13,787 We are social, The implications of Facebook’s messaging app integration

The implications of Facebook’s messaging app integration

PRWeek recently published this article by our Strategy Director in London, Caroline Lucas-Garner looking at the criticism surrounding Facebook’s plans to integrate its three messaging platforms – Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp; and what the move could mean for users and brands. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it below.

Last month’s NYTimes article on the planned integration of Facebook’s three key messaging services created a flurry of interest, from trade and mainstream press. Facebook’s statement was careful to reinforce the benefit to audiences, creating simplified and seamless messaging services.

Intuitively, there’s lots to applaud with the move – siloed technology platforms need no longer be a barrier to communication.

The theory seems to be that if I’m on Facebook Messenger and want to chat with someone who doesn’t have Messenger but does have WhatsApp, Facebook will facilitate that connection.

But how often does that happen?

From experience, people actually use each platform for very different reasons. As WhatsApp is based on my phone number, I typically use it for more intimate relationships – close friends, and family.

I’m happy to chat with distant friends or those I share an interest with via Groups on Messenger using my name, but am reluctant to share my mobile number with them.

In light of this, it’s not unreasonable that the initial story has been met with cynicism and criticism as another example of a developer putting their desire to regenerate their own platform above the real needs of the audience.

Given that Facebook is still facing scrutiny over the historic treatment of user data – which sparked movements such as #DeleteFacebook – the timing of this announcement can’t be ideal for them.

It seems their hand was forced by aggrieved insiders leaking the news. Creating stronger links between platforms has been a bone of contention before, being one of the key reasons for the departures of both the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp last year.

This latest leak suggests that mutually satisfactory resolutions are yet to be found.

The NYT article suggests the initiative is a pet project of Mark Zuckerberg himself, leading us to speculate that his intentions are less noble than facilitating seamless communication for audiences, and more about reasserting Facebook’s dominance within the social ecosystem.

The key issue worrying employees and users alike centres on the handling and potential sharing of user data across the platforms.

Privacy and encryption were the founding principles of WhatsApp, so the prospect of diluting this is a real worry for the platform and risks abandonment by nervous users.

On the other hand, the prospect of bringing Facebook Messenger and Instagram up to par with WhatsApp’s encryption levels can be no bad thing.

There are also potentially positive implications for brands through more effective targeted advertising across the platforms, driving deeper engagement alongside powerful reach.

Regulators may also have concerns around tightening relationships across platforms.

With grumblings of a Facebook monopoly when the three platforms were initially brought under one ‘roof’, experts worry that a more integrated service would make it harder for competition commissioners to challenge Facebook and separate the platforms, if it was deemed necessary.

So, is this the light at the end of the dark social tunnel for brands, or the death knell for user privacy? We’ll find out next year.

The post The implications of Facebook’s messaging app integration appeared first on We Are Social.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #433

Facebook allows Pages to participate in Groups 
Facebook is letting brands and publishers in on its Groups action. Group activity around shared interests is increasingly a core focus for the company but, before now, company involvement has been via personal accounts of people in a business, or by Pages starting their own Group. Facebook’s new tools allow brand Pages (a cool 90 million of them) to join and participate in private Groups when granted access. The move has been neatly justified by Facebook with this statement: “When we talk about Groups, we are talking about community,” says Alex Himel, VP of business products at Facebook. “In the real world, businesses are part of the community.”

Facebook Messenger adds unsend feature 
Facebook Messenger will now allow you to ‘unsend’ messages – an update promised by the platform nearly a year ago. Simply tap on the offending message and select “remove”. Even five pints down you should be able to manage that, right? It won’t help any night-before-drunken-texting regret though – you only have 10 minutes to change your mind.

Facebook and Instagram replies to be synced for businesses 
A new update from Facebook will allow businesses to receive and respond to Instagram messages from customers on their Facebook page inbox. The move helps integrate the ‘family’ of platforms closer together while eliminating the need for admins to switch back and forth between the two services to manage replies. The option will first roll out to businesses in the U.S. and Brazil. This, of course, follows the high profile news that Facebook is aiming to create a seamless messaging service for users across various apps including Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook adds more clarity to adverts 
In its latest transparency move, Facebook will add more detailed explanations of ads for users, in cases when custom audiences built from customer files were used. From 27th February, The ‘Why am I seeing this?’ explanation will include the name of the business that uploaded the user’s information to Facebook. It will also cover any other sharing of custom audiences that may have taken place and involvement from agencies, Facebook Marketing Partners or other partners.

Facebook migrates campaigns to automated budget allocation system
Facebook has announced that new and existing campaigns will be migrated to its automated campaign budget allocation system, that optimises the campaign budget across an advertiser’s ad sets. This means that advertisers will have limited control over budgets at the ad-set level, only able to set minimum and maximum spend limits. The move has been pitched by Facebook as giving advertisers better value by distributing a campaign budget based on the best performing ads, but it also results in less control for advertisers.

Instagram hides Stories view list after 24 hours
Good news for wannabe Insta-stalkers, as the users of the platform are now unable to see viewer lists on their Stories after 24 hours. People are furious! Obviously! Apparently this feature is essential for checking if ex-partners or potential love interests are keeping tabs on you – but now you have to be quick to look, before the Story moves into the archive. One solution is to have less friends – takes me all of 10 seconds to memorise my Story views. Try it.

