Facebook’s monetisation of Messenger

Last Spring, in a bid to increase the number of users, Facebook announced its plans to start letting brands and businesses use its Messenger app to handle customer service issues. Then, having reached over 700 million monthly active users last summer, they went public with their upcoming plans to monetise the app, but not with immediate effect…

Zuckerberg previously stated the importance of waiting until Facebook products hit 1 billion users before turning them into ‘meaningful’ businesses. So, instead of forcing a monetisation model on Messenger before it was popular enough to fully warrant it, they waited, but now it seems the time is nigh! According to leaked documents recently obtained by TechCrunch, Facebook intend to roll out adverts into the app in Q2 this year.

In itself, this isn’t a particularly surprising move as Facebook made several product changes that tipped the cap to this change. These changes included its renovation of the Pages feature which made it possible for potential customers to do things like book appointments. They also enabled all businesses to use the app. What is interesting is what this change means for you, your brand opportunities and your social marketing strategy.

Well, if your company’s social media department already have message threads open with customers, (which the customer has initiated) then your company will be able to send out direct adverts to these customers. However, it has also been leaked that this channel can’t be used for advertising purposes to anyone who hasn’t initiated discussions with your company. The document also recommends that to prepare for this new feature, businesses should get customers to start message threads now, so they will be able to target them with ads when the feature rolls out.

However, before you rush off to encourage potential customers to start up a conversation thread with your company, so you can later target them with advertising, make sure you have fully considered the implications:

  • Do you have the resources in place internally to maintain the additional conversations on this channel? If not, you risk irritating your customer base through slow response times.
  • Consumers on social are pretty savvy and may well cotton onto your strategy when you start targeting them with brand adverts.
  • The accuracy of your targeting is key. Customers who are genuinely into a brand may not mind if they start receiving brand adverts, if they resonate with them. Alternatively, you could alienate potential customers with badly targeted adverts.
  • Is it the right channel to use? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself whether you would be annoyed if you started receiving targeted adverts on such a personal communication channel.

What you do with this opportunity is in your hands but I hope this has helped you to make a more informed decision before tweaking your social media strategy to include this new feature.

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