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Facebook and Chat Software – New Directions for Business

 

Facebook is on the verge of making rapid, radical changes.  The social media giant has been big news in 2018. First with the announcement of the change of direction for the company and now facing significant security breaches. Last Sunday, Facebook took out full page ads in seven British newspapers and three American ones apologising for the privacy scandal.  It certainly raises concerns for businesses being on the social platform and to consider other options to connect with customers online.

In January, Mark Zuckerberg announced the purpose of Facebook was undergoing a major change.  Feedback from users was that posts from businesses, brands and media were crowding out personal moments.  Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the goal of Facebook will change from helping users find relevant content to helping users have more meaningful social interactions.  For businesses this means that less priority will be placed on business posts in Facebook so there will be less exposure in news feeds for businesses. Greater priority will be given to content that promotes more meaningful interactions between users.  

Businesses will have to revamp their Facebook strategy to keep apace with this announcement.  Businesses will now receive less exposure and traction on their Facebook posts into newsfeeds of potential customers.  This article will make some recommendations on what businesses can do in response to these major events affecting Facebook.  Even if you don’t have a Facebook page the recommendations provide an alternative to business publishing online promotions at minimal cost.

How will the recent Facebook changes affect businesses?

The eight (8) major changes affecting businesses on the Facebook platform include:

  • Preference will be given to posts that create interactions between people not between pages and people.
  • Posts with long comments of more than a sentence will be given priority viewing in newsfeeds, as they encourage interaction between users.  Businesses could experiment with commenting from their personal profile rather than from the business page as Facebook may consider this to be an interaction between users.
  • Live videos will be given preference as it stimulates conversations.
  • These changes will apply to all Facebook pages personal, business and group pages.
  • Pages that post frequently, like 2 -3 times a day, are less likely to obtain traction. Marketing Specialists are advising businesses to post less frequently with quality content maybe only once a week.
  • Images with quotes, Gif’s and competition posts will not be displayed on news feeds.
  • Links to pages outside Facebook like blogs are also unlikely to be seen.
  • Any posts with engagement bait ie. competitions or inviting people to comment are likely to be removed by Facebook and not given any exposure.

How can Business promote through Facebook?

Facebook has advised that the paid advertising portal will not change.  This is one of the last avenues left for businesses to get traction in Facebook – what a surprise!  So Facebook want businesses to pay for getting any exposure. The organic reach option will no longer be readily available for businesses. The push is to move businesses towards paid advertising.  

It will be important for businesses to ensure the advertising content published on Facebook is of high quality to obtain strong exposure, particularly as they are now paying for it.  This is in line with Facebook goals, as they want content to be more meaningful to their users. So if businesses are now re-directed towards paid advertising obviously Facebook is going to experience a surge in this income stream.  Many marketing analysts are stating that it is likely that the cost of advertising will also increase with the demand, as Facebook won’t want their platform flooded with advertising.

Businesses can consider an Alternative

One of the most under-utilised platforms for businesses is the use of instant messaging applications.  Consider how you now communicate with your loved ones and friends, even business associates. Are you using more messaging apps?  Apps like Messages, Facebook Messenger, What’s App, Skype, Snapchat, Chat2 etc. In 2016, 1.58 billion mobile users accessed the top messaging apps to communicate.  This figure is projected to escalate to 2.48 billion users in 2021 as shown in the graphic below.

In 2016, more than 1 billion people used Facebook Messenger each month (Facebook internal data), that is a staggering statistic and demonstrates Facebook Messenger has been leading the way as an instant messaging application.  Though the effect of the “Delete Facebook campaign” is yet to be seen for the social media giant.

Connecting with customers through Facebook messenger opens up a whole new opportunity.  Why is this? Facebook messenger is an exceptionally powerful tool in that as soon as a customer interacts with Facebook messenger, they have immediately given the business the permission to contact them again in the future.  You can add them to your contact lists and grow your business.