Instagram adds IGTV previews to feed 
IGTV in your FACE FEED! That’s right, because basically no-one is watching IGTV, Instagram will now add one-minute IGTV previews to the feed, making it “even easier” to discover and watch its content. Ahh, thanks Instagram. Too kind.

Instagram to add charity donation sticker in Stories 
Instagram Stories plans to add a donation sticker to allow monetary contributions directly through the app. Sorry influencers – it’s not a new money making tool; the sticker can only be used by registered nonprofit organisations. There will be no processing fee and the full amount of the donation will go towards the organisation using the sticker.

Facebook closes youth projects, focuses on Messenger Kids 
Facebook is closing several projects from its youth team, including the LOL app, which was in beta testing and High School Networks for Messenger. The platform said it’s shifting the team’s focus to Messenger Kids, which launched in December 2017. The controversial app must be set up by parents, who maintain full control over it via a Messenger Kids controls panel. It’s designed to give kids under 13 access to basic Messenger features such as one-on-one or group chats and video chats and sharing photos and videos.

Facebook boosts AI capabilities with GrokStyle acquisition 
Facebook has acquired GrokStyle Inc. – a visual shopping and artificial intelligence startup. You may have seen GrokStyle’s technology in action – it was used in Ikea’s mobile app; a user would take a picture of furniture and the technology would match it to similar products that could be purchased online. Facebook could be planning to use the tech in its buying and selling area, Marketplace and it’s also part of a bigger push into AI for the platform.

Snapchat’s Q4 results show it’s losing less 
Who’s the biggest loser? Not Snapchat! Some decent Q4 results for the platform, with daily users staying flat at 186 million – no drops like Q1-Q3 last year. It also reached record revenue of $390 million, up 36 percent year-over-year and beating Wall Street’s $378 million estimate. While the platform is still loss making, it’s getting better at losing less, according to CEO Evan Spiegel: “This limited our Q4 losses to just 13 percent of our revenue, compared to just one year ago when our Q4 losses totaled more than 50 percent of revenue”. Just imagine – in a couple of years it might even be profitable! Exciting stuff.

Twitter’s Q4 results show user loss struggle 
A different picture for Twitter with its Q4 results, also out last week. It made its first annual profit in 2018, but rather than celebrating, all focus is on the platform’s loss of users. Twitter had 321 million monthly active users in Q4, down five million from the prior quarter and nine million from the same period a year ago. It’s the third consecutive quarter of user declines. Fortunately, Twitter has found a foolproof solution to this issue – stop giving out user numbers. In its earnings report, Twitter said it plans to stop disclosing the monthly active user number after the first quarter of this year in favour of a newly introduced figure on “monetizable” daily active users.

Periscope adds group streams for talk show-style experience 
Twitter’s live streaming app Periscope has launched a new feature, allowing small groups of up to three people to join a live stream from their phones. It’s currently audio-only, though the platform hopes to add a video option in the future. VP of product for Twitter, Kayvon Beykpour, explains: “With this launch, we’re enabling richer conversations by allowing viewers to call in, like a talk show, and join with their voice. This makes live conversations even more fluid, and allows for new possibilities and ways people can have conversations.”

LinkedIn hits 610 million members, publishes eBook 
LinkedIn now has more than 610 million ‘professionals’ spamming complaininginteracting on the platform. If you’re one of them and you haven’t got a clue what to do there, or why someone you met once six years ago has now ‘endorsed’ your social media skills, it might be time for some light reading in the form of the platform’s new eBook. You’re welcome.

Pinterest makes ‘Shop the Look’ Pins fully automated 
‘Discovery tool’ (not social network) Pinterest is focused on direct shopping and search experiences and its latest tool boosts on this proposition. Its ‘Shop the Look’ Pins have been around since 2017, identifying specific items within a Pin image using machine learning and human moderation, and connecting users to purchase pages for each relevant product. The latest build fully automates the ‘Shop the Look’ process, using Pinterest’s advanced image identification. Businesses will still be able to link their products to relevant objects, but Pinterest will also be able to do much of the work without intervention.

Reddit hunts for loose change
Reddit, the self proclaimed front page of the internet, is reportedly looking to raise $150 million to $300 million in forthcoming Series D funding. Chinese tech giant Tencent is said to be the major player involved and Reddit’s post-money valuation could reach a mind blowing $3 billion. Reddit continues to grow, with 330 million monthly active users on its 150,000 Subreddits. If you’d like to see a great example of how organisations could be using Reddit, check out our recent work on the platform here.

230 new emojis approved for 2019 
Flamingo, Otter, Guide Dog and Slot are all on the final emoji list for 2019. It’s now been approved by the Unicode Consortium; 230 new emojis will be coming to major platforms this year. Happy face.

Watch the Video

There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019
ICYMI – We Are Social’s Digital in 2019 Report is out. It’s been featured in The GuardianMetroThe Next Web and more. All the Digital stats you’ll ever need – until next year!

Always brilliant, if you love data and digital consumption trends… (who doesn’t?!) ➡ The last digital and social year in numbers thanks to @wearesocial 📊👍 https://t.co/d1f8HLI0xS

— rowan kerekrobertson (@row) February 4, 2019

The post We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #433 appeared first on We Are Social.

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