Social Messaging is a phenomenon that you are undoubtedly familiar with.
When you talk to your friends and family on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger you are engaging in social messaging.
With the growing importance of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) Social Messaging often doesn’t receive as much attention as it deserves.
For many people, especially younger generations, Social Messaging may be seen as a purely informal tool to communicate with peers.
In some ways, it is the result of a “natural evolution” from instant messaging (IM) like Microsoft Messenger (MSN) for those that still remember it, and for those that don’t, a modern example is Skype.
The underlining difference between Social- and Instant Messaging is that the latter does not require a desktop application.
In fact, they are almost exclusively catered towards the smartphone format. For many people they also offer free alternatives to traditional calls and texting (SMS), naturally making them very popular.
Everyone loves free stuff after all.
This is also the reason why Social Messaging has grown massively in recent years. According to Statista in 2017, 1.82 billion people used Social Messaging apps and this number is expected to continue growing in the coming years.
What does this mean?
Social messaging can be seen as a new marketing channel for many businesses.
In case you’re thinking I’m just speculating, here are some of Facebook’s statistics that suggest social messaging is becoming more important:
63% of people are messaging more than they did two years ago
80% of adults, 91% of teens use messaging apps every day
53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message
56% of people would rather message than call customer service
How can Businesses use Social Messaging?
It may come to no surprise that businesses are starting to reap the benefits of social messaging.
It was just a matter of time, right?
The biggest platform that offers social messaging to businesses is Facebook.
Even though the Messenger App had kind of a rocky start at its launch back in 2014, it has come a long way since then.
It is arguably the platform closest to reaching true global reach, since most people that use Facebook also use Messenger.
With Social Messaging becoming increasingly commercialized, the use of messenger bots, or Chatbots, has also become increasingly popular among businesses.
And for good reason.
Hootsuite gave a good definition of them (they also give you some neat examples):
A messenger bot is a piece of software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and converse with you.
The more you chat with a bot, the more it will learn and the more useful it responses should get.
Almost like it was…
These Chatbots make communication with consumers a lot easier and more consistent and can even help you acquire new customers.
Using Facebook Messenger
On the messenger website, Facebook showcases some more good examples of what Chatbots can do for your customers.
But since clicking that link requires way too much effort, I put a nice picture below just for you:
We all know that being put hold with a representative can be frustrating especially if the answer can be provided very quickly through automation.
Remember that time you called IKEA to ask if they had that lamp you really liked in stock only to be put on hold for 15 minutes for Steve from sales to tell you it was in fact not in stock?
Okay, maybe it wasn’t IKEA but you get the picture.
The advantage is that you don’t need to hire someone to point a customer in the right direction.
Especially if the information gets delivered to them before they even ask for it! Amazing!
Don’t believe me?
The Guardian, for instance, offers a Chatbot service that will send you the daily news every morning without you having to even lift a finger (except to unlock your phone of course).
Finally, Facebook makes money from advertising, so obviously you can advertise your businesses’ Chatbot on Messenger as well.
These basically work the same way as sponsored ads on the Newsfeed.
Using the Brand new WhatsApp Business
Recently WhatsApp has released its WhatsApp Business service that allows SME’s to utilize instant messaging to communicate with their customers.
WhatsApp Business is a good example of social messaging being used as a channel.
The nature of WhatsApp Business makes it very suitable for SMEs since, while it doesn’t utilize Chatbots, it offers a good balance between automation and personal touch.
For instance, any customer that contacts you can be greeted with an automated greeting.
If they then decide to buy something the use of quick replies lets you quickly send order confirmations, or if they are returning customers you can even notify them of promotions.
Furthermore, WhatsApp Business also lets “access important metrics such as how many of your messages were successfully sent, delivered, and read.”
And metrics are juicy.
Social messaging has seen a dynamic shift from being used purely as a social means for consumers to communicate with one another to a legitimate marketing channel that businesses can use to not only maintain relationships with customer in a time efficient and cheap manner but also for a way to attract new customers.
It is a channel that allows businesses to use Chatbots and their AI capabilities to take over some CRM, while also giving smaller businesses to keep in closer contact with their customers, and easily inform them of any news they might be interested in.