Some users may have noticed a slight change in Facebook Messenger recently, or might have received customer service messages from some of their favorite online retailers through the app.
These innovative uses of Facebook’s messaging program are just the beginning of the big changes in store for this popular communication program. Last year, Facebook opened the software to outside developers to help expand functionality and improve commercial opportunities.
Commercial Opportunities in Store for Messenger
eCommerce businesses like Everlane and Zulily have already been given free reign to reach out to customers with shipping updates or to handle customer service questions.
Customers get the advantage of chat-based customer support along with the convenience of Facebook Messenger, an application they’re already using. Other proposed scenarios include incorporating partners like 1-800-Flowers.com so existing customers have the option to be reminded of important holidays and promotions in time to take full advantage.
Currently, some users are able to use the Messenger app to hail rides with Uber or Lyft, or book flights and get updated information if they’re flying with Dutch airline KLM. Although customers haven’t fully taken to using Messenger as a way of connecting to transportation, Facebook is still experimenting with different ways to utilize these tools. This may include incorporating a virtual assistant bot into Messenger that can help with various commercial tasks.
Lots of Bots
“M,” Facebook’s bot, which is expected to rival Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa in functionality will be able to complete tasks like making travel arrangements and booking appointments. Microsoft’s failed experiment with bot “Tay” shows that there’s still a lot to anticipate about how bots can be used (and abused) once put to work, but hopefully Facebook will be able to build upon this failure to model a better design that can anticipate or at least understand when it’s being misused.
Ads for FB Messenger are also being explored, though they’re certainly the least exciting development in a string of very exciting developments. Ad pushes from Lyft and Uber are already appearing as a platform for better ad viewing is underway. Evercore ISA analyst Ken Sena believes Messenger and its sister app, WhatsApp, will soon be profitable commercial vehicles, capable of generating up to $4 billion in annual revenues, according to the Wall Street Journal.