A number of online news providers have reported that social media phenomenon Facebook has plans to roll out a feature for its standalone chat app, Messenger, which would allow businesses who use the platform to send ads to consumers.
TechCrunch reported that it had stumbled upon leaked documents that suggest this move could be introduced by the social site as early as next month, which will be 2016’s second business quarter.
However, the documents are believed to state that businesses will not be able to simply contact anyone and everyone that has an active Facebook account and spam them in an attempt to get them to purchase the next big product to hit the market. Businesses will only be able to pass on sale announcements and product information to consumers that they already have a message thread with.
This will come as a relief to the large number of Facebook users who feared that their inbox would become filled with junk in a similar fashion to their email inboxes. However, the leaked documents do suggest that the social networking site is encouraging businesses to begin attempting to start chats with as many consumers as possible so that these businesses will be able to start sending ads and information to customers once the feature eventually rolls out.
Whilst these rumours and reports may ring alarm bells for some users, digital experts suggest that this move isn’t at all surprising, as Facebook has made a number of changes in the last couple of years to facilitate this capability.
The networking site has overhauled and updated its pages for both businesses and products in recent years, adding a number of seemingly innocent and harmless functions that are actually quite useful, such as the addition of ‘call to action’ buttons that allow a customer to contact a business, book appointments or browse products. As well as this, businesses can now access the messaging tools through Messenger.
If used correctly, Facebook can be a useful tool for businesses, especially for business-to-customer organisations. The site is now a main focus point for a lot of companies that have social media strategies in place as part of their online marketing plans.
Businesses being able to utilise Messenger is a way for them to connect with customers to help solve problems and provide feedback away from the public eye, which could be beneficial to the reputation management of certain companies.
If this feature is something Facebook is serious about, it could throw a potential spanner in the works for businesses that may find themselves needing the help of a professional. Digital agencies such as Engage Web can help to provide guidance and advice for businesses regarding their social media strategies.