2019’s been quite a year for Facebook up until this point, and much of that has been driven by Facebook’s plans around messaging (and ongoing privacy issues but let’s table that for now).
This year we learned of Facebook’s plans to merge messaging across Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger to allow any user on one platform to message another user on the other platform seamlessly. Then Mark Zuckerberg released his manifesto promising a “privacy-focused” social network emphasizing messaging between close friends and messaging encryption.
These announcements paired with Facebook’s latest earnings calls point to three things Facebook will be focused on: messaging, Stories and premium video content on Watch.
That’s a pretty sizable shift for the company, which has been built on serving public content in user feeds. That feed, however, has grown less attractive as teens move to Stories, users at large move to messaging and News Feeds become more tarnished by the spread of misinformation.
It’s time for marketers to get ready because no matter how much Facebook shoots itself in the foot, it’s not going away any time soon.
Test Messaging Ads
Facebook’s been rolling out out ads across its messaging services for some time, and it’s time marketers start getting used to playing in the space because it’s a different environment than the News Feed. Don’t shift the budget entirely to messages, but test, learn and optimize from the experience. Beyond that, start engaging with customers there. Start with customer service and then expand from there. If Facebook does shift to a more private messaging future, messages will be front-and-center.
Speak in Stories.
Connecting with consumers through Stories is a different proposition than the News Feed, and advertisers need to be ready to take advantage of the ephemeral, full-screen but highly skippable ad format. As Facebook moves its users out of the News Feed to more ephemeral one-to-one and one-to-few environments like messages and Stories, advertisers have no choice but to meet them there. Learn to speak the Stories language.
This Isn’t Facebook Scaling Back. It’s Facebook Scaling Up.
Facebook’s shift is following a well-trodden path set forth first by WeChat in Asia. WeChat isn’t just a messaging platform. It’s where news is consumed, purchases are made, games are played and entertainment is experienced. WeChat is the digital hub of more than one billion daily users, so if Facebook’s going to emulate any platform, WeChat makes a lot of sense. It’s easy to see Facebook’s moves as scaling back and thinking smaller. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If WeChat is Facebook’s inspiration, it sees itself playing a much bigger role in the lives of users.