It seems a simple chat will no longer just be a simple chat. Facebook have released the hounds on their Messenger App and opened it up to developers, which means animations, gifs, videos and most importantly, a game-changer for marketers.
OK, so Facebook giving greater access to third party developers hardly seems ground-breaking – how often are you bombarded by a Farmville invite? But this will be different. Now there’s potential for marketers to dip into FB’s gargantuan database and host content inside FB’s messenger; in-fact it’s not an app anymore, it’s a platform.
How does it all work?
Let me explain with a few examples. Instead of clicking the share button on a cat video you like, you can now host the content you love on FB messenger. Imagine having a live video Q & A session with the Old Spice ambassador. Better still, think about buying an item online, tracking it, then suddenly changing your mind that you no longer want it. With the shiny new FB Messenger you can just tell the brand directly within the app – the same way you’d have a conversation with a friend.
Soon you’ll be able to send money to your friends too. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look at China’s WeChat. They let its users book taxis, pick cinema seats, look for nearby restaurants and a bunch more.
Mixing friends and business?
Until now Facebook Messenger has been the one place where it’s all about friends and family. The question is, will users be comfortable seeing brands on it? Merging business and personal content into Messenger is certainly an ambitious plan. While China’s WeChat and Japan’s Line have had some success, others like Skype have tried and failed. Only time will tell for Facebook.
Technology correspondent Richard Taylor believes that ‘over time these new personal interactions will give Facebook another source of rich information about a user's interests - and thereby the potential to attract more ad revenue’. And that could open up a whole chapter for The Book.