Thursday, 21 December 2017 04:00

Facebook Messenger: how it shaped people-to-business conversations in 2017

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Facebook has looked back at its Messenger and the messaging trends that shaped 2017, "uncovering interesting data about how people are messaging with each other and businesses – over two billion messages were exchanged between people and businesses each month".

"Twenty-five years ago," explains Facebook, "the first text message was sent by a British engineer named Neil Papworth. It was a simple, two-word text."

Now, my note here is that AOL Instant Messenger may well now be completely dead, but a platform like Facebook's Messenger has never been more now, nor more alive.

The company continues, stating: "Since that day in December of 1992, texting has evolved significantly and transformed the way we connect – blossoming into a medium that is highly visual, social and integral to the way we relate to one another. Text messaging today is so much more than, well, text, with people enhancing the way they communicate with emojis (over 500 billion in 2017!), GIFs and augmented reality, and more recently, welcoming some virtual help into their conversations."

{loadpoition alex08}Facebook notes how, in April 2017, the company "introduced M suggestions to enrich the way we communicate and get things done. Powered by artificial intelligence, M is claimed to be a helpful assistant in Messenger, offering suggestions by popping into an open conversation to suggest relevant content and capabilities.

"From sending or requesting money, to wishing your friend a happy birthday, to sharing stickers (the most popular suggestion of 2017!), M was designed to push the evolution of messaging even further and bring people together in more meaningful and functional ways. We’ve gone from zero to over 100 million people interacting with M in November across ten countries and in four languages, and we can’t wait to see how M will continue to help shape the way people connect with each other in 2018 and beyond," continued Facebook.

We're told that, "There's no question that the way we message has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, but who we message has expanded as well, going beyond our friends and family to encompass the brands and businesses we love. And in turn, businesses of all sizes have embraced messaging, turning to Messenger to personalise their relationships with their customers, elevate their brand image, and make life easier for the people that wanted to interact and do business with them.

"Businesses of all kinds used Messenger in 2017 to connect with their customers, with over two billion messages sent between businesses and people each month, and over 200,000 bots on the Messenger platform.

"The top industries using Messenger to connect with people in 2017 were professional services, retail, local entertainment, public good, and media, with brands and organisations like Progressive, Saks, Kiehls, Fandango, Alcoholics Anonymous, Rethink Breast Cancer and celebrities like Katy Perry all launching Messenger experiences in 2017.

"People across the globe use Messenger to connect with businesses. The top five countries where people messaged businesses the most in 2017 were the US, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam.

"To help further connect people with the businesses they love", Facebook said that "this year, we launched the Discover tab, a section in Messenger that makes it easy and simple for people to find and browse businesses Pages and bots. Since announcing Discover in April, we have launched in 24 countries including the US, France, Australia, Brazil and India.

"Businesses also began building Chat Extensions this year, a new way for multiple people to chat with the same business at the same time. Over the past eight months brands like Apple Music, the Food Network, Fandango and Pinterest have all built Chat Extensions, enabling people to share music, recipes, movie times, decorating tips and more – all within their Messenger conversations. And just last month we released Customer Chat plugin — now in open beta — which enables businesses to connect with their customers on their website and in Messenger, creating one seamless conversation across platforms. Major brands already using Customer Chat include AirFrance, KLM and Volaris."

Facebook tells us that it has been "an incredible year for the evolution of messaging and the impact it has had on bringing people together in new and innovative ways".

"At Messenger, we’re honoured to have been a part of that growth and evolution. Most of all, we’re thankful to the countless people and businesses that turned to Messenger in 2017 to help make their lives a little easier, get things done, and forge meaningful connections. We can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring."

Facebook has more messaging trends for 2017 here. More below the image. Turn phone horizontal if you want to view the entire image. 

Messenger in numbers:

  • More than 1.3 billion people use Messenger every month.
  • There are over 200,000 monthly active bots on Messenger and over 100,000 developers are building bots for Messenger.
  • More than two billion messages are sent between people and businesses each month.
  • More than 20 million of the 70 million Pages on Facebook are active on Messenger.
  • According to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, 56% of people surveyed would rather message a business than call customer service, and 67% expect to message businesses even more over the next two years.

So, what about some Australian stats?

Facebook shared some information there, too:

  • In 2017, Messenger achieved a key milestone by reaching an audience of 1.3 billion people worldwide and 13 million people in Australia – that’s more than half of the country’s population and almost 80% of smartphone users. Many of these people are already connecting with businesses via Messenger.
  • The top Verticals on Messenger in 2017 were professional services, retail, local entertainment, public good, and media.
    People across the globe used Messenger to connect with businesses, with the top five countries where people messaged businesses in 2017 being the US, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam
  • One of the businesses that Aussies connected with the most in 2017 was Qantas – a case study and quote about Qantas’ results on Messenger is below, please read on.
  • With all those 200,000+ bots, throughout this year, Messenger developed new features to help businesses connect with their customers in a more meaningful way.

Facebook says some highlights this year include:

  • Discover Tab: A section in Messenger that makes it easy and simple for people to find and browse businesses Pages and bots. Australia was one of the first markets where Messenger launched the Discover tab, which has now been rolled out to 100% of people on Messenger. Discover is now available in 24 countries including the US, France, Brazil and India
  • Chat Extensions: Chat extensions enable multiple people to chat with the same business at the same time. Some of the major brands to launch chat extensions this year include Apple Music, the Food Network, Qantas, ABC News, AFL, Australian Open, Toby Tigerair, TripAdvisor, PayPal and more
  • Customer Chat: now in open beta, Customer Chat enables businesses to connect with their customers on their website and in Messenger.
  • Messenger also introduced its highly anticipated AI feature, M Suggestions, to enrich the way we communicate and get things done. M is the helpful assistant in Messenger, offering suggestions by popping into an open conversation to suggest relevant content and capabilities. M has come a long way since it was launched on April this year. More than 100 million people interacted with M suggestions in November across 10 countries and in four languages
  • M suggestions range from wishing friends a happy birthday to sharing your location when trying to meet up with friends, creating polls, and the most popular suggestion of 2017, which was sharing stickers.

Qantas Case study:

Facebook tells us that Qantas, Australia's biggest airline, "started using Messenger for customer service in 2016, and added a travel inspiration bot and booking confirmations in 2017 to increase engagement in the growing channel. As a result, Qantas had nearly 400K open conversations with customers".

"With a promotion planned for mid-September (2017), the airline wanted to test Messenger for re-engaging travel intenders. By adding sponsored messages to their media mix for the promotional campaign, they found that Messenger was the most efficient digital channel for driving link clicks during their Spring flight sale.

"Over the course of their 5-day campaign, Messenger’s sponsored messages had a CTR that was 4.5X compared to Facebook Link ads, and radically improved on standard and native display click through rates – 116X and 93X respectively.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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