What the Facebook Message Platform Means for Businesses

social media toolsAre you up to speed on Facebook’s new messaging platform? Have you considered how it could impact your business?

Last year, Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to Facebook’s messaging platform. Now you can integrate your email, text messages and chat messages into one platformFacebook. If you would like an @facebook.com email address, you can get that as well.

Putting it another way, “The platform has three components: seamless messaging, conversation history and social inbox. Conversation history places all one-to-one communications in a single strand, including chat, email or SMS,” reports DM News.

Email too Slow

facebook sms

Example of what messages now look like on your phone.

Zuckerberg thinks that email is too slow and the future is going to lead to faster messaging. “We don’t think the modern messaging system will be email.” He noted that the “‘next-generation’ messaging will be seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple, minimal and short, but not email,” reports CNTV.

Through Facebook’s email, you’ll also be able to filter your messages from friends and others. According to Facebook’s blog, “It seems wrong that an email message from your best friend gets sandwiched between a bill and a bank statement. It’s not that those other messages aren’t important, but one of them is more meaningful. With new messages, your inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into another folder where you can look at them separately. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.”

All-in-One Messaging

According to Inside Facebook, “The best part about new messages is how it brings chat into threaded, searchable conversation history. If someone sends you a message when you’re online, you’ll see it as a chat. If you send them back a chat and they’ve already logged off, it’ll be routed to their new messages inbox, and shown in the same thread as your previous chat. This means you don’t have to worry about conversations breaking down because one person changed the interface through which they were communicating.”

If you use Gmail, you may be thinking a lot of these new features seem very familiar. Priority Inbox filters important messages so you see them first, and if you use Gchat and go offline, you’re able to get the missed message in your inbox.

This has many people thinking, “Is Facebook the Gmail killer?” It’s too soon to tell, but Augie Ray, an online marketer, believes “it’s about facilitating and enhancing your personal relationships. Facebook wants to be the platform for personal communications and leave the boring stuff to Gmail and others.”

Groups

In the revamped Facebook’s Group features, you can now send one message to a group of friends that you choose. To do this, simply go to the Create a Group button on the left side of your home page.

facebook group

This box appears once you hit the button.

From here you can select the friends you wish to invite and name the group. This way you can stay up to date on everything with your friends, colleagues and business partners. Facebook Groups used to be less integrated and more novelty, but now people can make groups based simply around a grouping of their friends to share information on a private platform.

Why This Is Important

Groups, when combined with Facebook email, could be a game-changer for email marketers in 2011. Instead of sending traditional email blasts, you can send creative messages via Facebook that are more likely to resonate with recipients. It’ll serve as a new and unique platform for receiving marketing messages.

Most users check their Facebook accounts more often than they check their email accounts, primarily due to mobile accessibility and connectivity across other social media platforms. As marketers, you need to stay up to date on how your audience is taking in their information, and this could be the next step.

With that said, email marketers need to realize their current subscribers may be changing their email addresses over to a Facebook address. Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations for Silverpop, tells CMO.com that “the Facebook platform is only going to hasten people to change their email address. If you don’t make it easy for somebody to change their address with you, they have to unsubscribe, and you run the risk of their not re-subscribing. And even if they do re-subscribe, you lose your history with them.”

For this reason, McDonald says, it’s critical that your email preference center includes an address-change option and that you link to it prominently within all your outbound email and (of course) on your Facebook page.

Word of Mouth

The reason social media in general has become so attractive for marketers is that it’s basically the newest way to spread word of mouth. “Two-thirds of the world’s gross domestic product, especially in the United States, is driven by word-of-mouth recommendations,” according to McKinsey & Company and reported by Standard Media.

Will this new messaging platform make things even easier for word-of-mouth messages? It seems Facebook is trying to make connecting to people as easy as possible. For B2B marketers, the new email could make connecting to CEOs and other decision makers easier. LinkedIn is another source for this, but with everyone having an @facebook.com account, it makes it much easier.

