How Facebook Messenger Works: Is There A Way To Use It For Business Development?
Together with Snapchat and Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger (FBM) is the most widely used social messaging app in the world. In April 2017, Facebook Messenger could boast 1.2 billion active monthly users, a sharp increase from 900 billion monthly users in April 2016, 600 billion users in March 2015 and ‘only’ 200 billion monthly users in April 20141. An application that can increase its number of monthly users by one thousand million in only three years is clearly on an upward trajectory. No wonder that businesses are asking themselves whether Facebook Messenger holds any marketing potential.
The simple answer to this is yes. It is the responsibility of marketers to engage in customer conversations wherever they are taking place. Clearly a lot of people are using Facebook Messenger, including for business-related communications, so it would be short-sighted for businesses not to get involved. As marketers we follow trends as often as we try and set them. That doesn’t mean that some channels are not better set up for marketing than others, however.
This article simply examines how Facebook messenger works and its current business development potential (May 2017). This is very likely to change over the next 12 months, so keep an eye on the trends and watch this space.
‘Vanilla’ Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger allows users to send a direct electronic message to any other FBM user, whether an individual or organisation. Its UI is very similar to other instant messaging services, such as Microsoft Messenger (remember that?) or its direct competitor Whatsapp. Unlike Snapchat, Facebook messages are retained permanently, giving it some similarities to SMS. You can use FBM to send text messages, image messages, videos or URL links.
FBM can be accessed through Facebook on an Internet browser, or as a separate app that can be installed on an iOS or Android smartphone. The smartphone apps allow users to access FBM independently of Facebook, where it is simply called ‘Messenger’.
As a business, prospects can use FBM to send you direct messages through your company Facebook page. This makes it an extremely important customer service and marketing tool, in the sense that it allows you to respond directly to customer queries in real-time. If you engage in social media marketing, you may find that as your profile grows you get an increasing number of inbound queries through Facebook. These should be treated as leads and responded to accordingly.
FBM also allows you (in principle at least) to send a direct message to any other Facebook user, including the people and businesses who like your Facebook page, and ‘cold’ messages to other users. This doesn’t mean, however, that we recommend you immediately use FBM to reach out to your Facebook followers. We don’t believe this will be an effective strategy.
However, as of November 2016, Facebook has provided a means for businesses to directly reach out to prospects on FBM through Facebook Messenger Ads. Here’s how they work.
Facebook Messenger Ads
There are two types of FBM advert, both of which are easy to set up and can be managed in the Ads Manager or Power Editor:
1) Destination Ads: These appear like a normal Facebook Ad in a user’s newsfeed, with text accompanied by an image or video. However, when a user clicks on the advert an interactive box opens up in Messenger. This gives the user the option to interact with a chatbot to ask questions, access landing pages, or even make purchase transactions.
2) Sponsored Messages: These appear directly in a person’s FBM inbox and have exactly the same appearance as a message you’d receive from a friend. Your use of media is limited to text, a link and a simple image.
FBM adverts can be targeted in the same way as other Facebook Ads, using a huge range of demographic, locational and occupational metrics.
Getting your Approaches Right On Facebook Messenger
To conclude, Facebook Messenger is an extremely useful communication tool and it does have potential for business development. However, it is unlikely to be effective as a blunt sales tool. Don’t assume that because a person likes your Facebook page, that it is okay to send them personal messages as if they were email subscribers. This could be viewed as spam. This doesn’t mean that prospects are not going to be amenable to Facebook Messenger communication. As we have seen, Facebook Messenger Ads are proving to be extremely popular. It just means that communication needs to take place within the context of an established relationship, and must provide something of value to the prospect.
Of course, Facebook Messenger is also a valuable source of inbound leads, as many people use the service to pose questions about your business after having discovered your company page on Facebook. These communications can frequently turn into leads, and subsequently into customers.
Get in touch with one of our marketing specialists to find out more about Facebook Messenger and how to use social media to generate new leads for your business.