Facebook announced this morning it would begin testing a new experience for discovering businesses in its News Feed in the U.S. When live, users tap on topics they’re interested in underneath posts and ads in their News Feed to explore related business content. The change comes when Facebook has been arguing how Apple’s App Tracking Transparency update will impact its small business customers — a claim many have dismissed as misleading but led some mom and pop shops to express concern about the impacts to their ad targeting capabilities, as a result. This new test is an example of how easily Facebook can tweak its News Feed to build out more data on its users if needed.
The company suggests users may see the change under posts and ads from businesses selling beauty products, fitness, or clothing, among other things. The idea here is that Facebook would direct users to related firms through a News Feed feature when they take a specific action to discover related content. This, in turn, could help Facebook create a new set of data on its users, in terms of which users clicked to see more and what sort of businesses they engaged with, among other things. Over time, it could turn this feature into an ad unit, if desired, where companies could pay for higher placement.
“People already discover businesses while scrolling through News Feed, and this will make it easier to discover and consider new businesses they might not have found on their own,” the company noted in a brief announcement.
Facebook didn’t detail its further plans with the test but said as it learned from how users interacted with the feature, it will expand the experience to more people and businesses.
Along with news of the test, Facebook said it would roll out more tools for business owners this month, including the ability to create, publish and schedule Stories to both Facebook and Instagram; make changes and edits to Scheduled Posts; and soon, create and manage Facebook Photos and Albums from Facebook’s Business Suite. It will also shortly add the ability to create and save Facebook and Instagram posts as drafts from the Business Suite mobile app.
Related to the business updates, Facebook updated features across ad products focused on connecting businesses with customer leads, including Lead Ads, Call Ads and Click to Messenger Lead Generations.
Facebook earlier this year announced a new Facebook Page experience that gave businesses the ability to engage on the social network with their business profile for things like posting, commenting, and liking, and access to their own dedicated News Feed. And it had removed the Like button in favor of focusing on Followers.
It is not a coincidence that Facebook is touting its tools for small businesses at a time when there’s a concern — much of it loudly shouted by Facebook itself — that its platform could be less helpful to small business owners shortly when ad targeting capabilities become less precise as users vote “no” when Facebook’s iOS app asks if it can track them.