The updates from this week’s F8 conference indicate a push towards more one-to-one interactions through the introduction of dating features, a more streamlined Messenger, and video chatting in Stories. Keep reading to see how the landscape has changed and what it means for brands in 2018.
The Changing Landscape
Facebook started as a platform where people and brands interacted with friends and followers en masse. A shift is now taking place that stems from privacy concerns and users feeling inundated with content, causing some to converse less in the comments on public pages, and more in private conversations through direct messages. It’s projected that 21.5MM more users will adopt over-the-top messaging apps (e.g. WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.) by 2022, making this a space for marketers to watch, explore, and innovate.
How Facebook's F8 Announcements Support One-to-One Interactions
Facebook announced updates across its suite of apps (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) that focus on improving one-to-one interactions.
- A more simplified Facebook Messenger provides more focus on the ability to start a new conversation or call from the home page
- Video chat capabilities in Instagram Stories will allow you to call one person or a small group, allowing direct calls from Instagram DMs
- New Stickers in WhatsApp may seem like a small cosmetic update, but it shows that Facebook continues to see value in this separate messaging platform
- Dating features will allow users to be matched through a separate dating profile, providing direct messaging on yet another service separate from Messenger or WhatsApp
What This Means for Brands
As your brand begins to embark on this path of personalized connections, you should keep these four practices in mind:
#1: Evolve community management systems. The role of a community management team will be even more critical as Facebook and other platforms focus on one-to-one interactions. Because many social media management systems (SMMS) aren’t able to aggregate direct messages or comments from Instagram the same way they can on Facebook and Twitter, valuable interactions can be missed. Make sure processes exist to moderate engagements from platforms as they evolve, and empower community managers to respond quickly. Direct messages are not only important to facilitate customer service inquiries, but also to create a more personal connection with fans.
#2: Tap into unique ways to measure one-to-one engagement efforts.
While Facebook hasn’t yet updated Facebook Insights to include the number of direct messages on Facebook or Instagram, understand that these metrics are important to the overall social media story. Take into account the metrics Facebook does provide (including response rate and response time to messages) and implement manual processes to report on these efforts.
#3: Transform one-off influencers and spokespeople into long-term brand ambassadors.
Micro-influencers and brand spokespeople will become even more of an asset to brands as consumers begin to migrate towards private messaging. Whether it’s creating a long-term influencer partnership or allowing your current brand ambassadors and content creators to shine on their own social media channels, allowing fans to connect with individuals will prove worthwhile. Brand and agency teams must properly equip these individuals with product trainings, answers to frequently-asked questions, and consistent support, in order to make sure they have the time and information to connect with customers.
#4: Leverage new in-app features and technology to create more intimate interactions.
Take advantage of the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with customers through the new Instagram video chat. One example: fashion brands could use the feature to consult customers on what to wear or purchase for a special occasion. Separately, join the 300,000+ bots on Messenger (source: FB Newsroom) that help answer easy customer service questions on the platform. Lastly, incorporate emojis and stickers to your direct message responses on Facebook and Instagram in order to humanize your brand. In 2017 alone, people shared over 500 billion emoji and 18 billion GIFs in Messenger (Source: FB Newsroom).
Although this shift is happening, by no means do these updates mean you should overhaul your current content strategy. A need still exists for traditional Facebook content and ad formats, but this new focus on one-to-one interactions adds a new frontier for brands to connect with fans on a deeper level.