In the past year, Facebook has made significant changes to their messenger mobile app. The Facebook Messenger App, “Messenger” to many users, is an mobile application for real-time texting, voice communication, photos, animated, GIFs, audio files. Facebook also provides money transfer for person-to-person funds and also commercial transactions. The app is an impressive effort that consolidates many critical communication vehicles as well as the underpinnings of online shopping.
Facebook was also very savvy with its app strategy and has separated their core social media application from their messaging application. This has afforded them a leaning of their core product application, but also a vehicle that can competently compete with communication incumbents Skype, WeChat, and Line.
Facebook Messenger follows immediately behind Facebook in device penetration according to a recent pew study. This is fueled by a somewhat controversial decision by Facebook to require mobile users to use the app for messaging. Desktop users can chat through an integrated interface within the browser. Mobile users can initiate chat from a prompt in the Facebook Timeline app or by managing chats in an integrated chat interface.
Messaging Apps Are The New Internet
For healthcare and pharmaceutical brands, the messenger app may seem like a superfluous approach to communication. Facebook’s success with their Messenger service is their bid in what has become a critical and highly competitive market in Messaging Platforms. The messaging market, the most notable success being WeChat, is becoming a subcategory of the Internet. WeChat users, as an example of the category, can communicate with one another, have voice calls, video calls, transfer images, files, create groups and small private and public communities all through mobile and desktop interfaces. WeChat, and the category is evolving beyond the phone number and creating a whole new kind of identifier–for users and marketers.
WeChat has also begun to offer brands with a new platform to engage consumers. IN the case of WeChat, which dominates Asian markets, retailers are providing customer service almost completely through WeChat, many airlines have begun to offer bookings-including transactions-through the secure commerce solutions offered by WeChat, and many private physicians and hospitals are offering booking and consultations via the video conference features.
While the US shows a very mild interest in WeChat, Line, and other services that are incredibly popular worldwide, Facebook sees the massive opportunity that messaging platforms can offer both the consumer and marketer. Modeling their service on best-in-class apps like WeChat Facebook can provide a competitive “me-too” solution to a largely untouched market in the US.
What is your “Messaging Strategy”?
For healthcare brands Facebook has proven to be a turbulent partner. There are many success stories for healthcare and pharmaceutical brands on Facebook. I continue to be a proponent for these apps to provide value and authentic engagement with patients. For brands that are as enthusiastic as I am towards Facebook, it offers a secure channel for dialogue and an new channel for CRM that is platform agnostic and not reliant on phone numbers for verification.