To put that in perspective, Twitter is used by 313 million people per month, Instagram has 500 million monthly active users. By any measure, Messenger is huge, and Facebook recently been working to update the Messenger experience in order to enable brands to reach their customers via direct message.
And that’s likely to become an increasingly popular option – here’s why.
As social media has risen to prominence in the last decade, people have become more and more accustomed to posting their everyday life and experiences online. The strength of social is that is enables everyone to have a voice, but at the same time, that openness and accessibility comes with its own problems – most notably, in terms of public record.
Over time, people have also grown more wary about what they’re posting online and who might see it. Indeed, studies have shown that up to 92% of recruitment professionals now refer to candidates’ social media profiles when assessing them for a position, which, if you’ve recorded the good, bad and ugly of your life on Facebook might not be a good thing.
On top of this, the expanding popularity of Facebook has lead to more prying eyes who are able to view your content. When Facebook first took off, it was the cool thing to do, where teens dominated play.
But now, you’re just as likely to be connected to your parents, even your grandparents on The Social Network, which, in turn, has lead to more people taking their conversations off the main Facebook channels and into direct messaging. This trend is also believed to have been a big driver in the popularity of Snapchat, which is all private and messages are not kept on permanent record.
The evidence of this shift is most prominent among younger users – a recent survey in the US found that direct messaging is the dominant form of communication among teens (and by a big margin).
Because of this change in user behaviour, it makes sense to also enable users to connect with brands via message. But in order to do that, Facebook will need to shift the perception of what messaging is – as noted, people generally see messaging as a way to stay in touch with friends, not connect with businesses. But as time goes on, this is likely to change.
Imagine if you could send a direct message to a store asking them if they have a product you like in stock, in your size – or if they could message you when they do?
The benefit of messaging is that all your information is logged in a message thread, so the store would be able to look up your history with them and answer your query without you having to specify your details and preferences.
And that is where the next level of messaging is focussed.
Facebook recently announced a new Bots for Messenger platform which will enable businesses to create automated bot systems that can respond to customer queries on their behalf. These bots, fuelled by Facebook’s own artificial intelligence engine, will understand common language queries and will be able to refer to previous interaction history to formulate a response.
Such innovation has major potential – using bots, you’d be able to message a pizza store and have them process your regular order without you having to interact with a real person. The store owner just has to process the order, and you only need to message a contact, rather than look up a phone number and wait online.
That’s a basic example, but the introduction of bots could lead to a major shift in how we interact with businesses, and see major cost savings for brands who no longer need staff to respond to every single query.
It’s not going to happen overnight, it’ll take time to come into full effect, but business through Messenger has a lot of advantages – and given that a billion people use the app, there’s clearly a lot of people already communicating via message, that could easily transition into messaging your business as well.
It’ll take time, but it may just be worth investigating and utilizing Messenger for your business now and getting in ahead of the coming trend.