While some companies are already taking advantage of the latest features rolled out this week at Facebook's annual developer conference F8, they won’t necessarily be game changing for most entrepreneurs.
One new tool, Bots for Messenger, promises to provide users automated subscription content, everything from weather updates to parcel tracking. Ecommerce platform Shopify announced this week that it will already be incorporating the new feature, working with Facebook to offer live customer service, automatic order confirmations and shipping updates all within Messenger.
Shopify's senior product manager Brandon Chu said of the move in a statement: “Our decision to integrate with Messenger and build commerce bots is designed to help merchants develop deeper relationships with their customers and give them an opportunity to reinforce their brand’s personality.”
While there is something to be said for wanting to utilize these features to develop closer ties with customers, author and investor Carol Roth says that there might be some bugs to work out before they can truly be effective.
"While it has a lot of interesting potential, I do think one of the big assets and differentiating factors for small business is their ability to personalize their interactions with customers, so I would suggest using this new feature with caution," she told Entrepreneur. "I also imagine that these bots will have issues in the beginning, so perhaps waiting before jumping on this new feature might be warranted."
Another new feature that Facebook is touting is the Facebook Live API that will allow content publishers and developers to build out their own live broadcasting experiences. Recently, Facebook Live made headlines with a Buzzfeed livestream that garnered more than 3.1 million viewers for a fairly simple conceit: tying rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded.
Roth says that live video could be an intriguing way for small businesses to add another dimension of interaction with their customers, but it won't necessarily be an appropriate addition in every industry.
"Apparel and other consumer brands that can show off live fashion shows or create content around the types of conversations already organically happening on Facebook will be the best fit," she says. "There are certain businesses whose customers don't want to engage with them on that platform because it doesn't fit into the conversations they are having there. These new features won't change that foundational principle."
Another recently announced tool also aims to help with organization and better understanding of customer demographics. The new Save Button will allow users to save links, articles, products and images to a dedicated list. For example, if a user saved an article about pre-ordering the new iPhone or the deadline of a crowdfunding campaign, Facebook would send a notification when that date arrived.
Facebook Analytics for Apps was released at 2015’s F8, and this year, the service, which the company says is used with 450,000 apps, got several updates. Users can now take a look at aggregated and anonymous info about the people using apps without having to log into the site. Additionally, the service allows you to see the most popular links shared from your website on Facebook and you can delve into data about your users, such as age and gender, which devices they are using, country and even what version of the app.