By: Colleen Flynn & Meghan Gulbrandsen
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication. It is most commonly known as an extension of the popular social media platform of Facebook. Facebook made the transition to having a complete separate Messaging app because they are “committed to providing a fast, reliable, and fun messaging app that anyone in the world can actively use to get in touch with those that matter most to them.” Facebook reports that people usually reply 20% faster when they have his Messenger (“Messenger-Business”) app. The company is moving in directions that are in conjunction with our fast-paced world and culture. Although thought of as just a strictly messaging app from Facebook, users may be surprised by the many different aspects and features that make Facebook Messenger its own very unique platform. Facebook Messenger keeps proving itself to be innovative and a savvy overall app despite controversies and criticism it has faced.
First and foremost, in order to use Facebook Messenger, a user must have a Facebook account. You cannot enable messaging on this app if you do not already have a Facebook account or profile. Once set-up, users can now message your Facebook friends. In addition, users can connect to other Facebook users who may not be your normal Facebook “friends” through each other’s phone numbers as long as they have Facebook Messenger downloaded as well (Get the Facts About Messenger). The app itself is rated 4+ on iTunes and is very user friendly.
The messenger app goes much farther than just simple text conversations between two people. There are, in fact, many features that every day users may not even be aware of. Included in the app: anyone can take pictures or video instantly with the built-in-camera (without actually leaving the app itself); image search shares pictures from the web (again, not having to leave the app and open a new page); use the location feature to quickly show where you are (for any particular message and all the other person has to do is “view map”); send quick audio notes and eliminate voicemail; free calls to any Facebook friend on your iPhone; use pinned group chats to find mass messages easier (group chats are in their own tab and are not lost in the other regular chats). Also, adding your debit card to the messenger app allows you to send and receive money securely and easily to and from other users (The Best Features of Facebook Messenger You’re Probably Not Using). Another nice feature of the messaging app is the read receipts for texts. The sender will know exactly when the message has been delivered as well as viewed. This allows no room for guessing or miscommunication (“Messenger – Features”). All these features make the app very accessible and user friendly. It becomes a one stop shop for many users because they never have to leave the app to access some of the most important and commonly used cellular features in our everyday lives.
Despite the many features, Facebook Messenger had many critics that were very skeptical and annoyed when Facebook made the decision to make the separate Messenger app mandatory to download. There was controversy with privacy and intrusive ads, as well app’s use of a phone’s camera and microphone. The honest truth of all this however, is that people still use the app. About 1.32 billion, to be exact, are on Facebook and message one another. (Is Facebook Messenger Safe For Kids). So whether or not someone thinks the separate Messaging app is necessary or not, users probably end up still using it anyway, making the app relevant and always in high usage. It is still a pretty good app regardless of the critics. Many users actually have no idea about the capabilities the app contains and the features listed above. The company must then be clear about its objectives and what the company stands for to fight off these critics and bad reactions.
Facebook Messenger’s objective is, “to reinvent the way people communicate and interact with businesses,” according to Marketing Land. Facebook wants to make Messenger a place where people can go for customer service and live chat channels for all kinds of businesses. If the customer is having issues or negative thoughts about the company, Messenger allows an interaction between strictly the customer and company to solve the problem of customer service issues. This proves to be very beneficial for the company rather than a public platform that could have more of a possibility of going viral. It is also beneficial for the customer by getting direct contact with the company.
As of right now, all of the focus on Facebook Messenger is on enterprises. Initially, the whole purpose and idea that the company was trying to reach, is to eliminate the use of emails. For many businesses, using email is a very common way that people can get in touch with their company. By introducing Messenger to the world, users now can have real-time business-customer interactions. Customers of companies can comment directly with the enterprise or merchant, to reach out to discuss what they think about a specific product. This is both very beneficial for the company and for the customer. The company can easily receive positive and negative feedback (ties in with customer service) which allows the company to make changes, as needed, to better itself. Also, the customer can get a sense of a personal relationship and the feeling that their opinion is being heard. Although it is completely up to individual businesses if they prefer having an automotive communication service versus this live chat, Facebook Messenger stresses that they prefer human customer service over chat bots.