Last March, Social Media Examiner found that “44% of social sharing on the web is driven by Facebook.” Another report on eMarketer shows that the most searched term for the second year in a row is Facebook, and that Facebook “topped Google.com as the most-visited website of the year.” No matter where you stand on how to implement social media, the point is your audience is likely on Facebook.

Too Soon?

Even with all of the statistics and possibilities the new messaging platform brings, the fact remains it isn’t launching to everyone yet. Meaning we really don’t know how important this system will be for marketers. Critics of marketing with Facebook argue that people on Facebook are not engaging in the buying experience, and changes need to be made to Facebook to facilitate conversions.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this messaging system will be a game-changer for marketers or just another feature Facebook offers? Leave your comments in the box below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Shannon Suetos

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on SMBs based in San Diego. She writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions. Other posts by »




More Info
  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Shannon I think this new messaging format will be the key to the future of networking..its about getting your message out fast..no time to wait these days..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    I can see how this could develop into an important component of internet marketing, but I haven’t seen lots of people using it yet. Your point about Facebook users not looking for such marketing messages is well taken. This would seem to be the key, to me, as to whether this is a real opportunity for marketers.

  • http://about.me/oros Jonathan Oliff

    Thanks Shannon, just tested my Facebook email and it seems to be working! :) That stat about FB beating Google.com, is that inclusive of visits to ‘subsidiaries’ (sorry, not sure on terminology) like google.co.uk , google.co.za, etc?

  • tlhote

    I believe this is another try to take back communications from email. Because email is handicaped from a marketer point of view by a strong barrier between spam and legit email. Sure that for marketers, if a switch from email which is a recognized and democratic medium to a proprietary held (FB) but no less recognized platform could happen, then it could be seen as a huge opportunity to touch the users “legally” at anytime they want.

    Simple as that, they should love what is spam, without being named spam. But here are the dificulties :
    1. each try to spam without being proper spam has been seen has such, for instance SEO spam created brand distrust and is relentlessly fought by Google. So it seems that any non legit communications will stay dangerous for companies, even with the seal of approval of FB.
    2. users are very sensitive to whatever unsollicitated that come to them. Even at their job
    3. where does the property of communication tools go ? to Facebook, and like Apple makes pay heavily for anything distributed on their phones, Facebook will surely charge very high the access to their social graph. Another technology lock-in for all the great firms of the world.

  • http://www.profitblog.com Josh

    It really does seem like only a matter of time before e-mail becomes obsolete. I’ve been using the new @facebook.com email a little over the past month and like it a lot. I don’t know if they’ll be able to pull it off or if another company like google will do it but it certainly seems that a new way of communicating on the web is on its way in the very near future.

  • http://twitter.com/ShannonEvansSM Shannon Evans

    Glad you enjoyed the post–I think it opens the door for networking opportunities as well.

  • http://twitter.com/ShannonEvansSM Shannon Evans

    Hi David,

    I think Facebook messaging has great potential, but it’s a slippery slope right now when it comes to sending people marketing messages.

  • http://twitter.com/ShannonEvansSM Shannon Evans

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’m not sure if it that stat is inclusive to the other “subsidaiaries” or not. I’ll see if I can look into it further for you.

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    There are a couple of things going on here – one is Facebook wanting to keep everyone living within Facebook – understandable. It’s the indexing aspect of this that is especially interesting – as standard email gets lost forever but FB messages can have staying power.

    I think Facebook is on the right track, especially as this concerns Groups (as you mentioned). When everyone gets comfortable with groups and uses messaging within them more, we build digital assets much as enterprises are with Yammer.

  • http://www.waynejohn.com/ Wayne John

    I sometimes feel like Facebook is trying to do too much, too quickly. If they think email will be replaced anytime soon, they’re wrong. It will probably take decades for that to happen…and then they’d probably have to compete with a new was to email and communicate that is more universal, and not just within Facebook’s walls.

    Will be interesting to watch and see where this all goes.

  • http://about.me/oros Jonathan Oliff

    I was sure that it did…but that was only my assumption.
    Just thought of it because some other countries are redirected automatically but it probably wouldn’t matter
    Thanks again for the informative post

  • Tim

    I think Promoted Stories and the ability to get ‘earned media’ exposure through individuals’ news feeds when they like your page is where the real value is. Even with the new group functions it will still feel like receiving email.

