To paraphrase Samuel Gibbs recent article ‘Why is Facebook trying to force you to use its Messenger app?’ Facebook is removing the chat function from the mobile website experience, and channeling users into the Facebook Messenger App. In June last year, Facebook allowed users to sign up to the service using only a mobile number, so they could access Facebook friends without opening an account. That extended the appeal of Messenger even further.
Messenger gained 700 million users, and now has an army of 900 million users worldwide, sending one billion messages every day. If Mark Zuckerberg convinces the 1.09 billion daily Facebook users to download the Messenger app, there’s a new and vast opportunity to explore.
How can brands leverage the astonishing projected reach of Facebook Messenger?
Personalisation And Direct Links
Facebook introduced unique ‘vanity’ Page names and URLs to help users and businesses connect more easily. Soon, all business with have a Messenger username, mirroring the vanity URL and page name with a Twitter-style @ symbol. Designed to improve brand visibility and identity, to make communication between brands and Facebook users more accessible and fluid. Messenger links and codes work in a similar way. The user clicks on a bespoke URL (m.me/username) or photographs a code, which opens a conversation with the brand in Messenger. What’s more, the codes and URLs can also be used in ad campaigns. Clever!
Publishers are experimenting with news sign up services, delivering bulletins and breaking stories via Messenger. Users have to opt-in for the service before the brand can push messages to them. Brands intune with sophisticated big data might use Messenger for instant updates to benefit their customers. For example, an insurance company studying the flooding pattern in the Cumbria, may message a segment of its Facebook demographic and send them timely weather warnings, including a link to their site with preventative measures and product information.
ASOS convinced the world its lightning-quick customer service response algorithms were failing, when its Page fired out nonsensical messages to Facebook users, (the screen grabs are stunning). Brands using their Facebook Page for customer service now have the opportunity to privatise these conversations, rather than spreading the enquiry from a Page to PM, then email or a phone call, handled by multiple customer service staff. Using the @ function, the conversation between the brand and customer is immediate thanks to the ‘seen’ notification, and in theory more casual and personal because the app was designed to maintain Facebook friendships. And of course, you can’t use emojis on a call. The only question is, how do brands show off their excellent customer services skills if the hard work is hidden away?
This option tickles our fancy as a digital agency, and it will probably excite brands too. At the more functional end of the spectrum, a chat bot can function as a virtual PA. For example, a bank could write some code that translates Facebook Messenger queries, into requests for its backend system: “What’s my bank balance?” But in a wider sense, Messenger could become a brand’s Siri, tuning into a user’s personal needs and offering bespoke product-focused solutions. A chatbot could also be used for a more fun marketing campaign. For example, a user scans the brand’s Messenger code and has a live conversation with a celebrity chat bot. The opportunities are endless.