Businesses can now rule their Facebook presence with just a single app after the social network developed a “business suite” that links to Facebook, Instagram and, eventually, WhatsApp.
On Thursday, Facebook Business Suite launched for 180 million businesses that run Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts. Facebook made the product update as part of its small business push, making the new app first open to the smaller and medium-size businesses before rolling it out widely.
“Our goal with this is to help simplify and unify,” says Rich Rao, Facebook’s VP of small business. “The vision for this is to have this be the unifying interface.”
Businesses can use the app to create posts that they can simultaneously push out to Facebook and Instagram. The app includes tools for scheduling posts; it covers paid ads and unpaid posts; provides analytics to compare what’s working and what’s not; and it acts as a hub that catches all comments and messages from Facebook and Instagram.
Eventually, the app will incorporate the e-commerce and shopping tools that Facebook developed recently. It will also expand to encompass brands’ WhatsApp activities.
Over the past two years, Facebook has been tinkering with the back-end of the service to combine what it calls its family of apps, so that businesses, advertisers and creators can more seamlessly broadcast across all of them. For instance, Facebook recently started testing a feature that co-mingles Stories, the 24-hour disappearing video format, from Facebook and Instagram.
Last year, Facebook unveiled a new logo that stamped “From Facebook” on all its apps, a redesign that was intended to introduce more consistency and clarity to the services.
Some critics have noted that Facebook set out to combine its app empire just as regulators began to look into its history of acquisitions, including Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Facebook has faced questions about whether it bought those companies to stymie competition in social media. And there have been calls by prominent politicians to “break up” Facebook.
Increasingly, for businesses, the platform is a single experience to maintain a virtual connection with customers. Facebook has been highlighting its role as a hive of commerce, a lifeline for small businesses, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook wants to showcase how it can help businesses stay afloat during periods like the recent lockdowns that forced many shops to shut down.
In a new marketing campaign this week, Facebook and Droga5 New York released a short film about the plight of local businesses, focusing on Coogan’s, a storied New York pub. Facebook has also developed a small business center, offering online tools for businesses.
“They’ve been shifting their businesses online and we’ve seen that happen with, for sure, Facebook,” says Rao, referring to small businesses. “Our vision is to have a single place for people to manage their businesses across our apps.”