamlessly with Instagram – it’s one unified shop that works on both channels.

Customers can access through both your profile and by swiping up on Instagram Stories – great news for those who have less than 10,000 followers.

Another game-changing feature being introduced is ‘Live Video Shopping’.

In addition to the live-streaming features we mentioned in a previous blog piece, customers will be able to purchase products directly from a live-stream.

Much like the introduction of shoppable tags last year, these new features have the potential to turn Instagram into a complete social shopping experience.

What Does This Mean for Small Businesses?

It means that it’s now much easier to build and maintain an e-commerce presence. 

Facebook is also working with partners such as Shopify, so if you already have a website, you’ll be able to sell through Facebook Shops too. Giving your customers multiple channels to purchase from can lead to more sales.

An important note to make is that you cannot currently check-out through Facebook or Instagram in the UK. Customers will need to finish the transaction via your website.

Checkout for Instagram has already been rolled out in the US, so it won’t be long before it’s available here.

Checkout for Instagram

In the meantime, start thinking about how to incorporate Facebook Shops into your e-commerce strategy.

Take Instagram-worthy photos of your products, use Messenger as a customer service tool and stream-line your website’s checkout journey. 

If you would like to read the full Facebook Shops announcement, you can do so here.

E1MA are working on two exciting new projects to test these new features and expand our expertise on e-commerce. Watch this space for more details!

Key Considerations Before Re-opening Your Business

As we cautiously take our first steps out of lockdown, many businesses will be keen to resume trading. Those in the hospitality sector, who’ve had their revenues entirely slashed, will want to open as soon as possible.

Here we explore the challenges your business faces, and how to adapt accordingly.

1. Plan Carefully

The PM recently announced that hospitality businesses could be allowed to open from 1st July, provided they follow social distancing rules.

If your business is solely offline and not generating revenue, you’ll likely want to re-open as soon it’s permitted.

But this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. Operations will have to change to reflect the post-lockdown world we’re entering. 

The premises might have to be rearranged, staff retrained, and supply chains restarted.

Explore the challenges your business might face in re-opening, and how you can overcome them. It is essential you don’t rush the process. Use the time between now and July to plan and prepare.

2. Adhere to Social Distancing Rules

As we mentioned, your premises will have to undergo changes to make it safer for both staff and customers.

Government advice on this is continually being updated, but we can assume that tables will need to be kept at least 1 or 2 metres apart.

In Italy, who have just started re-opening cafes & restaurants, plastic screens have been placed at tills and between tables:

Source: The Metro

It’s too soon to say whether the UK government will adopt this approach, but it’s worth taking into consideration.

Regardless, the entire premises will need to be thoroughly cleaned daily, right down to the door handles. Hand sanitiser should be available to use. If you have seating areas, they should be disinfected in-between customers.

Provide masks and gloves for your employees. Not only do they offer protection, but they also act as a visual indication that you’re taking the safety of customers seriously.

3. Take Reservations

Social distancing measures, such as the 2-metre rule, above will no doubt slash the seating capacity of businesses.

Pre-bookings will allow you to control the flow of customers and therefore the safety of your establishment.

Customers will not want to stand inside a restaurant waiting for a table. If you don’t already have an online booking system, implement one as soon as possible. 

This doesn’t have to involve complicated IT systems – a quicker solution is to set up your pages Facebook Messenger to answer customer queries. You can answer them yourself or, more intuitively, set up a chatbot.

We often create chatbots for our clients here at E1MA, as it acts as both a way to communicate with customers and as a promotional tool:

A chatbot can answer any potential questions a customer may have, including the steps you’ve taken to make your premises as safe as possible.

4. Set Up Google My Business

Aside from social media, Google is where customers will search for information on your business.

This is while it’s imperative that your Google My Business page is up-to-date with your latest opening hours, menu and contact details.

What is Google My Business? It’s essentially a listing service that allows you business to appear in Google Maps and next to search results:

Creating an account is free, fast and could increase pre-bookings and foot traffic.

5. Communicate With Your Customers

Once your business is ready to re-open, announce it on social media. 