  • http://twitter.com/Corey_V_ Corey Vandenberg

    I loved this Idea the first time I heard about it…when it was called Google Wave.

  • Rbruce

    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that marketing in the digital age is becoming more about relationships (of some sort) and less about funneling information. I have a feeling that “in-bound marketing” will morph into something more in the near future. The new reality could be “conversational marketing” which has a far more bi-directional emphasis and will encompass chat, email, informational sites, blogs, customer comments, etc. etc. etc. If Facebook can pull some of that into one stream, I think it could move us in a very postive direction which may also give some of the edge back to small businesses who can sustain a more personal online relationship with their base.

  • http://twitter.com/michaeldb Mike Brown

    I’m interested to see if people who have had their personal Facebook accounts for a long time will want to use for business purposes as well. I definitely see how CEOs might be connected to easier, but will it require a friend approval or will you simply be able to email anyone with an @Facebook.com account? Could either be hard to get the permission to contact or could get spammy for the CEOs making it not as useful to marketers.

  • http://twitter.com/michaeldb Mike Brown

    Google Wave was bad. You think Facebook has a better chance of hitting the mark?

  • http://thesocialdeviants.com Taylor V

    I think with how fast new technologies, web video and mobile are growing right now, it is only a matter of time before we integrate email into a system like Facebook. I don’t think email will ever be completely replaced by anything. Until companies out there figure out a way to have multiple accounts with the same login info, at least marketers will need multiple email addresses. What about work email?

    I think Facebook is on the right track for personal email integration, but in so far as business is conducted, people’s egos are big enough that we all need our own separate identity (read: website) with their unique email address. Thoughts?

  • Terrie

    I’m not quite sure how the new interface affects those of us who have pages set up to be “liked” and not “friend”. There is no “group” feature on this style page and I am concerned that our business updates will be lost in the shuffle, making it harder to reach those that have liked us. I inherited this style of page and am wondering if we will have to switch to a fan page or “personal” style page.

  • http://www.instantdane.tv/ Dane Findley

    Is it possible for a platform to change so often that its subscribers begin to lose interest?

    Even if every change is an improvement, what could it matter if folks end up feeling exasperated?

    Also, is there some other start-up out there that is completely re-imagining the online social networking hub? Is Facebook’s future competitor hanging out in a garage somewhere in this moment?

    And finally, what does it mean when the majority of Facebook’ s users are still learning basic online social skills and reciprocity — in other words, *how* to use Facebook in a way that’s the most equitable, enjoyable and time-effective for everyone — while piling-on new advanced features and revamping existing ones? Is there such a thing as “too fast?”

    In truth, I’m grateful for Facebook: it’s free, fun, and it’s still (so far) the best tool for letting viewers know about my lifestyle blog!

  • Terrie

    You just took the words right out of my mouth, Dane. My coworker and I were just discussing that very thing. Is FB setting itself up for a competitor to come in and create something similar, with “ease of use” and consistent interface? I think there are lots of frustrations whenever there is change, so unless it is substantially better, people might be ripe for going elsewhere.

    I’m also wondering what will happen to companies that set up games and other applications, that rely on the viral aspect of FB, users who spread the word about the aps. If say, you are a Farmville player, and your Farm postings no longer show up to all of your “friends”, doesn’t that affect the % of new players coming in? I would think application developers are going to lose big here.

  • melindatoad

    Very interesting! I can see losing some of the older generations if they keep changing FB so frequently. It’s frustrating to have to learn how to use it every few months but I do love Facebook. However, are they really going to allow companies to send “emails” or messages to people? Will this be all inclusive or only for the BIG companies. as it is, Facebook doesn’t want to allow the small fries to do giveaways w/o paying for their app which only big companies can afford. FB also doesn’t like small biz to message fans so I question the validity and honesty of this new integration. Too much change can cause some users to stop returning if they are constantly feeling frustrated because there is some “new” way of doing things every couple of days.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  • http://www.polodesign.ca/blog/ Eric Davidson

    Not sure I’m ready to hand over my entire online existence to Facebook.

