Why Facebook Messenger is the most important tool for online marketing

Messenger is evolving into a full blown content platform… and taking on your phone number

There was a time when asking for a phone number meant something.

It took some courage, it established hope, it was a test of sorts… Would we get a fake? Would the other person answer when we called? Exchanging phone numbers could be the beginning of a fruitful relationship, or of a harassment nightmare. Once people obtained ours, we had no control.

Now Facebook proposes to change everything.

The premise: It´s easier to know a person´s name than their phone number. So why go through the trouble of asking? Not only is that uncomfortable, but using the name as a reference is a more effective way of getting in touch.

So this is what´s going to change:

Up until now, we could only receive and send messages from Facebook “friends”. If a person was not your “friend”, their message used to go to another inbox, actually called “Other inbox”. Few people knew about this place and it wasn’t accessible from Messenger’s iOS or Android apps . It was where messages, both trivial and urgent, went to die.

Sensing the user demand for a more fluid way of connecting, Facebook is now introducing the possibility of sending messages to Facebook users who are NOT our friends. Those messages will go to the same inbox as the rest of them, and be called “Message Requests”. By accepting the “Message Request”, we can start texting back and forth, without the need of ever becoming “friends”. We also have the choice of ignoring the message or deleting the request, and thus, have more control over who is able to contact us or not.

This is no small thing. Given the sheer number of Facebook users around the world, it entails a tectonic shift in the way we humans communicate, and it opens up new ways for marketers to engage potential customers. Moreover, it´s the first step in the transformation of messaging systems into holistic platforms.

In March this year, Facebook announced its new Messenger Platform, which will allow users to create and share content, using third party tools, and “messenger companion apps”. They will be accessed as easily as we now do with the photos and sticker add-ons for our chats. Initial partners include ESPN, JibJab and Giphy. An interesting feature for us in marketing, is that users will be able to communicate directly with businesses. As with the “Messenger Request”, these options are rolling out gradually.

Facebook has also announced it is testing a new digital assistance service called M.

This personal assistant “lives” within Messenger and can help us with daily chores, such as finding a doctor’s appointment, booking trips, buying presents, ordering food and making dinner reservations.

The evolution of Facebook Messenger is a game-changer for us online marketing experts, for it signifies new and exciting ways to share content and engage new customers.

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