At the most recent Facebook Communities Summit, an announcement was made about providing users of that platform with the ability to respond to Instagram Direct Messages from within the inbox of their Facebook Page. The announcement was included within a much longer post related to upcoming changes to Facebook groups, and for some reason was included in among the different group updates.
It was also noted that this new capability will be rolled out to users in Brazil and the United States first, before making it generally available to Facebook users in other locations. The announcement of this new capability is thought to be another step in the direction of unifying Facebook’s various messaging apps and to make them more usable across the family of platforms.
Using Instagram Direct Messaging
From within Instagram Direct, you have the capability of sending messages to multiple individuals, and the messages you send can include photos or videos, posts from your feed, profiles, hashtags, locations, or simple text. All the messages which you send from Instagram Direct can be seen by tapping the arrow symbol in the top right corner of your Feed.
Once your messages are displayed, you have the capability of managing those messages and disposing of them in any way that you desire. When sending a post from your Feed using Instagram Direct, it will only be visible to those individuals who can already see the post. This means that if you were to send a post from a private account in the format of a message, only those individuals who actually follow that account would have the capability of seeing your message.
Formerly, messages, photos, or videos sent from Instagram Direct could not be shared to sites like Facebook or Twitter, and would not appear on hashtag or location pages. The announcement about receiving Instagram Direct messages on Facebook Page displays, will overcome this shortcoming of the past.
Facebook Page roles
The admin role for Facebook Page is one of six different kinds of roles which are made available to users for the purpose of managing Pages. Whenever a user creates a Page, they automatically become the administrator of that Page, and that allows them to change how the Page looks, as well as how it can be published.
Of the six roles, only an administrator has the capability of assigning roles or changing the roles of other users. Multiple individuals can have roles on the same Page, but each one of these users must have their own Facebook account to do so. The capabilities given to a Facebook Page administrator are by far the most comprehensive and include a wide variety of capabilities.
For instance, an administrator is allowed to manage Page settings and roles, add apps and edit Pages, send messages from the Page, respond to and remove posts or comments to the Page, or to remove and ban people from using the Page. Responding to Direct Messages from Instagram is now an additional capability afforded to the Page administrator, thereby increasing the responsibilities for that role on a Page.
The context of this announcement
The announcement that Facebook Page administrators will be able to respond to direct messages from Instagram follows closely on the heels of a report issued by the New York Times which is similar in nature. The New York Times report declared that Facebook apparently has a grand plan of integrating all the messaging functions of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger into a single platform.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to that report by commenting that unification of the three messaging apps is still on the distant horizon, and should not be expected anytime soon by users of any of those platforms. There was some very keen interest in the New York Times report since it meant that the unification of the messaging apps would greatly simplify and enhance communication across the Facebook family of applications.
It would also significantly lower the potential for Facebook’s tools to be broken up into discrete elements in the event that harsher regulatory measures would be levied against the company anytime in the future.
Confirmation of the announcement
The announcement made at the Facebook Communities Summit was officially confirmed just days later and has been welcomed enthusiastically by businesses, which will now be able to manage their direct communications between Facebook and Instagram from a single area. Ordinary users are also expected to benefit from the convenience of being able to send and receive messages between the two platforms.
The capability of managing Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook interactions was first rolled out in Page Manager as far back as 2016. At that time, a unified notifications stream was enabled across all three platforms, although it did not include Instagram messages. Each of the three messaging services will continue to function as a standalone app, but the underlying structure of each is being modified so that users who exclusively operate within one of the three will be allowed to communicate with users from the other two platforms.
All three of the messaging services will have the ability to support end-to-end encryption, so as to keep messaging secure against hackers. This move is considered to be another step taken by Facebook in the direction of its stated goal of making it easier for family and friends to communicate across networks. Another reason for merging the messaging services of all three apps is to keep users more engaged, as they utilize the merged system as their main messaging service. This, in turn, will provide Facebook with higher user engagement which it can then tout to its advertisers, so as to encourage greater advertising investment.
Since the time of the initial messenger service merger announcement, Instagram messages have become a much larger project, with at least half of all Instagram users now making use of Direct Messaging. There are also increasing numbers of users who are looking to make a connection with brands having a presence on the platform, which makes integration of the three a highly desirable outcome. With more and more businesses seeking to benefit from the soaring popularity of Instagram, this new functionality is likely to prove to be a boon to all of them. Look for a limited rollout in the next few weeks for select markets, and for a broader release to follow in the weeks after that.