Who would have thought that messaging apps like Facebook messenger would have become so popular…?
Whatsapp – 1 billion active users
Facebook Messenger – 900 million active users
Viber – 700 million active users.
Mark Zuckerberg forked out $19 billion dollars to buy WhatsApp so he could see the growth that was coming (he bought it when the had about 500 million users but it’s still doubled in size since then).
Facebook holds an annual conference every year called F8. This is where they typically announce lots of great new stuff. And they didn’t disappoint this year.
But let’s focus on Messenger. Where is it now and where is it going?
How do you access Facebook Messenger?
a) Go to Messenger.com and from there you can access all the functionality.
b) If you’re browsing Facebook on your desktop, you can click on the Messages icon on the top of the screen and access the functionality.
c) Separate app on mobile – A couple of years ago, Facebook decided to move the Messenger functionality from the Facebook app to a separate mobile app.
Mark Zuckerberg felt there was a couple of keystrokes too many to access the app within Facebook. You might think that is trivial but, if people were using Messenger dozens of times a day, then it was important enough to have it as a separate app.
What is a Messenger Code / Messenger link?
Snapchat has Snapcodes. It’s an image that identifies you as a user on Snapchat. You copy this image and share it with your friends. Your friends can then take a picture of this image and, through the Snapchat app, it will find and follow this person.
Messenger code is a copy of this.
When you log onto Messenger, go to the settings and you’ll see a Messenger code similar to the following:
You can now share this Messenger code. If a Facebook friend uses a code they can immediately send you a message. If it’s not a Facebook friend, you get a request.
A Messenger link is another way for someone to contact you. You can share your username within a link, for example, your Twitter Bio could have a link to you on Messenger.
We will see these Messenger codes appearing all over the place. For example, you can imagine that brands will start promoting their Messenger codes on their websites, product packaging etc. If you want support, you scan their code and start a conversation.
What are Facebook Chatbots?
Chatbots are an attempt to automate conversations.
Imagine if you were dealing with an airline and you wanted to interact regarding a flight. It’s not that difficult to figure out the the most likely things you will ask e.g.
- Can I get my boarding pass?
- Can I upgrade?
- Can I pick my seat?
- Is my flight on time?
When you type in these types of questions, the chatbot attempts to provide answers or ask other questions to figure out what you really want.
How useful these are depends on the service offered, the programming work that went into the app and the questions asked. The bots are not humans so they’re not going to understand everything you ask!
These chatbots have already launched because Facebook was trying them out with a selection of brands.
To access a list of bots, check out this site – click here.
Here’s an example of some bots:
- CNN – You can ask questions about news and get regular updates posted to you.
- Uber – Hail down taxis within Messenger.
- Poncho – Find out the weather for your location and sign up for weather reports.
- 1-800-Flowers – Order flowers.
Here’s me asking Poncho the weather in San Diego. There was no problem asking the first question but it struggled on the second one!
How will Facebook make money from this?
There’s no doubt that Facebook will have an advertising model for Messenger. Now that brands are getting involved, they will be able to advertise.
Here’s a couple of potential examples:
- Someone has a weather app and asks about the weather in San Diego. That’s useful for restaurants. They may be able to advertise to these people.
- Brands want to initiate conversations with their audience – Their chatbot is meant to respond to conversations but brands may be able to pay to initiate conversations.
I’m sure that, over time, brands will be able to advertise on this channel. I’m not sure yet how this will work. But, for example, if a brand wants to share a link directly to their website, maybe there’ll be a cost for doing this. They can provide the service that users sign up for but, if they want to direct people to their home page, they pay extra.
There’s no doubt that this will be another big revenue stream for Facebook.
Problems with Messenger
The chatbots will be of varying quality so Facebook needs to put controls on these apps in a similar way to how Apple approves any new apps on their App Store.
When you send an email to a brand, you don’t expect an immediate response. If you message them, you’ll want a much quicker response. It’s a conversation so you pretty much want an instant response. This is going to be challenging for brands.
Opportunities with Messenger
There’s going to be a big opportunity for developers to build chatbots that will likely end up on an App store. This could be used as their own products or sold to brands.
The ability to capture and analyze conversations is powerful for advertising.
Facebook Messenger is going to play an increasingly important role in how we communicate online. This platform will become as important as – or maybe even more important than – Facebook itself. Lots of exciting stuff is happening here.
What do you think the future of Messenger is?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock