Facebook is putting a lot of time and resources into Messenger, banking on ecommerce businesses doing the same. The plan is for Messenger to become a one-stop-customer-relations-and-commerce tool, allowing brands to streamline communications and the purchase process. Over the last year, Facebook has added tons of features and functionality to this end. But does it really make sense for your business to rely solely on Messenger for customer relations?
Let’s explore some of the new features and functionality to better understand how it might benefit your business.
Better with Bots
Facebook introduced chatbots in Q2 this year, and already developers have created more than 11,000 chatbots. Chatbots are artificial intelligence systems that read and understand messages, and then create a relevant response. They allow customers to interact with a brand without having to call, email or use live chat on their website. That interaction could be asking questions, receiving order status updates or placing orders with one-click using payment information stored within Messenger.
Chatbots can save tons of time by automating the process, while still creating a personalized experience for your customers. However, they require a good deal of time and resources to develop, which may not make sense for your business.
Conversation + Commerce
Some ecommerce platforms, like Shopify Plus, allow you to communicate with customers and sell products directly in Messenger. Customers can browse products, ask questions, receive order details and shipping updates, and make purchases all from within Messenger, but you’re able to manage from within your Shopify interface.
One Inbox to Rule Them All
The most recent announcement about Messenger is that interactions on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram will all be aggregated in the new Pages Manager app, scheduled to launch in December.
From this one inbox, you can respond directly to messages, comments, reviews and posts across all three platform. You can also access historical interactions for every user, allowing you to better understand context and craft more personalized messages.
To get the consolidated inbox, you simply need to connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts from within the Pages Manager app. Once it rolls out (“in the coming weeks”) you will automatically have access.
Ads, Ads Everywhere
After testing with a select group of advertisers since April, Facebook started rolling out Messenger ads to everyone at the beginning of November. You can now re-engage customers by sending updates about products, sales notifications or other alerts. These sponsored messages, however, can only be sent to users that have previously interacted with your brand in Messenger.
You might be thinking, “But I haven’t chatted with any customers yet. What use are Sponsored Messages then?” Not to worry, Facebook has a solution. You can now run newsfeed ads that send users to a new chat window in Messenger. This not only helps you start new conversations, but allows you to build your list of folks that you can re-engage with Sponsored Messages.
Little Links Save Time
In April of this year, Facebook created usernames for Pages, which can help people find and messages businesses more easily. It’s a familiar concept found on Twitter, Instagram and other social networks--type in an @ symbol and the Page name. These usernames can then be used to create short Messenger Links that (m.me/username), when clicked, open a conversation within Messenger.
A Warm Welcome
As of April, you can create a customized Messenger Greeting for customers that will appear in new threads. Use this note to welcome customers, create a friendly tone, and set expectations for response time and types of messages.
With all of the new integrations, features and functionalities, Facebook is certainly making a strong case for why they should be your one-stop communication tool. Strong enough to abandon all other methods and tools though?
I wouldn’t go that far just yet. To truly find efficiencies with bots you need the resources to develop them. And to you still need to budget in ads and sponsored messages to increase reach and re-engage users, something you could do at lower or no cost through email campaigns. And even though Facebook has nearly 1.8 billion users, that doesn’t mean they’re using Messenger or are even ready for it to be the main communication method.
Don’t use Facebook Messenger as your sole customer relations software. Rather, use it as another tool in your kit, and way to create a more personalized connection with those users that prefer Messenger.