Few friends are more important to Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg than businesses.

During Facebook’s third-quarter earnings call on Nov. 2 its CEO, who last year revealed a 10-year plan for the company, outlined what he called a three-phase strategy to help businesses and their customers connect using the social network.

“The first phase is building a great consumer experience and getting it to scale,” he said. “The second phase is about enabling people to organically interact with businesses. And then the third phase is to give businesses tools to reach more people, and that’s where we build our business.”

Naturally mobile devices, which continue to represent 84 per cent of Facebook’s ad revenue, are included in that strategy. However, Zuckerberg admitted that while he believes Facebook subsidiary Instagram has entered the so-called “third phase,” with more than 500 million monthly and overthan 300 million daily active users, its mobile instant messaging platform Messenger remains early in the second, though he extolled the virtues of recently adding such business-friendly features as chatbot support, noting that more than 33,000 bots are now live on the platform.

“We’re helping businesses and consumers increasingly interact in richer ways,” he said.

Another focus, Zuckerberg said, is building communities around brand new apps such as Workplace, the recently launched Slack competitor that essentially allows companies to create a private Facebook for their employees, and which is already used by more than 1000 organizations, including Starbucks, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Danone; and Marketplace, a Kijiji-like service integrated into the main Facebook app that Zuckerberg said has been used by millions.

Marketing efforts remain mobile-first

Elsewhere, Facebook’s marketing efforts continue to focus on three priorities: capitalizing on the shift to mobile, increasing the number of marketers using its ad products, and making ads more relevant and effective, COO Sheryl Sandberg said during the call, emphasizing that as users have shifted to mobile, Facebook remains focused on “helping businesses catch up.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says the company is committed to helping businesses reach customers through their mobile devices.

“We know that marketing shifts take time,” she said. “The first TV ads showed people standing in front of microphones reading their radio ads. Similarly, many of the first mobile video ads were TV ads dropped into mobile. Ads optimized for each platform often perform better, so marketers are increasingly tailoring their creative for mobile.”

As an example, Sandberg cited Proctor & Gamble’s Tide laundry detergent, which in a typical TV ad begins with a clean dress or shirt before showing it getting stained, then cleaned with Tide. Because messages need to be delivered on mobile devices more quickly, the company’s mobile ads begin by showing Tide cleaning a stained garment.

And though full-service marketing agencies initially chafed at such restrictions, they can serve as a boon to the many small businesses who use Facebook as their sole online marketing platform, she said.

“Rather than needing a camera crew and production budget, anyone with a smartphone can shoot a video and share it on Facebook,” Sandberg said. “In the past month alone, over 3 million small businesses have posted a video on Facebook, including organic posts and ads.”

She also cited Facebook’s recently introduced lookalike audience and dynamic ads features – the latter a tool that shows users interested in a type of product or company where they might find what they’re looking for nearby – as examples of its efforts to make ads more relevant and effective.

“Our goal is to be the number one driver of growth for our clients,” Sandberg said. “We’re pleased with the value we’re driving for our partners and remain focused on helping them make the shift to mobile.”

Meanwhile, the company’s worldwide user base continues to grow: 1.79 billion people used Facebook in September, according to the company, a significant gain from the 1.7 billion user base reported last quarter, with 1.09 billion mobile users on an average day, an increase of 22 per cent over last year.

Our thanks to investment research platform Seeking Alpha for the transcriptions from Facebook’s Nov. 2 Q3 earnings call.

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