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Is there any value in utilizing platforms like Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct Messages?

As almost everyone knows, Facebook and Instagram are totally underleveraged platforms that can help establish a lasting relationship between the business and the consumer. This leads us to the big question in this episode which is how can an online retailer utilize these platforms in sales, support and marketing without coming off as spammy?

Brands must learn to build one-on-one relationships digitally at scale; the kind of strategy that social channels are using make it easier for the consumer to touch the brand, but tougher for the brand to service that consumer. If you are on a website and have a support chat that is integrated with Facebook messenger, it’s super easy for the consumer to communicate with your business and the experience will be remembered as excellent. However, the challenge here is managing the channels and messaging to provide an excellent customer experience.

Online web applications that are able to consolidate multiple messaging channels into one platform, and reduce the need for a business to manually check each social media page make it easier to scale those interactions. But this is one of those things where the brand must recognize that the best consumer relationships are only as good as how well you manage your worst channel — it’s essential that you do it well.

This said, social platforms that are reaching out to customers through direct message create a better engagement channel than sales channel. The people and customers that a company is trying to get in touch with are most likely going to be annoyed with the message and will not listen to it if that message is asking for the consumer to take unwarranted action, such as clicking a link to a product page, or checking out a deal that the brand thinks the consumer will love, but without any justification. However, we predict that there will be some kind of integration with artificially intelligent SaaS products that learn from previous customer interactions, and are able to modify their own algorithms to ensure that future interactions are even better.

WeChat — a social platform used in China for everything like email, messaging, and phones. Facebook has been implementing some next level features that differentiates itself from other social platforms, continuing to add new features such as messenger and stories. However, unlike WeChat, Facebook is trying to silo messenger out of the platform and host Messenger as a completely different service, where WeChat is trying to integrate it all together. Marketers must recognize that the attention spent on Facebook is going to be much different than the attention spent on WeChat. A user on WeChat will likely spend more time using the app, and therefore an advertisement may be able to get away with being longer, and more immersive. However, if Facebook is splitting their newsfeed service away from their messenger service, advertisements in the news feed must be short in sweet to capture as much attention from the user as possible before they migrate to the Messenger app. Once they find themselves on the Messenger app, the brand must approach the customer to follow up on the advertisement the customer recently was exposed to on their newsfeed.

The way Facebook is making big money right now is B2B, it’s all off advertising, so if they can create a messenger product that competes with Skype or Microsoft in the business space, then everyone will be able to take up a tool that people have been using previously and are familiar with. This will help platforms make money off of a B2B perspective.

The interesting opportunities on the low end of the market lies within the scope of the company who creates artificial intelligence and bots that can drive conversation and make it seem genuine and authentic for the customer. For larger companies that have the budget for it, they can staff those tools and increase brand value and popularity because these companies will be creating a more intimate touch with their customers. Smaller companies cannot afford the luxury of hiring a mass amount of dedicated customer support reps, whose only job would be sitting in messaging platforms and interacting with customers. The software company that develops a bot that is capable of not just transferring the user to an “operator” or FAQ page, but is also capable of fulfilling product return requests, maintenance support, and product selection direction is going to be the software most implemented by these smaller companies.

Some of the bigger company’s legal teams are going to slow them down from doing that due to the fear of one-to-one communication, especially since the communication is live and cannot be censored or redacted. This gives smaller companies a good chance to out-execute the bigger companies or for the bigger companies to take some risks in order to differentiate themselves.

One extremely special interaction out of over a thousand could definitely be a tipping point capable of changing a few people’s perspectives of what a brand is willing to do to please their customer base. For example, reaching out to support channels when interacting with a company usually warrants a customer service rep responding to your request. However, if you were suddenly surprised by the CEO calling you on your personal cell phone to help you resolve your issue, you are likely to remember that interaction for a lot longer than the first one. There are opportunities for CEO’s to inject themselves into conversations there and good companies are doing that anyway.

People crave human interaction. Until bots are capable of replacing that genuine feeling, smaller companies will have the craft innovative ways to scale personal communication, especially through direct messaging apps.

If you like this post, be sure to tune into the entire episode of the podcast up above, and be sure to catch us on the next episode of The Accelerate Podcast, coming out on Friday, June 2nd.

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