Last month The New York Times received leaked information from four Facebook employees that the platform is moving to integrate its three messaging platforms – Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
They revealed that each will still operate as standalone services but that they would be powered by just one infrastructure.
This move will see three of the world’s largest messaging networks brought together, along with their combined user base of 2.6bn people, over a third of the world’s population.
Work is already underway and likely to be completed during 2020.
This move is significant as Instagram and WhatsApp had previously operated largely as independent companies from Facebook. The founders of Instagram and WhatsApp left the company last year, partly due to this. Zuckerberg is exerting control over his acquisitions.
😉 Benefits to users
The most obvious benefit to users is ease of use. Integrating the back end systems will enable people to message each other across the different apps. For example, if you were interested in buying an item from Facebook’s Marketplace, you’d be able to talk to the seller via WhatsApp even if they are only on the Instagram messenger.
Facebook’s stated aim with this move is to make messaging more ‘Simple, reliable and private’.
Part of this work is to ensure that all their messaging products are encrypted end-to-end, meaning users can send private messages.
Benefits to Facebook
This move will help streamline Facebook’s ability to deploy new features across the three apps. It’ll allow a simpler roll out of new features, and potentially a more consistent experience for users.
Bringing these three messaging apps closer together will allow Facebook to complete with Google’s Messaging services and Apple’s iMessage.
Facebook can now also rival WeChat which is used across China, and has 1.06bn monthly active users.
Also it will pool the data captured across different platforms, helping Facebook to build its advertising platform.
📈 Benefits to businesses
Cross platform messaging will help businesses on one platform market to people on another. It reduces the need (and overhead) of operating multiple accounts.
It’s also likely that businesses will be able to market to / message users on all three services via one chat marketing platform.
This move will make it simpler to reach a wider demographic, and a global audience. WhatsApp’s largest user bases are in Asia, South America and Europe. While Facebook Messenger is bigger in the US and Australia.
- WhatsApp – 1.5bn users – mainly South Africa, UK, South Asia, South America
- Facebook Messenger 1.3bn – US, Oz
- WeChat – 1bn
- Viber – Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia
- LINE – 203m users (Japan and Taiwan)
- Telegram 200m Iran, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia
- IMO – Turkmenistan
Instagram Direct is quoted as having 375m monthly active users in April 2017. This is also not an insignificant number.
This move may also prompt regulators to look again at Facebook’s data handling practises.
Conversational User Interfaces for business
Chat systems are useful for answering individual queries relating to things like sales, customer service, complaints or FAQs.
53% of people said they’re more likely to buy from a brand that they can chat with.
56% people would rather message than call customer service
This integration will open up more advertising opportunities in the shape of chatbots.
Chatbots are big and growing… they could present one of the biggest opportunities for marketers over the next few years. As more sophisticated systems hit the market, and you don’t need a degree in computer programming to build a business chatbot, more and more businesses are starting to use them.
Also, combine a conversational/voice activated user interface and artificial intelligence and this can enable a more responsive customer service. Chat is a modern alternative to email which is showing declining engagement.
Messages sent through social media have a far higher open rate (60%-80% vs 10-20% for email) and 4x to 10x higher click through rate.
What should I do next?
Start experimenting and incorporating chat into your marketing or customer service mix.
Things to try…
👍 Build a popup for your website – we used https://small.chat ours links through to our Slack channel during business hours and one of the team can pick up the query quickly.
👍 Facebook Pages – turn on messaging for your Facebook page and set a few automated responses. Find out how.