In a very little while I’d like to look at Facebook’s new communications system which was announced on Monday 15 November, its key features and what it could mean for organisations using Facebook. If you’ve not read up on this I’d suggest taking a view of this video to start of with.
First up though, three quick ways I’ve used Facebook to communicate in the past week.
Last Saturday, I tried to fix our dishwasher. I am not like Bob The Builder. He can fix things. I didn’t even have the right screwdriver. So I put an appeal out to my Facebook friends. Within minutes I had had a few sarcastic comments and a few offers of help.
The other night I was the dull one working away. Saying that, I was keeping an eye on Facebook. My wife was downstairs watching TV / on her laptop. Her updates really made me laugh. Bizarre I thought, I’m keeping in touch with what my wife’s up to via Facebook even though she’s just downstairs.
Yesterday I was on a train. I found out via Facebook on my phone that my elder brother had gone for an MRI scan on his shoulder. I could chat about it with him using Facebook.
‘What’s your point caller?’ Well, the point is, I spend sheds loads of time on Facebook! And so do millions and millions of others (500 million active users, 700 billion minutes spent on Facebook per month, 30 billion pieces of content shared each month). From the young to the old, Facebook is increasingly universal.
It is for this reason that the announcement of Facebook’s new communications system interests me.
I use Facebook more and more for conversations. Conversations with friends. Conversations with family. Conversations with organisations I’m passionate about.
From what I can tell (and I’m going on reports / videos as it isn’t yet launched in the UK and is invite only in the USA), the new system is designed to make conversations easier. And for me that’s a good thing. If it really takes off it will also be a very good thing for Facebook because they will increasingly be the facilitator and storage centre for conversations that take place online.
So what do the key features appear to be?
Multiple platform messaging: You decide how to communicate with people – SMS, chat, email (you can have an @facebook.com email address if you like) or messages. And your friends will receive the message in whatever form works for them. You just type the name. Type the message. And it all happens in real time.
Conversation history: All the conversations you have with someone will be stored in one place.
Social inbox: The example Facebook gave to bring this aspect to life was an email message from your best friend can get stuck between a bank statement and a bill. ‘With the new messages system, your inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into an Other folder where you can look at them separately.’
And what does this mean for organisations?
It’s early days and I shall report back when I’ve had a chance to have a go. However, my initial thoughts are as follows:
Play where your audience is playing: If your target audience spends time on Facebook (and the chances are they are) it makes sense for you to have a presence on Facebook. That way you have a chance to be part of the conversation.
Content is king: If you’ve got something interesting to say, people are more likely to want you to be part of the conversation. If updates from Facebook pages, go into the Other folder, perhaps (and I’m speculating here based on fact they currently go into the second tier ‘updates’ folder in messages) there will be the option to move them into the main folder. My friends entertain me. They do useful stuff for me. Organisations need to do the same if they want to have an ongoing conversation.
Media spend: Not everyone is fortunate enough to have media spend. But if you do have some funds to invest, consider running a test with Facebook. It can be incredibly targeted and can be a great way of starting conversations with people. See this biggest brands on Facebook infographic – as you’ll see, 75% of brands’ Facebook ‘likes’ come from ads.
As I say, it’s early days for Facebook’s new system and the above is based on what I’ve heard, what I’ve watched and what I’ve read – but I’d love to know if you have any thoughts / insight – why not join the conversation below?!