Zuckerberg Talks Messenger Business for Better Customer Service
Thanks in part to having acquired dozens of companies since it launched in 2004, Facebook is now "a family of apps" rather than a single outlet for social networking, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday during the opening keynote at the company's F8 developers' conference in San Francisco. And that family is growing even bigger with Facebook's launch of Messenger Platform and Messenger Business.
Aimed at the 600 million users of Facebook's instant messaging application, Messenger Platform will come with more than 40 new apps for communicating with friends and family with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and other enhancements. And it's no problem if the person on the receiving end hasn't installed one of the apps used in a message: the new platform offers a quick, one-tap option to install a new app without having to leave Messenger.
Messenger Business, meanwhile, is designed for online retailers that want to enable more streamlined and smoothly flowing communications with customers during the browsing, buying, shipping and delivery processes. Rather than having to send out separate e-mails to confirm each stage of a purchase, shops that use Messenger Business will be able to send customers real-time and personalized updates and push notifications all through the Messenger app.
Aiming for Increased App Engagement
Ahead of today's announcement about Messenger Platform, Facebook had been working with over three dozen developers to roll out a slew of new Messenger-integrated apps. The platform is now open to all developers who want to create software for use on Messenger.
Among the new Messenger apps already available are offerings from ESPN, Imgur, Legend, Talking Tom and The Weather Channel. Other additions include Action Movie FX that lets users add special effects to the videos they shoot; Bitmoji for "your own personal emoji"; the FlipLip Voice Changer; Meme Generator; and the to.be Augmented Reality Camera.
"With Messenger Platform, developers may also see increased app engagement: If the person receiving the message already has the app installed, they'll be able to tap Reply on an image in a message," Facebook Product Manager Lexy Franklin wrote today in a blog post. "Then, instead of scrolling through pages of apps on their phone, they'll be taken directly to the app to re-engage and respond with relevant content."
A 'New Wave of Expression'
At the start of the opening day F8 keynote address, Zuckerberg said his company's goal over the next few years is to enable everybody to connect in a variety of ways through Facebook's large and growing family of applications, interactive tools and, eventually, virtual reality offerings. By building upon the new Messenger Platform, developers can help with "unleashing this new wave of expression," he said.
After Zuckerberg, Vice President of Messaging Products David Marcus took to the stage to demonstrate how Messenger Business will make it possible for a consumer to, for example, order a shirt from an online retailer, follow the shipment's progress on a map in real time and easily send a follow-up message to the store to request the same shirt in another color. The first two retail partners to come on board with Messenger Business are Everlane and Zulily. To be launched in the coming weeks, the new integrations will be supported through live chat via Zendesk, according to Facebook.
Next, Ilya Sukhar, CEO and Co-founder of Parse -- a mobile app platform acquired by Facebook in 2013 -- appeared to talk about how Parse has enabled the development of many of Facebook's apps and, eventually, will also help to promote the Internet of Things.
Deborah Liu, Facebook's Director of Platform, followed Sukhar to announce new updates to Facebook's commenting and video plugins. Rolling out first in beta with a select group of partners, the new commenting plugin will integrate comments on partner Web sites so they also appear on Facebook at the same time. And Facebook's new embedded video player, available to everyone as of today, makes video sharing easier and "dramatically increases the potential reach of your content," Liu said.