Facebook has announced a number of new updates aimed at making it easier for its Messenger and main app users to find and contact businesses. These updates include a new suite of tools and more cosmetic layout changes — notably, Page usernames — as well as unique links and codes, and customizable greetings.
This update comes at a time of growing concerns from businesses that users won’t be able to find them as other brands and companies join the app and it becomes more saturated. The announcement also comes less than a day after some of Messenger for iPhone users noticed a “suggested businesses” bar under the search function of the Messenger app, as reported by Business Insider.
Here’s a rundown of the new features:
- Businesses with a Facebook Page will be able to set up and edit personalized Messenger Usernames. These usernames, which will appear directly below the company’s name on its Facebook Page, will make it easier for users to search for, and connect with, businesses on both the Messenger app and main site.
- Messenger Links will give businesses a short link based on their Page usernames. That link will open directly in Messenger once it’s clicked on.
- Messenger Codes are unique codes for a business’ Page, which function as QR codes, that businesses can place in ads and on their websites. Users can scan the code in Messenger with their smartphone camera, which will then open up a thread in Messenger. This has been an effective tool for rival chat app, Snapchat.
- Businesses will be able to write a customizable greeting via Messenger Greetings that will appear automatically in a new message thread before the conversation starts. This will allow them to set the tone and impart information they deem important.
Facebook is using these updates to stay relevant and competitive in today’s mobile messaging space. Chat apps, such as Kik, Messenger, and Viber offer businesses an ubiquitous platform to reach a vast number of customers, while keeping conversations personal. Facebook’s Messenger is already a dominant contender in the B2C messaging space; Messengerrecently reported more than 900 million monthly active users, and over 1 billion messages are sent between people and businesses each month.
They also address businesses’ concerns around discoverability on the Messenger platform. As more businesses flock to the platform — like US wireless carrier Sprint, that use Messenger to carry out most customer service queries, according to The Information — Facebook will continue to strive to make its platform as attractive to businesses as it can. But as more companies and brands turn to chat apps as a way to reach consumers, these apps could suffer from the same overcrowded issues that app developers suffer from in smartphone app stores.
The proposed “suggestions” bar is another viable solution to this issue. And it could also serve as another method of monetization for the app. Companies may be able to pay to appear higher up in the Suggested businesses tab in a similar way that brands do on Snapchat Discover section.
Messaging apps as a whole are evolving to become much more than just ways to communicate with friends and family. They are rapidly transforming into full ecosystems complete with marketplaces and more.
Will McKitterick, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on messaging apps that takes a close look at the size of the messaging app market, how these apps are changing, and the types of opportunities for monetization that have emerged from the growing audience that uses messaging services daily.
Messaging App Report CoverBI Intelligence
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Mobile messaging apps are massive. The largest services have hundreds of millions of monthly active users (MAU). Falling data prices, cheaper devices, and improved features are helping propel their growth.
- Messaging apps are about more than messaging. The first stage of the chat app revolution was focused on growth. In the next phase, companies will focus on building out services and monetizing chat apps’ massive user base.
- Popular Asian messaging apps like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE have taken the lead in finding innovative ways to keep users engaged. They’ve also built successful strategies for monetizing their services.
- Media companies, and marketers are still investing more time and resources into social networks like Facebook and Twitter than they are into messaging services. That will change as messaging companies build out their services and provide more avenues for connecting brands, publishers, and advertisers with users.
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