140m+ Businesses Active On Facebook Platform
At the start of 2019, Mark Zuckerberg laid out the future for his vast communications empire, with privacy, and messaging in particular, at its core.
“In a few years, I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network.
We then plan to add more ways to interact privately with your friends, groups, and businesses.
If this evolution is successful, interacting with your friends and family across the Facebook network will become a fundamentally more private experience.”
On the surface, this appeared to be quite a radical change of direction for Facebook, whereas in reality it’s simply the platform realigning with existing user trends.
According to eMarketer, this year, the total number of messaging app users worldwide will increase by 12.1% to 2.52 billion people, before settling around 3 billion users in 2022.
Interestingly, earlier this week, Michelle Klein, vice president of global business and customer marketing at Facebook, estimated that more than 140 million businesses use its family of apps every month to find new customers, hire employees and engage with customers.
However, what percentage of those are proactively marketing on messaging? You could probably count it on one hand.
Messenger's Growing Marketing Focus
For the majority of organisations, messaging is at best a reactive customer surface and at worst, not on their marketing radar whatsoever.
Which, on the other hand, is good news for smart marketers wanting an edge and looking for life beyond the News Feed.
To be fair, up until quite recently, Messenger marketing functionality was a tad basic.
At F8 in May, Facebook announced a host of new business tools for Messenger and thankfully, just in time for the fourth quarter Facebook squeeze, many of these are starting to go live.
The latest release for the Messenger Platform sees improvements for personalisation, community management and integrating with third party apps.
Improved Messenger Tools For Better Customer Interactions
To begin with, Facebook has updated Private Replies, expanding functionality and allowing for richer engagement, via multimedia assets.
Private Replies allows businesses to reply to post comments and visitor posts made on their Page with a single message on Messenger.
Private Replies used to only allow plain text to be sent. With this update, businesses can send images, templates and quick replies as part of messages sent in response to a post or comment on their Page.
In addition, it’s now easier to personalise conversations with customers at the user level on Messenger. With this beta, apps will be able to dynamically change the persistent menu and the visibility of the composer, providing relevant menu options at different points in the customer’s journey (see link for details).
Lastly, Messenger has improved the mobile integration capabilities in Messenger by introducing App Link Support for URL buttons.
Which, in plain English, means that now when people click URL buttons (with the App Link metadata), it will enable developers and businesses to provide a button that will directly open the target native app.
“Deep-linking”, as it’s known, means that from Messenger businesses can take users to an app store to download an app, or take them directly to the web to view content. Allowing developers to provide the best possible experience for their users when linking to their content.
Messenger Ads Integrating With Stories
The most recent platform updates, outlined above, for Messenger, are great for driving better outcomes from user conversations.
But how do you start them in the first place? Outside of the reactive.
As with all things social, there’s simple engagement mechanics which can be leveraged to hopefully increase engagement organically, via Messenger or elsewhere.
However, the most reliable way to do so effectively is via Click-to-Messenger (CTM) ads.
Click-to-Messenger ads are perhaps one of the best kept secrets on the platform, and excellent for driving the right conversations at the right times with users.
If implemented well, Click-to-Messenger campaigns can be one of the highest converting campaign types Facebook.
Last month, to further enhance Messenger marketing activity, Facebook announced an integration with Stories ads (perhaps the cheapest ads on the platform).
The Messenger – Stories cross over means that organisations can now leverage inexpensive Facebook, Instagram and Messenger Stories ad traffic to start conversations on Messenger.
As with existing News Feed Click-to-Messenger campaigns, users swipe up on Stories ads that have the new “Send Message” call to action to start a conversation with the business in Messenger without leaving the app they’re in.
All organisations will have to up their messaging game in due course, the benefits of doing it now are that it’s uncompetitive, cheap and even outside ads has decent-ish organic opportunties.
Just like the main Facebook app did.