Consumers Exchange Over 2 Billion Messages With Businesses Each Month Via Facebook Messenger

'Twenty years ago, businesses scrambled to start building a web presence,' said Stefanos Loukakos, Head of Messenger, Facebook. 'Now is the time for businesses to build a presence on messenger.'

Facebook Messenger’s 1.3 billion monthly users exchange more than 2 billion messages with businesses each month — and that volume is set to increase as nearly half of Millennials now say that messaging apps are their preferred means of customer service interaction.

In a panel at Advertising Week, execs from Facebook, LiveNation, and more focused on how businesses — from global brands to local SMBs — can take advantage of this increased reliance on messaging platforms.

“Businesses are already using [messenger] to engage with their consumers in a personalized, powerful way,” said Stefanos Loukakos, Head of Messenger, Facebook. “This can be the new paradigm of how businesses communicate with their customers. Twenty years ago, they… started building a web presence; now is the time for businesses to build a presence on messenger.” But how?

Below, three takeaways from the session on how businesses can look to make personalized, one-to-one communication a reality through messenger — and subsequently drive sales.

85 percent of consumer time is spent in the top 5 apps: This includes Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. The key, Loukakos said, is to ask the question, “how can we embrace users in an environment that they’re already comfortable in?

In other words, if a brand’s native app or website sees high engagement, it could be advantageous to enable messaging or a chatbot feature there — but most of the time, consumers are more open to interacting via the platforms they use every day. For a significant majority, that’s established messaging apps.

KLM, for example, has seen success using Facebook Messenger to let people change their flight, access boarding passes, and more in one thread — just like how they’d chat with their friends.

It helps to create KPIs specific to messenger: Driving conversation through messaging apps “can be great for lead generation, great for closing sales, and great for customer service/support,” said Christian Brucculeri, CEO at Snaps. But businesses need to ask what they want to drive: Engagement? Website visits? Store visits? It doesn’t have to be all about sales, but businesses can identify which aspects of customer service can be improved through this type of communication.

Embrace chatbots — with care: Chatbots/conversational agents can make it much easier to facilitate these kind of messenger conversation that consumers increasingly want — but transparency about the fact that a bot is answering their questions or referring them to a store associate is key. As Loukakos puts it, “don’t try to do everything with a bot. Find a business objective that you want to tackle, and work towards that.”

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.