Facebook: Changes Are Coming To Messenger, Too
“We’re setting our sights on 2018 to make Messenger the best way to spend time together when you’re apart, or to make plans to spend more time together in the real world.”
On the heels of a major announcement involving plans to overhaul the News Feed—friends and family posts will be prioritized above publishers—Facebook’s Messenger will also see some changes in the months ahead.
The company’s head of Messenger, David Marcus, explains in a blog post that his team has been at work identifying which features enhance the app’s experience for users and which cause clutter. So, what’s next? Per Marcus, it’s time to “massively simplify” and “streamline.”
As noted by The Verge, Messenger has amassed roughly 1.3 billion monthly users in just four years of existence. Despite the popularity, the app has become inundated with an array of additions, including peer-to-peer payments, automated bots, a bot Discover tab, gaming, ephemeral stories, AR features, and, yes, ads.
Here’s a quick recap of how Messenger is likely to change in the coming year:
Emphasis on real-time communications
In a recent post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took responsibility for what was arguably a rough year for the company in terms of public perception. He cited errors in enforcing important policies and misuse of tools as key issues moving forward and identified solutions to solve them. Moreover, he noted that “the world feels anxious and divided” and affirmed his belief that Facebook can do more to ensure “that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”
To address these sentiments and more effectively tie Messenger into Facebook’s overall mission of building “meaningful” communities, the company will be investing more heavily in real-time communications. Whether in the form of facilitating chats, or enabling people to instantly broadcast their status in the event of an emergency or natural disaster, Facebook is demonstrating a clear commitment to connecting users during important moments.
Enhanced group chats
There’s an irony in the way that social media has evolved from a way for people to connect to a very real driver of isolation and division. To help reverse the trend, Facebook is hoping to add more group chat updates to fuel more interactions amongst its users.
“Messenger group chats already have lots of features like the ability to react to an individual message, the option to mention someone, add and remove people seamlessly, customization tools—but we have more in store for you this year,” claims Marcus.
Visual messaging has become notably ubiquitous as of late, with enhancements like emojis, Bitmojis, and GIFs adding new dimensions to the ways in which people communicate. Per Marcus, Facebook facilitating 17 billion video chats (2x the number from 2016) in 2017, as well as 500 billion emojis, and 18 billion GIFs.
Given this trend, Facebook is looking to ramp up efforts and keep pace with the evolution of visual messaging—although, for the moment, the details remain vague.
New & improved customer service features
According to new Nielsen research commissioned by Facebook, 56 percent of people would rather message a business than call customer service, and 67 percent expect to message businesses even more over the next two years. These numbers support the fact that people are hungry for instantaneous and convenient pathways to directly connecting with companies.
In order to cater to this, Marcus reports that Facebook will “evolve Messenger as a true customer care channel in 2018.” He continued by asserting that this investment will benefit the growth of businesses within the platform and help free up time for customer care professionals to tackle more productive aims.
More marketing opportunities
With insight from a growing number of marketers, a focus of Facebook’s this year will be to ensure that more marketers, particularly those who have yet to offer consumers a messaging outlet, have the platform and tools they need to build a successful presence. Why? Because in terms of general strategy, message marketing has become a critical tactic for brands.
“Look for investment in rich messaging experiences not only from global brands but small businesses who need to be creative and nimble to stay competitive,” says Marcus.
Another feature swirling in the rumor mill? The ability to privately comment on a Facebook post. See the screenshot of a test shared by Matt Navarra, Social Media Director for The Next Web.
I wonder how many Facebook users will use this new feature when it gets rolled out…
…AND how it will impact recent News Feed changes pic.twitter.com/BbijYAmzq4
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) January 15, 2018
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