Will Facebook’s New Social Inbox Get Businesses Using Personal Profiles More?

Zuckerberg: "This is Not an Email Killer"

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Facebook made its big "email" announcement, and yes, you will be able to get an @facebook.com email address." It’s not all about email, however, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained. It’s about "seamless" integration across email, IM, SMS, and all these ways of communication. 

Will use Facebook’s new messaging system? Do you want a Facebook email address? Let us know.

Note: This article has been updated with further commentary.

It’s also about "conversation history", meaning you can keep a running dialogue with everybody you communicate with in a continuous thread for each person or each group of people. 

"Five years from now, you’re just going to have this full, rich history," Zuckerberg says of the conversation history feature. Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth compared it to having a box full of letters between boyfriend and girlfriend from the beginning of the relationship to the present. 

Users do have the ability to delete conversations.

Finally, it’s also about a "social inbox", which is where message prioritization comes in. Facebook will use the information it knows about who your friends are (based on the user’s friends list and their friends’ friends list) to prioritize the messages it thinks you’ll be really interested in. 

Facebook Reveals Social Inbox

The concept is not so much about spam filtering, but actually filtering for the messages from the people who you really care about. "There are a lot of different classes of junk," says Zuckerberg, suggesting that there are a lot of legitimate messages that you don’t actually care what they are saying. 

It will place priority on friends and friends’ friends. There will then be another folder that will have stuff like bills, pages liked, etc. It’s not spam, but not stuff you care about as much as the friends’ messages (although, I’d suggest bills might deserve higher priority than some of the stuff your friends [or especially friends of friends] are saying). Then there’s the junk folder for spam. 

Social Inbox Folders

Is Facebook’s New System a Danger to Email? 

"This is not an email killer. This is a messaging system that includes email as one part of it."

Mark Zuckerberg Announces Social Inbox"We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘Ok, I’m going to shut down my Yahoo Mail account or my Gmail account," Zuckerberg said. He later added that maybe one day people will start to say that email isn’t as important as it was before, thought it "will always be a part."

"I think Gmail’s a really good product," he also noted during a Q&A session, responding to a lot of the press painting the announcement as a "Gmail killer."

"Relatively soon, we’ll probably all stop using arbitrary ten digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other," adds Joel Seligstein on the Facebook blog. "We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly. We aren’t there yet, but the changes today are a small first step."

Admittedly, there is something attractive about that concept, and lots of users are bound to agree. Still, the system faces an enormous hurdle – trust. Facebook doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to privacy and user data, but that hasn’t stopped users from continuing to share massive amounts of information with the service, so that may not be as big a hurdle as it would seem. 

More details on Facebook’s announcements here.  The company also sent us this information sheet:

New Messages

Will This Cause Businesses to Utilize Personal Profiles More?

I wrote an article recently, discussing what implications a Facebook email service could potentially have on marketing. That was before the product was launched and we really knew all the details. My first impressions of this announcement tell me that this is going to be both good and bad for marketers, if it gains widespread adoption. 

For one, it’s bringing all these different communications into a central place – Facebook – and that is a place where people are spending a great deal of their time already, and it has push notifications on mobile, so users will be alerted all the time. On the other hand, it sounds like business messages will be pushed out of priority’s way in favor of actual friend dialogue. The frequency at which people would use the "other inbox" would come down to an individual-by-individual basis.

It will be interesting to see if more businesses start utilizing personal profiles in addition to their business pages in order to get into users’ prioritized inboxes. Your personal interactions would theoretically make the cut. This could actually help brands humanize themselves and use social media the way it was intended – for conversations. Brands will face the obstacle of of actually getting customers to accept their friend requests (and quite frankly, I hope this doesn’t translate into friend request spam, though I can see that happening), but it will force authenticity and actual relationships. 

Meanwhile, the secondary inbox will still contain all of your email marketing messages, and while this may not be checked as frequently as the prioritized one, it will still be checked. Remember, these are opt-in emails coming to the secondary inbox. It’s email that users want (assuming the spam filter works well). In some cases it’s email they need. If bills are going there, people are not going to ignore this inbox. In fact, Facebook says it expects people to check that box at least once a day. 

The new features will be available on an invitation-only basis at first (not unlike the way Gmail started). The @facebook.com addresses are supposed to correspond with your Facebook user name. At this point, it’s unclear how this will work for people who have the same name. 

So, what do you think of the announcements? Share your thoughts here

Will Facebook’s New Social Inbox Get Businesses Using Personal Profiles More?
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  • http://www.ultimatetoronto.com Toronto

    By invitation only = we’ll never actually see it till next year. Too early for hype.

    • Chris Crum

      Yeah, they said it would be available to everyone over the next few months.

  • http://www.afronew24.com Vezu

    Im writing an article and i have a small question. How will this affect their advertising revenue, I mean if i can reply my facebook friends from my email, then how will they make money from advertising since i don’t have to visit facebook?


    • Chris Crum

      I don’t see ads when I check my Facebook inbox anyway.

  • http://www.centauria.com/ Web Developer

    Anyways, brilliant move by Facebook, and, yes, they will get more data about us. No one needs another email account, but everyone needs to secure Your Name @ Facebook Email Address. Get invited at http://www.facebook.com/about/messages/

  • Jonathan

    Like a lot have said before, just another way for facebook to get more personal info. When will the masses realise this and commit Facebook suicide. Quite frankly, I dont care what people I never see do

  • Jonathanb

    Just another way to get more info from us. The worst part is that facebook, google etc try to think for us “to prioritize the messages it thinks you’ll be really interested in. ” Dont presume to know what I will be interested in. This is just trying to turn everyone into mindless dummies. Just now facebook, google etc will be trying to tell us what we want to eat.

