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Facebook Adds Gift Card Discovery Tool, Service Impact Listings to Help Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

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Facebook is rolling out some new measures to assist businesses dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns, including more specific detail on its $100 million small business grant program, and new tools that will enable people to support local providers.

First off, on grants – last month, Facebook announced a $100 million grants program with the aim of assisting 30,000 SMBs in 30 nations. Facebook has now provided more detail on how the grants program will work – as per Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:

“In the US, we are committing $40 million to support 10,000 small businesses in 34 locations where our employees live and work. Those local businesses can go to facebook.com/grantsforbusiness to see the eligibility for applications, which will start in the US next week.”

Facebook is working with small business support platform Ureeka to facilitate the grants in the US, while the remaining $60 million will be allocated via the next stage of the program, which is yet to be announced.

In addition to the grants, Facebook is also rolling out some new tools to help impacted SMBs connect with their customers via Facebook.  

The main addition is a new gift cards listing, where people will be able to find digital gift cards for their favorite local restaurants and businesses.

Facebook gift cards listing

As you can see here, the new gift card registry will be available via special News Feed prompts, while users will also be able to access the listing via the function menu.

The process will make it easier for people to show their support for impacted stores by buying gift cards, even if the store itself is unable to open. That could help to prop these businesses up in the weeks ahead, as they push to meet financial obligations as a result of lost business.

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The gift card registry is being rolled out to selected users in the US from today, and will be available broadly across the US within the coming weeks. Facebook notes that Instagram is also working on a similar registry, which was spotted in testing by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong last week.

Instagram gift cards

Businesses who want to register for the gift card registry, and who are in the regions where it’s being made available, can sign up for the program here.

In addition to this, Facebook is also adding a new option that will enable business owners to create personal fundraisers on Facebook, in order to call on their customers for support.

Facebook business fundraisers

The option will provide another way for businesses looking to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 shutdowns to seek support from their local communities. 

And finally, Facebook is also adding some new Page options which will enable impacted businesses to list temporary changes to their operations as a result of COVID-19.

Facebook business Page changes

As explained by Facebook:

Businesses that have changed how they operate, like fitness studios offering virtual classes or restaurants offering delivery instead of dine-in service, can easily indicate those changes to customers. Businesses that are subject to closures can share that they are temporarily closed.”

Any changes you make will be reflected on your business Page, in Page previews when people come across them in the app, in search results, and in curated lists of local resources on the platform.

Facebook temporary changes

The annotations will make it easier for users to quickly understand whether you’re open for business – and what services you’re able to provide – or to learn that your business is temporarily halted because of COVID-19 (but will return when possible). 

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“Businesses can access this feature by going to Page Settings > Page Info > Hours > Select “Temporary Service Changes”. There, they can either indicate that a location is “Temporarily Closed”, or select from multiple options under “Open with Service Changes”, like:

  • Online Services
  • Delivery
  • Pickup
  • Other Changes

Businesses that choose “Other Changes” are encouraged to post about special hours for the elderly, access to gift card purchases or similar options.”

These are some good additions, which will provide assistance for the many businesses that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. The current global shutdowns are set to have a huge economic impact, and while many businesses are simply unable to operate, some are still finding ways to push ahead, and keep their revenue moving despite the conditions.

The more we can support these businesses, the better – and with gift cards, we can also support those that are losing out entirely because of the enforced closures. These new tools will enable people to contribute to those in their local community, and help to minimize the financial hurt that many will be feeling in the months ahead.

These are important additions, and it’s good to see Facebook continually working to find ways to support businesses in need. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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Meta’s Developing the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision

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Meta's Developing the World's Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision


As it looks to a future in the currently theoretical ‘metaverse’, Meta will need to up its computing power and systems in order to facilitate simultaneous connection in wholly immersive digital worlds, while it’ll also need more advanced computing power to fuel the next stage of its AI plans, in various forms.

Which is why Meta is developing a new AI Research SuperCluster (RSC), which it says will eventually become the fastest AI supercomputer in the world, when it’s fully built out by mid-2022.

The advanced system will eventually be able to perform ‘5 exaflops of mixed precision compute’ at peak. Which, I have no real idea of what that truly means, but basically, Meta’s new, advanced computational system will be able to process huge amounts of data, facilitating development in a wide range of applications, with a specific view towards the next stage of its metaverse vision.

As explained by Meta:

RSC will help Meta’s AI researchers build new and better AI models that can learn from trillions of examples; work across hundreds of different languages; seamlessly analyze text, images, and video together; develop new augmented reality tools; and much more. We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together.”

