Facebook Messenger: The way people communicate is fundamentally changing their brand expectations

Messenger leader says this change in communication expectations is causing a massive gap in what consumers expect and what businesses deliver

Facebook is expecting a huge swing in businesses using Messenger to target and personalise consumer engagement in the weeks leading up to Christmas this year, as consumers change how they expect to be communicated with.

Because the way people are interacting with each other is fundamentally changing the way they expect to communicate with brands, the social media giant's Messenger chief says.

Facebook Australia group industry director, Paul McCrory, said as consumers increasingly expect better experiences, they don’t want to necessarily engage over the phone. Direct messaging platforms are becoming even more vital to ensure a ‘zero friction’ future. 

Recent statistics released by Facebook Messenger bear this out. Almost three in four Australians have communicated with a business via direct messaging, and 55 per cent believe the ability to message at any time makes direct messaging more convenient than phone enquiries. The research also found 14 per cent expect instant replies.

With about 700,000 Australian businesses on Messenger each month, and 27 per cent of consumers having direct messaged a business in the past month, Facebook is gearing up to remain front and centre for the business influx.

McCrory told CMO that far from the idea people simply aren’t communicating anymore, people are actually communicating and connecting more than ever before; they simply have many more mediums in which to do it.

“The volume of one-to-one and group conversations now is phenomenal, people are just doing it in a different way. They are not getting on the phone, they are in a group chat, or a video chat, or watching content together. The options for communicating now are greater than ever before,” he said.

However, this is also causing a massive gap in what consumers expect and what businesses deliver. McCrory said while seven out of 10 companies believe they are providing the right experience to their customers, just two out 10 consumers think they are.

According to Messenger's research, one in three Australians used direct messaging because they couldn’t find the company information they were after; 27 per cent have direct messaged a business prior to purchase; and 27 per cent have direct messaged in order to solve an issue.

“That’s a big gap in expectation. So we see direct messaging platforms as a way for business to connect better with consumers, and offer the experiences the consumer demands," McCrory said. “The opportunities lie in zero friction future, which is how technology and platforms can remove the friction business are going through, like take the friction out of being on the phone.

“We believe companies that do this really well have the opportunity to connect with consumers and make those consumers loyal, then provide better experiences, will get more customers in the long term."

By 2021, it's predicted the global user base for mobile messaging apps will have risen by a further 23 per cent. Globally 1.3 billion people use Facebook's Messenger.

"Australia is one of the most developed Messenger markets globally, we  love using it. We send messaging at the highest rate per capita in the world," McCrory continued. “But it is not just customer service on Messenger anymore, it’s about providing more value, much like Qantas does, and a good brand experience.

“We all know there’s a swing between what a brand says they stand for, and what they actually do. Providing customer experience on the medium they want to receive it is an example of doing something, and building an experience that adds value."

McCrory added consumer expectations on brands now is phenomenal, particularly from millennials, who expect people to respond on messaging within a few hours.

Brand message

To showcase how brands are using the platform more dynamically, McCrory pointed to Culture Kings, which ran a Black Friday and Click Frenzy promotion specifically targeting a Messenger audience and using storytelling to keep the conversation going. Culture Kings, a brand renowned for its in-store experiences, itself experienced a click through rate of 3-4 times what it would usually see, and achieved a 5000 per cent ROI on investment.

Similarly, Qantas started with a bot designed to provide travel inspiration. It used Messenger Platform features like quick replies to determine what the customer wanted then served inspirational content. The airline has since integrated itineraries so customers booking directly through Qantas can choose to send confirmation and itinerary to Messenger. As of August 2018, 60 per cent of queries are getting solved through the Messenger experience.

Lego is another brand that's integrated messaging into its marketing approach, creating Ralph the Gift Bot to provide personalised recommendations and seamless transactions in Messenger. To reach holiday shoppers, it ran click-to-Messenger ads on Facebook and Instagram. Based on internal reporting, Lego’s cost per conversion was 33 per cent cheaper with click-to-Messenger ads than other conversion-based ads. Lego also got a six-times return on ad spend in certain markets, and a three-times higher conversion rate in bot compared to other conversion-based ads.

“Brands have to follow the consumer trend and remove the friction. Lot of people come to Messenger because they can’t find information on a website," McCrory said. “Brands can build a bot in Messenger to answer simple queries, plus enhance their people to answer more detailed questions. Customer service leads to customer retention. Customer experience builds acquisition.”

In the future, McCrory said Messenger will be looking to allow direct messaging between apps, such as Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, with end-to-end encryption, should a user wish to opt in. This is one of the latest of changes Facebook is implementing to take it away from being the ‘town square’ to more of a private living room, following public criticism of its privacy practises.

During Facebook’s Annual Conference earlier this year, founder and CEO, Mark Zukerberg, said believed the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever.

Zuckerberg wrote he expected Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network—not, apparently, Facebook itself. Both apps are being redesigned to make them faster, simpler, more private and more secure.

This week, Facebook also launched the ‘Study From Facebook’ app, which claims to pay people for data on how they use their phones.

“We’ve learned what people expect when they sign up to participate in market research has changed, and we’ve built this app to match those expectations," Facebook said in a statement. "We’re offering transparency, compensating all participants, and keeping people’s information safe and secure.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.  

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