This morning, at 4am AEST at the annual F8 Conference, Facebook pretty much justified their entire existence. In one fell swoop, they’re taking on YouTube AND are redefining the shopping experience. “How?” you ask. Simple…with Messenger.
Yes, Messenger. The little app that could. Turns out that a lot of people use Facebook to send messages to each other (around 600 million people every month) and they do so using Facebook on the web or the Messenger app. Over the past 12 months, Facebook has been slowly separating their mobile experience. The Facebook application is now used to view your Facebook page and any pages you may follow, the Messenger app is how you contact your friends, Instagram is the app you use to take and share photographs, Groups is a recent app that allows you to keep in contact with all of the Groups you’re a member of and if you run any Facebook pages (we run dozens here at TSM) then there’s the Pages app for you. At first it was a tad confusing why Facebook would spend so much time creating a completely harmonious platform and then split it into a variety of different apps.
Then they announced the Messenger platform.
What is the Messenger platform? The new Messenger allows you to integrate other applications into Messenger itself. So this means that you could easily send GIFs from one friend to another, or your own custom emoji or even games. The easy tie-in with Facebook Messenger means that app developers will be scrambling to develop for the new platform to get their wares in front of 600 million people.
But this is only the beginning. See, Facebook also announced that they would be partnering with a range of businesses to provide sales and customer services. Now, if a business wants to chat with their customer, they can do so directly in the app that they spend most of their time. When you order something from a website you can elect to receive notifications about your shipment (including tracking deliveries) within the messenger platform. So, a small business that wants to provide in-app customer service for their clients no longer have to create their own application for each and every platform: Facebook already has the infrastructure in place to provide a seamless experience from end to end. The new customer service is integrated with ZenDesk, a widely used digital customer service portal for websites, and allows ZenDesk users to simply use the chat feature as a stand-in for Messenger. Whether or not the company will gain any Facebook insights about their new customers is unknown.
Developers will be clawing at the bits to create a host of applications, businesses will be dying to chat with their customers in Messenger….but how is Facebook taking on YouTube?
Well, Facebook also announced today that you could embed Facebook videos into other websites.
Wait, what? You couldn’t do that already? Nope! Turns out that this fairly basic function was off limits to all of the people who upload Facebook videos. This comes off the heels of an updated video section for Facebook pages and increased reach for Facebook videos vs YouTube videos. With easy embedding, Facebook has just taken a huge step to challenge YouTube. Whilst they are a long, long way off from knocking the crown from Google’s head they have begun to sharpen their knives.
This mornings F8 Conference will go down in Facebook’s history as the moment they unveiled their plans to the world. A world where commerce, customer service and communication are all conducted in the one platform. The question will no longer be ‘what is Facebook doing?’; rather it will be ‘what isn’t Facebook doing?’. The answer will be: not much.