Clearly communicate the measures you’ve taken to ensure the customer’s experience is as safe as possible: 

How we're looking after teams and customers

Our newly reopened Pret shops look and feel a little different, thanks to the safety and social distancing measures we’ve put in place. Thanks for your support and stay safe ❤️

Posted by Pret A Manger on Friday, May 1, 2020

Take photos of your newly-transformed premises and upload these in a carousel post, so potential customers know what to expect.

When it comes to a caption, a candid approach might work best.

Consumers desperately want to support their local businesses during this time, so be transparent regarding the challenges you’ve faced during lockdown and in re-opening.

Reply to any and all questions that are asked within the comments. Even regular patrons will be hesitant to visit your premises at first, so a positive, reassuring tone of voice is essential.

Finally, gather customer feedback – did you feel safe? Was the service fast? What improvements can you make?

This is new to everyone, so don’t worry if things aren’t perfect – consumers will be much more understanding. If there’s one message that’s been illustrated during the pandemic, it’s that we are all in this together.

5 Great Facebook Communities and Why Your Brand Needs One

Facebook has been encouraging users to join ‘meaningful groups’ in recent years, and the power of community has been illustrated throughout the pandemic.

In fact, over 400 million people are in one Facebook community or another. From a brand’s perspective, these groups gather all your most dedicated fans in one convenient place. 

As we covered in a previous blog piece, groups such as Scrub Hub bring together like-minded people for a common cause or interest.

We take a look at some of our favourite Facebook communities.

1. Borough Market

London’s Borough Market has long been a hub for the local community, and this has been replicated online through their Facebook group.

Recognising that the pandemic has severely limited offline interactions, the Borough Market Community aims to “keep us all connected, sharing and talking, whilst we may not be able to in person’.

The 3000+ members share and discuss their latest culinary creations:

Whilst Borough Market themselves host #BoroughTalks, Zoom calls featuring professional chefs, giving fans the chance to get cooking tips in a more personal manner:

As we discussed last week, Facebook will soon allow creators to charge for access to live-streams. Expect to see more high-quality content in this style.

2. Dogspotting

Facebook communities don’t have to revolve around a particular location like Borough Market. 

Animals have always been wildly popular on social media.

Dogs in particular have seen a monumental increase in popularity (sorry cats), as illustrated by FB groups such as Dogspotting.

With a whopping 1.7 million members, Dogspotting isn’t just a place to view cute dog photos – it’s become a de-facto sport, with its own rules and regulations.

In their own words, Dogspotting is:

  1. A sport and lifestyle of spotting random dogs.
  2. Classifying the nature of the sport according to the rule set.
  3. Assigning a score or sharing the spot for peer scoring.
  4. A fun place to hang out with friends and enjoy dogs.

It’s a great example of a community that doesn’t need to rally behind a just cause or a niche interest – it’s simply a space for fans to share and enjoy photos of Man’s Best Friend.

3. The Cloud Appreciation Society

There really is a Facebook community for everything out there. This 30,000+ group brings one of our most ancient pastimes into the digital era.

“We feel as though the clouds don’t get as much acknowledgement as they deserve. It’s time to unite to raise awareness, appreciate and admire the beauty of these underrated, natural spectacles”.  – The Cloud Appreciation Society

The beauty of this group is there are zero barriers to entry – anyone can take part:

FB groups don’t get much simpler than this one – which is exactly why it’s so popular. 

The Cloud Appreciation Society reminds us that even if we’re located in all four corners of the world, we are united under one glorious, cloudy sky.

4. DnB Talk

While Drum ‘n’ Bass started off as a niche sub-genre of electronic music, today is massively popular, with dedicated communities across the globe.

DnB Talk is a hub for their 51k members to discuss all things DnB. New tracks, festivals, memes – anything goes:

The community has grown by 10% in the last month, demonstrating that it’s more than a place to find upcoming DnB events, but a space for fans to share their love for the genre.

5. Noisily Festival of Music & Arts Community

We started the Noisily Festival Facebook Community at the end of April 2019 as another touch point with their audience.

There are now 4.6k members of this community, and as it grew, it became clear it is not used just as a fan base or a place to share Noisily news on our side.

