Why Facebook’s App Changes Matter

Two technologies we use almost daily are changing right before our very eyes: Facebook and the use of mobile apps. Along with this change may come a revolution in direct marketing and e-commerce. With changes this big, we would expect no less than for Facebook to be the one to initiate them.

Once Facebook does something, everyone else usually follows suit. That’s why we need to be prepared for a broad evolution of the app eco-system; we’re moving into a world where social networking combines chat, e-commerce, marketing and advertising, gaming and other functions. If you don’t think this combination is turns into a viable product, just ask China – this is how the country’s social networks have operated for quite some time now.

Facebook’s darling, the Messenger app, is going to grow up into an all-in-one platform. Or, rather, it already has: at the company’s F8 developer conference last week, Facebook introduced the 47 apps that integrate directly with Messenger.

What’s the Big Deal

Along with this new integration will come the ability for users to more directly interact with businesses as well as complete transactions (this service is dubbed “Businesses on Messenger”). Companies will soon be able to utilize Messenger as an e-commerce medium (and users will be able to send friends money via the app, too). They will apparently be able to integrate Messenger into their websites, which will allow for people to purchase items directly through the app. Businesses will also be able to (and possibly more importantly) use the app to resolve customer service problems and issue order updates, confirmations, shipping notifications, etc. (Could this cut down on public customer service gripes via Facebook pages and Twitter?). This direct line to customers is then good for more than just transactional interaction – it’s good for communicating new, personalized offers and more. Email marketing may finally find itself knocked from the throne of most successful direct marketing medium.

Another interesting development – user comments on articles across the web will show up under the article when it is posted to Facebook. This will be a boon for media companies like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, looking to directly interact with readers. Plus, Facebook will also try to tap into activities usually reserved for offline – aspiring for Messenger to do things like control your house’s locking system or garage door. Then there’s the whole push on Virtual Reality – but we return to our focus:

A Unique and Potentially Revolutionary Impact on Advertising

With these new developments, Facebook will also allow some third parties to prompt users to download their apps through messenger (and offer developers analytics as well). That’s just one piece of the puzzle that reflects Facebook’s desire to be a one stop shop, from marketing pushes to purchase decisions.

In an age of ever-declining reach on Facebook for brands, the most important change here will be the messenger app as an e-commerce and outreach platform. The ability to directly interact with users via the app could change the game. See an interesting take on this is below (via Seeking Alpha):

“On the messenger side, FB’s feature that allows users to share content from brands and interact with brands directly could result in a richer content and user experience. This will likely to make the platform stickier, laying the basis for the long-term ecosystem build-up oriented around payment services and mobile transactions.”

We look forward to seeing how this develops over the coming months. If you have any questions or comments, let us know on Facebook! (Where else?)

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