Some Things Businesses Should Know About Facebook Messenger

Chris CrumBusiness

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Facebook is touting its progress with Messenger, announcing that it recently surpassed the 800 million-user milestone. As Messenger evolves into a greater business tool, this massive user base is key.

Do you expect Messenger to become a significant part of your business communication efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Facebook put out this small infographic looking at 2015 additions to the product as well as 2016 trends:

If you look at the "features introduced" section, it really demonstrates just how much Messenger has already improved as a tool. The platform component means developers can build all kinds of useful integrations - some with business potential.

The video calling feature can certainly be useful for internal communications, and potentially B2C communications.

The Businesses on Messenger component is self-explanatory, but in case you missed it, this was a major announcement last year. In a nutshell, Facebook is letting businesses enable their customers to opt into communications through this channel. For a closer look at what that entails read this.

The ability to send and receive money is also self-explanatory. While the feature is largely for P2P exchanges, he potential here is obvious, particularly as Messenger trends toward more B2C interactions.

Faster speed, updated location sharing, virtual business cards, and M all have the ability to play notable roles in business interactions as well.

M is the digital virtual assistant within Messenger. It's still in testing, and Facebook considers it to be "very, very early days," but says the growing AI capabilities are bringing "unparalleled convenience to simple, every day tasks like booking a restaurant, sending flowers, and making plans."

Now Facebook is even giving developers tools to build more bots to help users within Messenger.

"2015 was a year when we made significant improvements to how we enable people to communicate. Among other things, we made Messenger blazing fast, we introduced video calling, the ability to customize conversations with colors, nicknames and emojis, and with Businesses on Messenger, we introduced a new way for businesses to engage their customers by providing them with a delightful, personal experience," writes David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products. "We rolled out the ability to send and receive money to friends right from conversations, launched Messenger Platform for expression apps, and updated the way you can choose to share your location. We added helpful information at the top of new conversations so you always have the context of who you’re talking to if it’s not a Facebook friend, and with Message Requests, we built the foundational step of enabling you to find and talk to anyone. We also made photo sharing with friends easier than ever with our new feature Photo Magic. Additionally, we started testing M, a digital virtual assistant, and closed the year by launching our transportation platform with Uber. It was a busy year! We created all these experiences with a mindset of helping hundreds of millions of people manage their daily interactions with people, businesses, and services more seamlessly than ever."

In a blog post, Marcus goes into more details about each of the 2016 trends listed in the infographic.

For the "disappearance of the phone number," he's basically saying that you can communicate with people in a variety of ways (text, stickers, photos, videos, voice clips, GIFs, location-sharing, sending money) without knowing a person's phone number. I'm not sure that the phone number will literally disappear because of Messenger, but it is indeed a powerful platform for communication. No doubt about it.

On "threads are the new apps" Marcus says, "We’re seeing a paradigm shift in how people engage. At Messenger we’re thinking about how we can help you interact with businesses or services to buy items (and then buy more again), order rides, purchase airline tickets, and talk to customer service in truly frictionless and delightful ways. It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity – no need to ever login – rather than downloading apps that you’ll never use again and jumping around from one app to another. Our early tests in 2015 with brands are showing that interactions will happen more and more in your Messenger threads, so we’ll continue making it easy for you to engage with businesses, and we’ll also do more to enable additional businesses and services to build the right experience in conversations."

Last month, Nielsen released released data showing the top ten smartphone apps in the U.S. for 2015. Messenger was number three, and showed the fastest growth by far with a 31% year-over-year change, nearly catching up to YouTube.

At that rate, it should easily surpass the video app in the very near future if it hasn't already.

If you're on the fence about whether or not you should even think about using Messenger for business in the future, just stop and consider that for a moment.

What do you think? Is Messenger going to make a big splash in business this year? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Images via Facebook, Nielsen

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.