If the above headline looks alien, you probably haven’t heard the news that Facebook Messenger and Instagram direct messages are now compatible.
In simple terms, it means users on Messenger can now message friends on Instagram without leaving the Messenger app and vice versa.
In turn, this potentially means more exposure to a wider demographic of users for brands and businesses who are more active on one platform than the other.
So why the update?
It’s obvious that Facebook is making it harder for regulators to split the company up, and that was all but confirmed recently in a leaked document from Facebook HQ.
But political gameplay aside, the combination of Messenger and Instagram has the potential to be a powerful tool for marketers, especially given that 2020 has seen Messenger usage alone increase by 50% in the places worst hit by COVID-19.
Here are my tips for navigating one of this year’s biggest updates, from capitalising on data to building a social CRM made up of users of both platforms.
1. Take a messaging-first approach to campaigns
Time and time again, Facebook’s CEO has referred to instant messaging as the future of social, and this latest update is just another indication of that.
The mistake brands make, however, is thinking this future doesn’t apply to them. It does – but you’ve got to change your thinking, especially with rumours that WhatsApp will eventually integrate with Messenger and Instagram as well.
What I mean is you’ve got to take a messaging-first approach to campaigns by either basing your campaign around a messaging mechanic or baking instant messaging into the audience’s journey, which can help to build your social CRM.
Some successful examples of this include building chatbots that act like quizzes, creating interactive digital walkthroughs or doing as Adidas did on WhatsApp when it created an exclusive group of football fans to drip-feed product releases and news to.
These are just a few examples that you can use to take your messaging efforts beyond customer service. This, by the way, will become even more important as trends like conversational engagement (marketing via instant messaging) grow in importance.
2. Start building a social CRM
While email has had a revival, email open rates still dramatically lag behind social. According to Mailchimp, the industry average for its customers is 21.33%, but compare that to Messenger which is widely quoted as having an open rate of 80-85%.
For this reason, you should take instant messaging seriously by integrating your CRM with Facebook and registering with Facebook’s new Business Suite app, which lets you respond to cross-platform customer queries in one central place.
Another major advantage of this latest update is the ability to more seamlessly deliver the same quality of customer service you offer on Messenger on Instagram, which can only mean more leads and greater trust among customers.
3. Integrate Instagram and Messenger into your data research
Social listening has added an extra dimension to market research by tracking everything from sentiment to real-time comments. But if you really want to know more about your audience, deploying a sophisticated AI bot is the way forward.
It’s here in the intimate instant messaging arena that audiences are more honest, which can lead to more in-depth insights. Bots can scrape data about users at scale, from their motivations to when they’re most active on social. But there is a trade-off.
Conversational engagement works two ways, and you’ve got to offer as much as you get back. That might mean using natural language processing to have more human conversations, or incentivising your audience to engage with your company via its DMs with offers, discounts, product launches or exclusive content.
4. Create content that’s designed to be watched together
One of the biggest updates to come off the back of Messenger’s merger with Instagram is Watch Together. Essentially, it means users will be able to co-watch content on Messenger and Instagram – including IGTV and Watch.
The main benefit is a major chance for brands to get more eyes on their content, but there is another reason to start creating content that can be enjoyed by friends.
With audiences craving shared experiences throughout lockdown and 2020, brands have an opportunity to capitalise beyond text-based instant messaging with shared video experiences like live watch-alongs, exclusive product launches and sponsored creator content.
5. Develop a more human tone of voice to build trust for the future
The Digital Human way of thinking is based on the belief that brands and businesses of all sizes should dare to be more human in a world that’s striving to be more digital.
Nowhere is that philosophy truer than within instant messaging. whether that’s through community management or an AI chatbot. Remember, people buy from people, and being human is the quickest way to build trust and advocacy.
As social commerce becomes more integral and instant messaging develops with product-focused AR experiences – as will be the case now that SparkAR creators can post to Messenger – it’ll be the human brands that prosper most in this space. Kunal Pattany is a public speaker, technology commentator and the founder and CEO of Digital Human. With 15 years’ experience in marketing for leading companies like Kantar, a WPP data and insights company, he has turned his attention to the impact of digital and AI on humans and society’s response to innovation. To find out more about Digital Human, click here. To talk with Kunal about speaking opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org 👋