AR is clearly a key focus, with Meta developing its own AR-enabled glasses that will expand the use cases for the technology. The RSC will provide increased capacity to develop more complex AR systems, which could advance Meta’s tools beyond what’s currently available, which would ideally see its AR glasses become the top of the line, most advanced model available, helping Meta potentially dominate the space over rivals Snapchat and Apple.

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Unless, of course, Snap and Apple team up, which is my prediction. But even so, with the additional computing power of the RSC behind it, Meta could still be well ahead, which could be a key step in bridging our current online experience to the next stage.

Which is where Meta is really focused:

“Ultimately, the work done with RSC will pave the way toward building technologies for the next major computing platform – the metaverse, where AI-driven applications and products will play an important role.

It’s worth noting here that Meta specifically notes that the metaverse will take years to develop, it’s not something that’s happening overnight, nor will it become an all-immersive, integrated world by next year. Which is why any company or project that’s pitching itself as ‘metaverse ready’ is kidding itself – the metaverse, as it’s broadly envisioned, will require massive collaboration between platforms, in order to transfer your digital identity between virtual worlds, and take your avatars, skins, digital items, and more with you.

Meta is keen to reiterate that it won’t own that space, as such:

No one company can (or should) build the metaverse alone. It will be built by people and businesses all over the world. And it’ll be important that experiences built by different companies or people, like avatars or virtual worlds, work together.

But really, Meta is best-placed to host the party, via its industry-leading consumer VR tools and advanced computing systems like RSC, which will give it a significant advantage in dictating what the metaverse will be, and who will be able to sign up.

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Eventually, this will require industry agreement on schemas and systems that will likely enable any service to join. But they’ll still need a host platform, along with software/hardware connection. Meta will be at the forefront of that aspect, which, again, will see it well-placed to define the rules of the space, and dominate the next stage of digital connection – whether it technically ‘owns’ it or not.

But it is worth noting that the metaverse does not exist yet, not in any form, and any platform or project that claims otherwise is ultimately misleading. Those NFT projects that claim to be ‘metaverse-ready’, yeah, no, maybe avoid them.

Eventually, Meta’s RSC will give it significant advantages in developing new systems for everything from combating harmful content on its platforms to building entirely new user experiences. The potential here is massive, and while it will take time to see the results of these developments, it’ll be interesting to see how Meta’s processes evolve in turn, and whether these advanced systems result in a significant acceleration in its development cycles.

You can read more technical details on Meta’s RSC project here.





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TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement

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TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement


TikTok has partnered with brand suitability platform Zefr on a new brand safety post-bid measurement solution for in-feed ads, which will enable advertisers to ensure that their TikTok promotions don’t appear alongside potentially offensive material.

As you can see here, using Zefr’s dashboard, which provides insights into each campaign by mapping it against the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) Suitability Risk categories, advertisers will now be able to ensure that their TikTok ads are not shown next to content that they don’t want to be associated with.

As explained by TikTok:

“This solution will provide advertisers with campaign insights into brand safety and brand suitability for their TikTok campaigns. These insights provide clients with third-party impartial reassurance that their investment is delivered next to content suitable for their brand, protecting brand reputation and mitigating risk.”

Zefr’s advanced ‘Cognition AI’ process utilizes audio, text, and frame-by-frame video analysis, along with scaled human review, to determine brand safety, and provide full assurance on potential ad placement.

With TikTok’s challenges and posts sometimes veering into dangerous territory, the option will help to reassure brands that their campaigns won’t end up being associated with potential harm, which could help TikTok secure even more ad spend.

Though it could be difficult to 100% guarantee success here. For example, the recent ‘Milk Crate Challenge’ on TikTok started off innocently enough, but eventually lead to increasingly risky and dangerous behaviors, which resulted in serious injuries to some participants. Other TikTok challenges could follow a similar evolution – though the additional assurance of Zefr’s systems will ideally help to catch these out before they become a potential brand risk, or at the least, as soon as they’re identified as a problem.

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It’s a good integration, and another key step in TikTok’s broader expansion of its ad tools.

The new TikTok Zefr integration is available to advertisers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.



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How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]

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How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]

Looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts in 2022?

As we head into the new year, it’s worth revising your business goals, and establishing a clear direction for your digital marketing process. Maybe you’re happy with the growth and interaction you’re seeing, and how that’s then leading to conversion, but over the past two years, in particular, there’s no doubt been some level of disruption to your marketing plans.

With that in mind, this infographic from the team at Click Dimensions could help. They’ve put together a simple overview of how to establish your social media marketing goals, including which metrics to focus on, how to increase engagement, and the importance of adapting as things progress.

It could help to spark some new thinking in your approach – check out the full infographic below.

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