Is Facebook Messenger the next big thing for brands?

The recent edition of Wired magazine carried a cover story titled, ‘Facebook’s app for everything.

This cover has a key context to it. Imagine, the potential to connect with over a billion users. To do exactly that, in March this year, Facebook launched ‘Messenger Platform’ that allowed its’ users to create their own content and more importantly connect directly with businesses using Messenger.

Clothing firm Everlane, is using Messenger to break the traditional email led online shopping experience and according to Wired, KLM Airlines will be launching soon on FB messenger.

Navin Kansal, national creative director, Indigo Consulting agrees that,” A lot of last mile brand interactions could potentially happen via the messenger framework- it would work well from a “transaction” perspective because everything becomes a conversational thread- easy to track and to close the loop. “

Kansal, however adds a note of caution saying that, “In terms of brand building and creating salience, it remains to be seen as to how the interface eventually pans out and the opt-ins that accrue as a result. Just because the tools for consumers to create and share content within the app framework will roll out, its not necessary that it will gain a big uplift from the word go for brands particularly, as users are more likely use them during their conversations with their friends. If the mobile is an intimate medium, messenger within the mobile is even more so.”   

While what Kansal says is true, the fact is that content and commerce is colliding all through the messaging world. In China, WeChat has built a successful model where you can book anything from a taxi to a doctor’s appointment and Wand Labs wants to help consumers take actions based on a messaging meets Siri like master – app . Brands are also following users on platforms such as Snapchat and Line.

It’s the content stupid!

All these changes means that content itself has several new challenges. Content has to fulfill the whole range of being large scale and interesting and micro-scale and yet, still cool. Consider the following examples. AIB created this hilarious and high quality video, “Creep Qawali” for dating app ‘Truly Madly’ weaving in a warning against men lurking in the now defunct ‘others folder’ of Facebook:

Vuclip’s Q2 2015 Global Video Insights (GVI) Survey conducted in August 2015 covering 5,000 users in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and the UAE revealed that quality was the top criteria that inspires users to share videos.

At the other end, you have Opera browser that has quirky, messaging to encourage you to rate the app.

Vijay Sankaran, director, GBM Digital Studio, commenting on good use of FB for content points out that, “Brands and agencies have a lot to learn from a page like ‘Humans of New York’ and from the amount of varied stories one person-Brandon Stanton- can discover and create by just listening to people. Among brands it has to be GE for making industrial technology interesting to the lay consumer across Social, not just Facebook.Consumer brands like Coke, Red Bull and Oreo have a much easier task.”

Navin Kansal’s advise for good content

  • Given that the organic spread on FB is minimal at best, invest in promoted posts.
  • The quality of posts therefore is more important than high frequency of posts
  • Use micro-targeting wherever possible to ensure that the communication reaches to the right audience at the right time.
  • Create a mix of content that is promotional (brand out) as well as consumer-centric (entertaining or educational-where the role of the brand is to act as an enabler or a facilitator).”

Papri Dev, managing director, Zeno India says, “FB is a key channel to consider as a part of our campaigns. If you see our last moto campaign for moto G gen 3 launch – #mymotobff it was about us being able to create content that could go across Facebook, other platforms and finally it was also used for outdoors. We are creating infographics , videos, GIFs that could be directly used as a part of core content strategy for FB with the other dimension being that it sometimes get used first through influencers and their FB platforms flowing into a consumer’s reference point via their newsfeeds.”

 Dev also flags off ‘how different countries toast around the world’ video that the Zeno US team created for a client as a favourite bit of content.

Dev says the video has subtle to no branding and was used, “across PR, social and digital to be consumed either as a part of a news story to celebrate international beer day or straight off your social network.”

PR and content

The precise role of PR and digital content is still being mapped. Says Kansal, “- PR can play a big role in putting out great content on FB provided it works towards eliciting a desired consumer response to the content. Is it illuminating? Is it moving? Is it uplifting? Is it cool? Is it surprising? Can a PR video or a story be showcased in a manner that exposes its audiences to the brand or the celebrity or the cause or the event in a way that has not been seen or heard before?  Does it tell a story that people will find interesting enough to consume? When one puts a PR story out on FB, expect feedback – be it likes or comments or shares…so one should do it in a way that mines the potential  of the medium to engage and not just publish…that’s the best metric to ensure that the content that gets put out really works.”

Sankaran believes that the best way for PR to get on top of digital content is to have , “ A digital newsroom kind of culture, of listening and collective storytelling.”

If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our weekly event and subscriber alerts.