    They’ve demonstrated, with the recent “improvements” to business pages, that Facebook is quite happy to make sweeping and disruptive changes to the way they’ll filter and present things. Facebook’s idea of what’s “relevant” to me or my customers is different from mine. Do I want to gamble that they won’t do that to me down the road with “improvements” to their messaging system?

    I still value Facebook as a networking tool, but I’ll keep my own email address for now, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/Corey_V_ Corey Vandenberg

    Yeah, I think I was trying to express that I loved the concept. The execution did lack something though.

  • http://www.austintenantadvisors.com/ Nathan K Smith

    Facebook seems to be staying ahead of the pack…………in some cases maybe a little too far ahead. Some people are still trying to get their arms around other communication platforms such as twitter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonmikelbailey Jon-Mikel Bailey

    Placing this much trust in Facebook makes me very nervous. I am wary of trusting that they will offer any decent support. I love the new features and plan to use it but have no intentions of abandoning my main email account and I highly doubt that CEOs and CMOs will either.

  • http://www.rosnay.com.au/ Sam at Rosnay

    If there is segregation of “friends” messages from “others” I will probably never read “others” as they would be all what I consider spam. Whats wrong with improving the core of facebook, the Wall and Newsfeed? Keep it Simple, consumers want elegant functionality not direct messaging overload.

  • http://www.clintonlord.com/ Clinton Lord

    I was thinking the same thing, it sounds very much like Google Wave… it never seemed to take off. Let’s see what happes here.

    My only thought is how will Facebook fan pages come in to the picture here, if at all?

  • Pingback: How Facebook’s new message platform will change your email marketing | Anita Ashland: Autoresponder Copywriter

  • Pingback: What the Facebook Message Platform Means for Businesses « Big Engine Media

  • Pingback: What the Facebook Message Platform Means for Businesses « Big Engine Media

  • http://www.fb.com/thesocialgarden Eden R

    I am almost hesitant with the Facebook email…maybe I’m old fashioned but putting all your eggs in one basket seems a little risky to me. I have seen peoples FB accounts get shut down and it taking 4-5 days to resolve the issues and getting let back ‘in’, if email is part of that ‘package’ do you risk getting locked out of that as well!
    By keeping me ‘primary’ email in a web based platform I would feel much more secure, not to say that using a FB email for just friends wouldn’t be a good idea, but not for banking/billing items.

  • Chloe Tuttle

    I agree…small business owners LIKE the dot-my business address.

  • http://twitter.com/HPM_Networking Carrie Harrison

    I think that e-mail will still be around like phone numbers are. You still need one, but most conversation is not on it. And I think that it gives you creditability that you have a web base primary e-mail.

  • http://EasyLunchboxes.com Kelly Lester (Easy Lunchboxes)

    With all of the changes Facebook has made lately, many of which are making page owners tear their hair out. I would never put all of my messaging needs into their hands. They change things constantly and are not accountable or accessible when there are complaints or questions. They may have a fabulous plan, but their customer service record is the #1 reason I would not entrust them with my personal emails, etc. EVER.

  • http://www.videocharacter.com Emily from Video Avatar

    When I chat with friends and they suddenly disconnect, it would not automatically send the message because I still need to click the send as message. Did they make it automatic now?

  • http://ofis.opentown.ru/ khibinite

    Do you think that e-mail marketing will die soon?

  • Ique Muniz

    I had some bad experiences here too. Specially with the cel phone integration. The friend requests, messages and other warnings sent by cel phone arrived late. With a huge lag… I don’t know if it’s a Brazil problem with the cel phone companies… But it was really annoing

  • http://90daystoanewme.com Ed Tatum

    Recently, I’ve been asking my facebook friends if they use email or facebook to communicate and the resounding answer has been facebook. This is a natural progression and those who don’t pay attention will perish. GREAT article on what’s ahead

  • JP3

    How do I get a @facebook.com address?

