Earlier this week saw the much anticipated announcement of Facebook Messages, the new messaging system from social media giant Facebook. While some bloggers exploring the potential implications were quick to declare the “death of email,” most rational communicators are seeing this as an early next step in the further socialization of online communications.
So if email isn’t dead, what does Facebook Messages mean for public relations and marketing pros who use the social network? For starters….
Facebook Page Updates Now Delivered to ‘Other’ folder
Previously, when a Facebook Page admin wanted to send an update directly to their fans’ inbox the update would appear in a sub folder under ‘Messages’ titled ‘Updates.’ This is no longer the case. Under the new Facebook Messages these updates, as well as those from Facebook Groups, will appear in a folder titled ‘Other.’ See below.
What does this mean, if anything, for actual readership? While the lingo switch from ‘Updates’ to ‘Other’ certainly isn’t ideal, the real issue at hand is where Facebook decided to put your spam folder. Up until now, I’ve been unable to confirm where specifically spam messages will be delivered. If spam messages are landing in the same ‘Other’ folder as Page updates, you can rest assured your audience is never going to read it.
Quality Facebook Page Status Updates More Important Than Ever
Since the new Facebook Messages is looking like it will throw a wrench in Facebook Page fan updates, it is now more important than ever to make sure your Page Status – which appears in your fans news feed – is relevant and of interest. Couple this with the fact that Facebook recently added the “Unlike Page” option directly into fans’ news feeds, and Page Admins really ought to put together a strategy for avoiding fan loss.
It’s Easier than ever for Users to Share Your Brand
The new Messages system gives users the ability to easily forward messages, attach documents and add people to an on going conversation. While it will be harder for your brand or organization to initiate this communication (see problems outlined above) this could open itself up for campaigns where we ask our community to speak on our behalf. I could, in theory, see this working particularly well for major charitable organizations.
Get Ready to Update Your Email Lists
With 500 million users, the addition of Facebook Messages is going to be a big, big deal. Even if only a fraction of the user base adopts it we could quickly see our current email lists begin to look outdated. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve start work now on a reenlistment campaign that encourages community members to “Sign up for our mailing list with your new @Facebook.com email address.”
Social Email Could be the Death of Spam
I know, I know, you don’t spam. But those other guys, the ones that DO send irrelevant nonsense because their supervisors asked them to, THEY are in trouble. As email continues to get more social organizations that blast out communications blindly to their base will find themselves reaching even fewer fans than ever before.
When you take a detailed look at the Facebook Messages launch it really seems like a product that will largely supplement users current email set ups. However, that could change over time and with a 500 million user base nothing Facebook launches should be taken lightly.
Did I miss anything? I’d love your thoughts on what this means for you and the marketing/pr industry!