Whether you run a small business on the Sunshine Coast, a medium sized enterprise located in Brisbane, or a multinational company with regional headquarters in Sydney, chances are that each of these businesses share one common thread.
They will all likely have a Facebook presence. The social networking site that began as a way for college students in the United States to contact each other has become a key way for businesses across the world to interact with their customers.
That’s why the recent announcements by Facebook regarding its Messenger platform could have far reaching consequences for businesses.
The Messenger product of Facebook was initially integrated into the broader social network as a way for users to message each other more privately than writing on public “walls”.
Some time ago, Facebook separated the two platforms, creating a stand-alone Messenger application for mobile. The move was unpopular at first, but was an important first step in creating a core platform out of the Messenger app.
Why the Split?
As with any demerger or split, the question is “why?” A company the size of Facebook doesn’t do things by accident, or for no reason. Their vision is to replace a category of business to consumer (B2C) communications.
Take the common example of waiting for the delivery of a package with Australia Post. Typically, the company you buy from will have your email address to alert you about deliveries. But research shows that typical Facebook users check their apps several times a day, and many times more if they have their “alerts” turned on.
Instead of an email landing in an inbox that is rarely checked, imagine it landing right on the home screen of your smartphone. Now expand that example to waiting for tradespeople to arrive, or estimating the wait time for your doctor’s appointment before you leave home and you can see the potential of the idea.
Businesses on Messenger
The initial trial version of this functionality will be called Businesses in Messenger, and is being rolled out to a pilot audience of test businesses as of this month. The preview shown at the recent Facebook conference also shows the potential for the new and improve app to improve aspects of customer relationship management with truly personal conversations rather than generated system generated emails.
This could include customers requesting orders at specific times, making last minute changes to their order or being offered exclusive buyers only discounts and deals on additional impulse purchases. The added advantage is that all communications are grouped in a natural “conversation” thread rather than an unwieldy email chain.
And that is likely to be just the first step in the Messenger grand plan. Facebook is adept at customer data capture, through tracking what its 890 million user like, share and tag in their posts.
Data analytics and Messenger will give small businesses the opportunity to talk directly to users in their area who have shown an interest in their brand or others like it. Advertising often speaks about its purpose as starting a conversation with a customer through television or print, but this could be the real thing, bringing great local businesses into direct contact with potential customers in their area.
The future of business communications is bound to be exciting and unpredictable, but if you have pressing needs today to upgrade your phone system, want to investigate efficient and cost saving solutions like VOIP, or just want some general advice, just contact us by clicking here – we’re here to make doing business simpler.