With technology on the rise and the many features offered, businesses are making more moves towards using Facebook Messenger as a means to connect with their customers. When customers check out a company’s website, there is a movement in which companies offer the option of also inviting the customer to sign up and connect with the company on Messenger. This way, the company will be able to send them personalized updates. This is another nice aspect for companies to make their relationships with customers more private and more personal. All customers want is to feel important and that they matter to companies, which is exactly what Messenger aims to accomplish. On Messenger, companies can now send rich, detailed messages their customers will appreciate. They can use custom layouts designed for order confirmation along with shipping updates. The Facebook Messenger app allows customers to keep all their order information in one place from start to finish. In addition, if the customer needs to change something or needs to be in contact with the company, all they have to do is simply message them (“Messenger – Business.”). Businesses are thus looking much further into this platform for business and marketing and the closeness it can offer between them and their customers.
Marketers can use Facebook Messenger for many different activities as well. Customer service is a large activity that Messenger is primarily used for. Again, this allows companies to keep the conversation contained between the customer and company as opposed to a more public platform for customer service. In addition, marketers use Facebook Messenger for research purposes in order to learn more about their consumers. They can build their brand through Facebook Messenger through their existing customers and contacts. Facebook Messenger is a community that can be tapped into and expanded. Also, promotion can be highly implemented for marketers who can send promotional messages to their users individually. Finally, Facebook Messenger provides real time actions, proving a company is engaged and aware of the connection they are making with a customer. Marketers along with the customer and general users are provided with many activities they can engage in on Facebook Messenger.
Even though there is a push for businesses and marketers to use Facebook Messenger, the overall culture of Facebook Messenger stretches across the board. It can vary for many different usages for each individual. There is a broad spectrum of what users do on their messenger app. Some people strictly use Facebook Messenger as a social platform between friends, while others it is used more professionally in a business setting, or both. The community/communities in which you interact with and form on Facebook Messenger are your own personal preference.
Facebook Messenger has been in the process of launching many new ideas and concepts for the future as it becomes more innovative. For example, in August of 2015, Facebook Messenger launched “M,” which is their own personal response to Apple’s Siri, Android’s Google Now, and Window’s Cortana. It is a virtual assistant that can be accessed in the app when sending Messages back and forth between users. The launch is in its beginning round of a limited trial, but the company plans to improve it through machine learning in the future. For now, “M” answers questions and focuses on making local recommendations and suggested purchases, such as reservations, setting appointments and completing other admin tasks (Facebook Launches M, Messenger’s Answer to Siri – Mobile Marketing).
In terms of earned, owned, and paid media opportunities that exist in the app, Facebook is finally getting on board with putting ads directly into Facebook Messenger. In the second quarter of this year, Facebook is allowing brands to send ads directly to users only if they have previously communicated with them through Facebook Messenger. This will certainly be an area that can be leveraged for the future as more and more companies get active on Facebook Messenger. Companies can leverage this to send certain ads to individual users in which they know the customer will be interested based on prior knowledge about that specific customer. It is unclear at this point whether ads will have a price for the company, but as of right now, the app itself is free to use.
On the flipside, marketers are faced with some risks using Facebook Messenger. There are already many controversies on the privacy of the app. There was a large controversy with the concept of the access of someone’s camera and microphone. Many thought Facebook Messenger could hear and see all that they were doing, all the time. This includes rumors that Messenger could listen in on marketers who may be talking business about a customer and some strategies and tactics. Fortunately, the company corrected this scandal stating the app needs permission to access a user’s’ camera and microphone through “settings” on a user’s phone and are not accessible unless a user is active on the app (Get the Facts About Messenger). If the app is not being used, the access to camera and microphones are not available. In addition, making sure your individual address book isn’t synced with the app is important if users want additional privacy. Being aware of the facts regarding privacy will make users more comfortable with the app.
All and all, the Facebook Messenger app is powerful, but very user friendly. It can be used by many different people at any age and for many different purposes. The app is making great strides for the future and will continue to grow and develop.
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