Facebook business tool links like-for-like customers

Lookalike Audiences helps firms find new clients abroad similar to their existing ones

Businesses can use Facebook’s new Lookalike Audiences tool to find new customers abroad. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

Businesses can use Facebook’s new Lookalike Audiences tool to find new customers abroad. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

 

Facebook has unveiled new tools that will help small businesses to connect with global marketplaces quickly, using the social network as a platform.

Companies can use the new Lookalike Audiences tool to find customers in new countries similar to their existing ones, while improved targeting tools are designed to help businesses who want to increase app installs, app engagement or conversion on site, with the ability to target people worldwide or in specific regions.

“They’re incredibly powerful. They make targeting and finding customers abroad in foreign markets even easier,” explained Ciaran Quilty, Facebook’s small and medium business director for the Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. “Overnight a local business can become a global business.”

Facebook’s statistics say that one billion people on its platform are connected to a business in another country, with 83 per cent of people on Facebook in Ireland connected to at least one business in a foreign country.

The company defines “connected” as engagement such as liking a company page, sharing posts or commenting on updates.

According to its figures, Irish businesses have attracted connections from more than 55 million people around the world.

Unsurprisingly, Irish businesses are among the top five countries that people in the UK connect with.

“The engagement is huge on Facebook. If you look at any of the engagement stats, they’re truly staggering,” Mr Quilty said.

‘Power to share’

He highlighted how over a billion messages are sent directly between people and businesses using Messenger each month, and spoke about the number of comments and interactions with business pages on the platform.

“It’s why so many customers are returning to and using Facebook all the time and why there are so many new customers.

“People use Facebook because it works, it drives value for money, they sell their products, they grow their company,” he said.

One major driver for companies is mobile, he said, with more companies aware of the power and reach of the mobile platform.

Irish SMEs have, in the past, been singled out for failing to take advantage of the move towards online business, with the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) figures noting more than a third have no online presence.

The growth of Facebook as a business tool may help shift this balance.

But Mr Quilty dismissed the idea that Facebook has become more of a business tool than a social platform, comparing the News Feed, which recently turned 10 years old, to a conversation around the dinner table, where people discuss what they were up to, the places they visited, the latest recommendations for dining, the new brands people want to engage with.

“Our mission is to help people connect by giving people the power to share. A vital part of that is businesses; it’s also a vital part of our experience,” he said.

“It’s why people like it and come back. SMEs and businesses large and small have a vital role to play in that because it makes the News Feed a richer experience, for people on Facebook, and it also allows businesses to reach people where they are, grow their companies and ultimately employ more people.”