Facebook Ramps Up Messaging Features for Instagram
At the start of 2019, Mark Zuckerberg laid out the future for his Facebook empire, with messaging at its core, and the entire family of apps acting interoperably, as one.
Following a sweeping product release in recent days, that roadmap has taken a sizeable leap forward, with Facebook's merger of Instagram DMs and Facebook Messenger.
More than 100 billion messages are sent across Facebook's army of applications every day, and this latest move is an attempt to consolidate that and protect the Zuckerberg eco-system. It's also designed to create a product that takes the best part of Messenger and bring that to Insta.
Social Shifts Behind The Messaging Curtain
When Facebook launched, we saw an orgy of wall posting and status updates. Now social media users are retreating into secluded spaces and having more private conversations; more than one billion people use Messenger to communicate.
However, the plethora of different messaging options makes it challenging to keep track of some conversations. Between Insta, Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat there are more ways to get in touch with your nearest and dearest than you can shake a stick at.
According to Facebook's research, a third of people have trouble remembering which platform a conversation was carried out on. This update will seek to change that for the better and encourage a new wave of people to stick to these two channels.
The update will even attempt to steal a march on one of Snap's key selling points, but more on that later.
"More than a billion people already use Messenger as a place to share, hang out and express themselves with family and friends.
That's why we're connecting the Messenger and Instagram experience to bring some of the best Messenger features to Instagram, so you have access to the best messaging experience, no matter which app you use."
People using Messenger can now contact you on Instagram without them having to download the app. At the same time, those on Insta will be able to reach people who have Messenger without actually going on Messenger.
Nice Idea, But What's The Point?
Facebook's motivations might sit along the lines of trying to preserve and cocoon users inside the "internet within an internet" to the extent that they feel like it's too much hassle to try and burst the bubble.
The new “Vanish mode” will also look to take a slice of the pie away from Snapchat as it lets users decide if their messages will delete after they've been viewed, which was one of the prime features of Snap.
Unsurprisingly, there's been some backlash along these grounds.
"The initial announcement was widely criticised as a perceived attempt to proactively protect Facebook from antitrust enforcement that could have forced to spin off WhatsApp or Instagram into separate companies."
This might be one to keep an eye on for the future, especially around the proposed integration of WhatsApp with these new features.
Users will get the chance to opt-in to these new changes, and Facebook is hoping the new range of updates and changes will entice users to do so. The updates have brought some criticism, but it'll also make it easier for a global audience to stay in touch.
What Are ALL The New Features?
There's a lot; more than 10. Some of them are really interesting, and fix serious problems within Instagram DMs and bring the best bits across from Messenger.
You'll now be able to reply to a specific message and forward messages within Instagram and will be able to customise chats with different colours and themes. Nice moves, specifically the ability to reply and forward messages – which has been quite a disadvantage of using Instagram DMs vs WhatsApp or Messenger.
People will now be able to watch videos together during a video call, whether that's Reels, IGTV, movies or TV shows. That opens up a whole world of options for the savvy marketer or comms guru.
As per the announcement, here's the full list of updates:
- Communicate Across Apps: Seamlessly connect with friends and family across Instagram and Messenger by using either app to send messages and join video calls.
- Watch Together: Enjoy watching videos on Facebook Watch, IGTV, Reels (coming soon!), TV shows, movies, and more with friends and family during a video call.
- Vanish Mode: Choose a mode where seen messages disappear after they're seen or when you close the chat.
- Selfie Stickers: Create a series of boomerang stickers with your selfie to use in conversation.
- Chat Colors: Personalise your chats with fun colour gradients.
- Custom Emoji Reactions: Create a shortcut of your favourite emojis to react quickly to messages from friends.
- Forwarding: Easily share great content with up to five friends or groups.
- Replies: Respond directly to a specific message in your chat and keep the conversation flowing.
- Animated Message Effects: Add visual flair to your message with animated send effects.
- Message Controls: Decide who can message you directly, and who can't message you at all.
- Enhanced Reporting and Blocking Updates: Now you can report full conversations in addition to single messages on Instagram, and receive proactive blocking suggestions across Instagram and Messenger when you add your accounts in the new Accounts Center.
Facebook hasn't given us an exact date for the changes to go live, but they should start trickling out in dribs and drabs over the coming months.