  • JP#3

    Josh – how did u get that set up? Thanks, JP3

  • http://www.profitblog.com Josh

    I remember I had to sign up to get an invite but it only took a few hours or a day at the most. I’m pretty sure I got it through this page:
    http://www.facebook.com/about/messages/

  • http://ideagirlmedia.com/ Keri at Idea Girl Media

    Jeff,

    When I first heard the announcement I was thinking, “Using Facebook will be like wearing shoes.”…

    Everyone does it….out of need.

    So, Facebook will become the shoes of Social Media. I bet Zuck hates that idea… ;)

    ~Keri

  • http://spaceheaterstudios.com/seo-backlink-generation/ Backlink Generation

    Definitely makes business changes and updates much more noticeable.

  • Pingback: Word of Mouth = Social Media | Local Business Spotlight

  • http://twitter.com/ClearPointWeb ClearPoint

    In Josh’s reply above he mentions that you can request a Facebook email address here: http://www.facebook.com/about/messages . I tried it and am now waiting for a response back from Facebook. I’m curious to try it out and see how it works. I am a bit leery of putting my email into Facebook’s hands though…they make so many changes that I fear they would all of a sudden start charging, or make changes that put small businesses at a further disadvantage…

  • http://twitter.com/MykeFortier Michael Fortier

    Email marketing will drastically be affected by users starting to create their own facebook emails. Every digital marketing agency will have to take the proper precautions in order to maintain a strategy campaign.
    Will there be any calls to action on facebook profiles that will allow for you to send an email? Right now there is the option of “send a message”, but will a button be necessary for “send an email”?

    What are your thoughts Shannon?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Birkett/100001154480901 Steve Birkett

    Weaving a variety of communication channels together is a laudable objective, especially given the platform overload we currently have to deal with. Whether or not I trust Facebook with more personal messages is quite another matter.

    One facet of e-mail that I don’t think has filtered through to social networks as yet is the feeling of privacy that the former allows. Of course accounts can get hacked for any online activity, but we allow a lot more third parties to ‘plug in’ to our social network profiles, so the confidence of being behind a largely secure communication ‘wall’ that e-mail offers hasn’t been built by other channels. Given Facebook’s ongoing privacy complaints and track record, e-mail probably has a good deal of life left in it yet. As such, e-mail marketing should still continue to play a crucial role for the foreseeable future.

    The biggest opportunity to my mind lies in tying up a secure, trusted online communication platform to the huge mobile messaging channels. Mobile technology and social media are so interwoven at this point that it seems a very realistic area for Facebook to streamline and evolve the way we handle messaging.

  • Pingback: Weekly Mashup: Facebook Edition

  • tonyidem

    Very interesting post. Thank you for all of the great information!

  • http://twitter.com/jonisolis Joni Solis

    What about the possibility of being hacked? I had couple of friends who’s email account was hacked. How safe is facebook? I just saw this posted on a friends facebook page: While on Facebook, look at your URL address; if you see http: instead of https: then you don’t have a secure session and you can be hacked. Go to Account|Account Settings|Account Security and click Change. Check at least the first setting, otherwise FB defaults to the non-secure setting. Copy and repost.

  • http://fbleadgen.com fbleadgen

    I see this being a problem too. It’d be interesting to compare Open Rates between Facebook Messages vs. traditional email newsletters!

  • Pingback: Becoming more socially responsible in social media | joshuamurphy.com

  • Pingback: What the Facebook Message Platform Means for Businesses | Social Media Examiner | Clear Point Web Solutions

  • Pingback: What will Google’s latest algorithm update mean to your business? | Donovan Creative Communications

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    Face book is coming up with new ideas so that it can go further and get more simple for its users. Social media is effective way of connecting with potential customers and Facebook is the foremost one in this field.

  • Pingback: Social Media Has Changed: Are You Ready?|Mission Engage|Marketing

  • Pingback: What the Facebook Message Platform Means for Businesses | Social Media Examiner - Clear Point Web Solutions — Clear Point Web Solutions







Check out the Social Media Marketing Podcast!
Join our Social Media Marketing Networking Club
Download the free Social Media Marketing Industry Report