The Noisily community group is a place for the fans not just to find other Noisily souls, but to share their music taste, their memories, their music memes, and their countdowns to the next festival.

The insights in these communities now allow you to see best performing posts, track members and growth.

Facebook communities are a great way to see how others are engaging, see whether there is something you can improve on, and talk on a more personal level to your loyal fans.

Will This New Facebook Feature Transform Live-Streaming?

Last week, an official Facebook press release announced new live-streaming features.

These include the ability to add ‘donate’ buttons, watch Instagram live-streams on desktop and an ‘audio-only’ viewing option for slow internet connections.

Most importantly, “to support creators and small businesses, we plan to add the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook”.

Facebook hasn’t gone into detail on how this will work, but plans to introduce it “in the coming weeks”.

How Will This Benefit Me?

This is excellent news for content managers and creators.

Whilst live-streaming has become a massively popular format during the pandemic, until now there has been no simple way to monetise it.

All industries can take advantage of this new feature. From yoga classes to cookery courses, brands can now earn much-needed revenue for all their live-streaming efforts.

It also allows fans to support their favourite businesses directly, without the need to visit their offline premises.

It goes without saying that musicians will also greatly benefit from this move.

We will no doubt see the creation of more personal, high-quality videos, as live-streamers strive to provide value to paying customers.

Engagement and retention rates should receive a massive boost, as customers will feel more invested in the live-stream.

All in all, the introduction of this feature will improve the live-streaming experience for both the content creator and the viewer.

What about Facebook’s Copyright Policy?

Content creators, specifically DJs, have been struggling to live-stream recently on Facebook due to their tough stance on copyright infringement. Rightly so as well, we wholeheartedly agree with IP protection! It does present some challenges though…

It’s difficult to determine concrete policy from Facebook on exactly what their line on owned content is, and even more difficult to get advice on how to publish content legitimately within their copyright framework – because nobody seems to know. 

Nonetheless, our understanding of the platform’s copyright process for music is as follows:

  • Facebook is not a content publisher
  • Audio content is claimed by publishers. For example: major labels each have a rights management team which uses Facebook’s Rights Management platform to manage their owned content.
  • Bear in mind that all three majors also distribute music and claim content on behalf of many other partners and smaller independent labels. So while you might be spinning a niche Berlin tech classic that you think never would have even been heard on High St Kensington, you may find that the artist’s label has a distribution deal with a big bad major, which has processes for claiming content – Nein!
  • When owned content is detected automatically in a live stream the content owner is notified.
  • If the content owner does not allow the owned content to run the stream is stopped, audio muted, and in some recent cases the page is blocked from live streaming. We’re unsure about this part of the process so don’t quote us on it!

This process presents a challenge for DJs who play recorded music. One of our clients even plays his own music on live streams on Facebook which subsequently has banned him from streaming.

The only way to avoid this, as we understand, is to get an agreement in place with content publishers (e.g. the aforementioned majors) who are able to ‘white list’ a page ahead of your streams, in order to avoid falling foul of a copyright infringement.

Now try asking a DJ exactly what their set list is going to be, then proactively find out who the content owner is for every track and ask all the content owners to whitelist your page – it becomes impractical to do.

Final Words

Facebook’s copyright policy is incredibly challenging for DJ’s, whose touring revenues have been wiped out due to the pandemic. It seems that they have been left with no practical way to live stream on the platform without falling foul of the copyright framework, even if there’s an appetite to pay for recorded music – there isn’t a way to do that.

Does a DJ playing someone else’s record really pose a threat to record sales? We would argue the opposite; live streamed DJ sets are an opportunity for discovery. Consumers are not recording these sets and using them to listen to individual tracks instead of finding them on Spotify, Beatport and other platforms. Diplo’s successful live streaming activity and the fact that pluggers are serving up records to him in place of club promo is case and point to this.

Facebook have not commented on whether monetised streams will be subject to the same rules, but we expect that they will be.

If fans pay to watch a live stream only for it to get taken down by Facebook after 10 minutes, it will hurt the artist’s reputation and leave the fans disappointed. 

Artists and brands alike will have to wait and see what this exciting new feature brings, and whether Facebook will address this gap in their copyright framework.

Have a question?