    Come on now, the masses need to wake up before it is to late. Commit facebook suicide before it is to late.

  • Guest

    No way, no how. Facebook already is unscrupulous with a gestapo type mentality. They went on a rampage about a month and half ago and was disabling people left and right. They even disabled some nonprofit groups. I discussed it in a message to a group of my facebook friends via facebook. I included the nonprofits they had disabled and facebook contact information. Within under 5 minutes of me hitting send, my account was disabled.

  • http://www.techdex.net Dexter Nelson

    It was only a matter of time until they did it. I predicted it almost 8 months ago. Even though Myspace has focussed on entertainment instead of social media connections, once Myspace added @myspace email it was only a matter of time until Facebook did it.

    I don’t think it will make much of a difference though as a very large portion of Facebook accounts were created with @gmail.com addresses.

    Of course, it’s only now a matter of time until you see internet marketers pop out with the “why you need to get a Facebook email and drop Google” hype starts up.

    • Chris Crum

      I can’t imagine why marketers would say to drop Google, even if they condoned a Facebook account. Don’t forget that gmail account means having a Google profile in many different products, and the “social layer” Google continues to add to its products.

      It isn’t surprising that Facebook launched its own email though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them launch a browser at some point, though they have not given any indication (to my knowledge) that they will do so, but it would make sense in some ways. They might not even need that though, since they are getting integrated with the entire web anyway.

  • http://www.ake.quik.co.nz/~robinhar/ R.Harger

    Yes I will use it, no-one is forced to use it so what is all the fuss about dissolving information barriers about? Just do not use it if that appears to be a problem.

    Governments spend billions$ auto-trawling up all forms of electronic information, spy-cam data on and on ad infinitum. You want to talk freely on the telephone, via fax, whatever? Lots of luck with that unless it is encrypted in some way and by prior arrangement. Facebook will get direct possession of the data? Yes of course, govern yourself accordingly. Everything now thought of will be recorded? Get used to it, it was ever thus and delusion alone gave/gives the the false sense of isolation and individuality. So one sense of the separate nature of self is being eroded…..

    Young folk use Facebook as a chatter-device in order to better understand themselves. Old folk use Facebook to rediscover the ghosts of their past and likewise to better understand themselves. Commercial operations use Facebook information to target sales – good – it can save time in figuring out exactly how one wants to spend one’s disposable income.

    Take the time thus freed-up, smell the flowers, ask yourself “why am I here?” and do something to save the planet from further environmental degradation.

    Think about it and tell your friends of your conclusions and mention how you arrived thereat. Get into it, join the global environmental consciousness raising exercise. You have nothing to loose except your children’s future (much less your own). Get into both Facebook and G-Mail plus Yahoo Mail etc, why not? Reach out to all of humankind. Never before in the history of Humanity has such a fabulous opportunity existed.

    Read more here.

    Robin Harger

  • http://www.officialfnradio.com OFNR

    I’ll never forget what I heard at an SEO conference I went to maybe a year ago “E-mail is for Old people” so who really cares if this is an email “killer?”

  • http://www.pushbikewear.com steve

    Yes, I will certainly use it.
    It seems a logical next step.

    • Chris Crum

      I think that while a lot of people will be concerned about privacy, many will have that same mentality. I’m betting that a good portion of those with the concerns will end up using it anyway.

  • http://www.travelbloggersguide.com Travel Blogger

    I will get just to reserve my name, but I more than likely not use it. I already have too many accounts set up that use my current email, and there is no real incentive to change.

  • http://probloggerdesigns.blogspot.com/ ProBloggerdesigns

    Will definitely love to have the facebook email.
    its a great idea.

  • http://www.bigorangeplanet.com Big Orange Planet

    We’ve been saying Facebook is becoming a very dangerous place for some time now. Its true that the vast majority of users still are blissfully unaware of the dangers> It remains to be seen what new hazards this will bring. However back to topic- the answer to the asked question is yes.

  • http://www.themarketingprofessional.com The Marketing Professional

    I welcome a Facebook mail account and would probably migrate a majority of my mailing activity to use it as my primary messaging platform.

    I am in awe of the power that FB is amalgamating to take over and control this space!

    Mark “The Marketing Professional” Brown

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

    This is interesting because I am aware through word of mouth that people in the past have been banned from FB due to aggressive marketing.

    So the trust is not there from a privacy perspective and if the marketers are telling the truth, the trust isn’t there to make a heavy investment for marketing purposes.

    It is a place for friends first and foremost. I would be skeptical of putting too many eggs in the FB basket. Specifically anything to do with promotional messaging.

  • http://www.internetmarketingtrainingasia.com NotIMGuru

    I am more worried about the deletion of free email if someone complain of spam from your inbox.
    The important thing is never use free email to register with important business contact.

    Use it for non important things.

  • patty

    i would love one but they disabled my last account for no reason so i dont know if i would trust them

  • http://www.kaostomat.com Wahyu Liz

    i suppose MZ look a better mobile future by his projects, he said it would not kill any email providers. in our country, 2nd largest country that using FB, it were a good news.
    simplicity is better.

  • http://timothymccorkell.bbnow.org/ Timothy McCorkell

    To be honest, I’m not really sure if I wan’t a @facebook.com email. But just in case all my friends get one and think I’m a nerd for not having one, then I guess I better reserve my preffered email name, just in case it’s gone shortly afterwood.

    But, I do kind of wonder if this may turn out to be some sort of a spam fest. Facebook has been under pressure to stop giving out info about it’s users, and has been making great strides to solve this problem. So, I just hope that Facebook puts spam protection into it’s new email. So, I’ll wait a while and see before I use the email account in earnest.

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