Facebook Messenger For SMEs
Messenger is Facebook’s best feature. While Facebook is the site for keeping in touch, posting publicly for all your Facebook friends to see isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Messenger solves all those issues. You can contact your close friends without plastering it across everyone’s timeline. And now, you can buy products and book appointments with businesses.
Tell me more about Facebook Messenger
Messenger ended the year with 800 million monthly active users. The figure differs from Facebook because Messenger became a standalone app in April 2015. Splitting Messenger from the original Facebook app allows the Zuck to boast that the two most popular apps on iOS. More importantly, it allows people to use Messenger without a Facebook profile. While the vast majority of users will own and link their Facebook profile, it leaves a little bit of wiggle room as Facebook look to build on the success of Messenger.
To build up a bit of hype for 2016, David Marcus, the VP of Messaging Products, has teased a few future plans. Not all of these plans are too useful for us high flying business types, though certain features sound very promising. Here’s what to expect, and how your SME can be ready for Messenger in 2016.
Facebook Messenger Business Accounts
In the United States, Facebook provide Businesses on Messenger pages for selected companies. Right now, these profiles have two primary uses:
This is the obvious one. Customers can ask questions, receive direct support, even change their shopping order through Messenger. Social media can dramatically improve your customer service record, though the data on unanswered tweets and Facebook comments is pretty damning.
Many customers comment on a business’ Facebook post to complain about an issue and to request a solution. Posting a reply was quite an awkward task, particularly for larger companies. Your post could receive hundreds of comments, making it a little difficult for customers to find replies in the thread. It kinda worked, but not too efficiently.
Messenger improves the system. It allows businesses to reply to customer complaints with a direct message to the user. Customers can either send their problem as an instant message, or can continue with the comment-on-a-random-post system that is currently popular. Businesses can then choose to reply in the thread of comments or send a direct message to the customer.
Not only is this far more helpful, it’s also far more impressive. It leaves more of a lasting impression on customers. You remember the time that a company specifically messaged you to help, particularly if they reply promptly.
As an added bonus, companies that respond to 90% of the messages they receive within an average of 5 minutes receive a public badge of approval. Just like showing off your good reviews, the customer service badge can be a major selling point to potential clients.
This is the powerful one. Right now, online remarketing centres on adverts that appear on your Facebook timeline and text messages sent to numbers that have signed up to a promotional service. Imagine if you could combine the two…
Messenger can do this. With the mammoth amount of data collected by Facebook, (yeah creepy, but pretty useful) they can fairly accurately create a customer profile. People who like x, also like y. With this information, you can send direct messages that will interest customers, just as you can with a text. The difference is, you don’t need to leave Messenger to make a purchase.
Let’s compare this to promotional texts. From a remarketing text, you have to open up an app, or head to the company’s website, or save a code that saves you 20% on your next order. It’s a powerful sales tool, particularly as it targets people that already like your business, but all that opening the app, finding their website business can be frustrating.
One of Facebook’s plans for Messenger is to make it the go-to app. No need to open up Uber, don’t bother downloading Just Eat, it all runs through Messenger. The app supports payments, both to companies and friends, centralising your smartphone experience.
This isn’t limited to products-you-might-like messages. It can be requests for a review, notifications that an item on their wishlist is back in stock, or a simple hope-you-enjoyed-your-meal, come again soon messages. To use a common SME as an example, think of an estate agents. Someone likes your Facebook page, you know what sort of properties they may be interested in based on their area, age and profession. As soon as a potential home comes on the market, you can send a message that includes an option to book a viewing. Not only is this conversion focussed, it also gives people a reason to like your company’s Facebook page.
So what does the future hold for Facebook Messenger?
Worldwide rollouts of Messenger for Business
It’s a no-brainer, Facebook will want businesses across the world to use Messenger. While the Messenger for Business pages are currently US only, we’ll see more countries included. For anyone that has listened to me ramble on about how sure I am that Facebook will create an M-Commerce/E-Commerce platform in 2016, this looks like it.
M-Commerce is the keyword here. Mobile internet usage has overtaken desktop, but there isn’t a unifying do-all app. In the absence of one, we’ve downloaded Virgin Trains, ASOS and Tesco apps. Messenger could be both a sales platform and a business directory, the only app you need for online interaction with businesses.
Automated Messenger chat bots
Chat bots aren’t new to the online world, Internet Relay Chat programs have used chat bots for years. As companies look to improve their response time and customer interaction, it looks like we’re going to see automated responses. Facebook have already given developers access to a Chat Software Development Kit that can build bots and use the Messenger payment system. For companies receiving thousands of messages each day, it makes sense.
Automated responses are useful, particularly during the sales process, but don’t let robotic responses replace your customer support system. For SMEs, chat bots aren’t a top priority. The opposite, in fact. Outside of the online world, a common advantage that SMEs have compared to big brands is personal interaction. Why should this be different on the internet? While the major names are using robots to talk to customers, stay human. Nurture relationships with customers, just as you would when they pop into your shop.
What this means for your SME
Whatever your trade is, it’s time to build your Facebook following. This means improving your current Facebook business page, in time for Messenger’s global takeover. Keep your information updated, integrate your online store or booking system and encourage current customers to review your business online.
A great way to build a following of interested consumers is through Facebook Advertising. You can choose to advertise to a particular demographic, allowing you to easily find potential customers. If you’re unfamiliar with Facebook advertising, or with social media in general, it can be a good idea to hire an agency to manage this form of marketing for you. Look away now if you hate content marketers who self-promote their company. Digital Media Team can help you build your Facebook following, with advertising, scheduling and profile creation options as part of a bespoke social media management package. Sorry about that. Self-promotion over.
Having a strong follower base gives you the edge as Facebook focus more and more on M-Commerce. It doesn’t matter what your business does. Whether it’s retail, restaurants or repairs, customers find products and services online. Start today and place yourself in the best possible position for the global rollout of Facebook Messenger for Business.
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