There is some very welcome news coming from Facebook about its plans to merge the messaging services of Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. All three of these messaging services will, of course, continue to operate in their standalone modes, but the infrastructure underneath the three services will be integrated in the coming months to achieve some particular advantages.
One of the most obvious advantages is that an Instagram user would be able to send messages to a WhatsApp user and vice versa, something which currently cannot be done. The project is scheduled for completion toward the end of the current year, or early in 2020, according to several individuals who are close to the project. This could have a huge impact for digital marketers, for reasons which will be described below.
There are rumbles about this move causing some internal rancor between executives of the three social media platforms. This indeed seems to be borne out by the fact that the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp both left their companies in 2018. It is conjectured that their departure was triggered by Facebook guru Mark Zuckerberg’s intention to take more control over those two platforms, which had previously been allowed considerable latitude as separate applications.
This abrupt reversal of policy seems to represent a clear directive on the part of Facebook, and it’s possible that the messaging merger is merely the first step in a larger overall plan for integration. At any rate, there will definitely be some benefits to businesses and consumers with this merger, which a great many people on both sides can take advantage of.
Increased use of chatbots
While you might not think that someone using WhatsApp would want to message a user on Instagram, there could be significant reasons for doing so for businesses, particularly as messaging relates to chatbots. Since the usage of chatbots continues to increase, especially for businesses, it will eventually become very time-consuming and costly for businesses to create separate chatbots for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.
With the looming merger of the messaging capabilities, companies will have the capability of messaging their customers, no matter which of the three platforms they favor, and spend most of their time on. The integration of messaging services would expand the reach of Facebook Messenger chatbots to include a much broader and more diverse audience than ever before. This, in turn, would create a very powerful reason for businesses to initiate communications, or to expand their communications with customers in a chat setting.
A potential alternative for email
You might be surprised to learn that email marketing has become a $100 billion industry, and yet the state of email marketing itself is still largely very primitive and somewhat ineffectual. Virtually any individual or any business can purchase your email address from a vendor who supplies email addresses, and they would then have the capability of sending you unsolicited emails.
This is in fact, already a common practice in business, and when you get those unsolicited emails, as often as not, your request to unsubscribe from them is ignored by the sender. The problem is that there is no really sophisticated alternative to using email for communications between businesses and consumers. Email is the default winner on these communications simply by virtue of the fact that everyone uses it.
When the messaging services are integrated across these three tremendously popular platforms, there is a strong potential for the creation of a messaging system which may actually rival email. Businesses would then have the capability of reaching most users on the Internet. Users, on the other hand, would benefit by having spam eliminated because Facebook requires that its users agree to receive any messages sourced from businesses. Since all parties would benefit from this new messaging service, it appears likely that it could become a new standard in communications between businesses and consumers.
More business services
It is possible when the merger of messaging services has been completely achieved, that additional business services will be made available via the new messaging service. This may sound a little odd, but it’s exactly the state of affairs in China, which offers no news feed, but provides WeChat, which is used by the masses in the same way that American consumers use web browsers. WeChat is used for much more than messaging, and it extends to include the purchase of retail items, calling for transportation services, ordering food from restaurants, and making appointments with doctors.
There is no all-inclusive service like this available in the West, partly because users are significantly divided among the messaging services which they use. When Facebook consolidates these three major messaging services, there would be a definite potential for businesses to roll out many more services which could be made available on this new platform. Because it makes sense for everyone involved, it would appear likely that this might indeed happen in the near future.
Businesses would, of course, benefit because it would provide a whole new market for their products and services, consumers would benefit by an increased availability of products and services they desire, and Facebook would definitely benefit because of increased fees for their services. It has been estimated that the Chinese service WeChat has a value of $400 billion, whereas Facebook is currently valued at somewhere around $500 billion.
Once Facebook’s messaging service integration occurs, and businesses make increased usage of this service to provide greater value to consumers, Facebook’s value could soar into the stratosphere. The ripple effect of all this would reach digital marketers, who would have to significantly alter their strategies, or at least expand them tremendously, to take advantage of the new opportunities available.
It will be very interesting to see what develops after the integration of the three messaging services has been fully implemented. Nothing may happen immediately, but don’t be surprised if you should start seeing a great many more business services offered in your chatting and messaging platforms, sometime in the very near future.