Another instant message application businesses can consider if you don’t want all business conversations known to Facebook or don’t have a Facebook page is Chat Software.  So maybe consider getting your prospective customers off the Facebook platform and onto your own communication channel. This removes the Facebook control and puts you back in command of your data and information.

Chat software is a simple piece of code added to the business website from which the business can start chatting with online customers directly.  Most live chats are started with an invite into chat that pops up on the website. Some live chat software have an option to link directly into Facebook Messenger where a copy of the messages are taken from messenger into the live chat software, like Chat2.  So you can see the exact conversation in messenger and the live chat software.

How Can Businesses Get Website Browsers into Messenger or Chat?

If you are using live chat software – you can easily grab the attention of your website visitor by setting up auto chat invitations that prompt a visitor into chat.  Research has shown with this invitation – visitors are 3 times more likely to chat. At Chat2 we set up auto chat invitations for our new customers to make the transition into chatting as smooth as possible.  

Businesses can also run Facebook advertisements with a direct link into Facebook Messenger or live chat, they can offer discounts/ specials/ enticements if a customer connects through a chat application on their own web or Facebook page. Facebook also offers local awareness advertisements to reach as many people around a business location, so the advertisement appears to a person in close proximity to your business.  The link in the advertisement can direct them into the chat software.

How does Instant Messaging Apps Grow a Business?

When an online visitor uses the chat or an instant messenger interface, the business can obtain the person’s name and location, and with Facebook messenger their gender, profile photo and email.  If the chat software is integrated into Facebook messenger, then a list starts to generate from all visitors that have interacted with the business and is captured within the chat software. Automatically this is growing business by building the contact list.  

Once a client interacts in Facebook messenger, a business has immediately been given permission to contact that client again in the future. This is exceptionally powerful as it gives permission to the business to contact that client again within a 24 hour window offering other promotions, specials and discounts from your business.  At the time of writing, the cost to access this advertising channel is $0. Though I am sure it won’t be long before Facebook charge for this opportunity, so I advise to embrace it while there is such a great return on investment.

There is one concern when directing customers into Facebook messenger and that is the Facebook giant has access to your business conversations and information contained in a chat.  It is a valid concern, particularly in light of recent news. One way around this is to redirect your visitor back to your website where they can chat with the business directly through live chat software. Many businesses have chosen the live chat software option to avoid sharing business conversations with Facebook. Though there are still many who are sacrificing this confidentiality in order to have access to the powerful Facebook messenger.

 

How can Chatbots help business growth?

Just last year Facebook also allowed for chatbots to be added into messenger.  For those who are not familiar with chatbots – it’s a software application that attempts to act like a human answering questions on your website in a pop up box. At this stage, bots are primarily used to answer simple questions and share basic information. Though this technology is improving at rapid speed and eventually visitors will only be conversing with chat bots.  

Some live chat software have incorporated Chatbots as an option.  So the chatbot can be developed to greet customers initially into the instant messaging application albeit messenger or a live chat software,  but when the questions are too hard or too technical, they have the option to chat with a real person. The purpose of a chatbot is to provide answers quickly, though sometimes they are not the answers the customer is looking for, as the technology still has some way to go before it can determine the intent of the visitor chatting.

I would like to ask the question – how comfortable are you to have your questions answered by a robot?  Or do you prefer to have a real person attending to your enquiries?

At Chat2 we are finding that consumers of this generation are still not quite ready for long conversations with Chatbots.  They still want to be able to speak with a real person. They don’t want to go through menus and menus of items before finding the answer they are looking for, they want personal assistance immediately, they want their questions answered now.  That was the whole reason for going into the messenger or chat app.

It was this demand for the human element still within an instant messaging application that the Chat2 concierge team evolved. At Chat2 our clients have the option to use real people, chat bots or a combination of both.  Businesses can answer their own chats if they prefer, or if they are too busy they can use the professional Chat2 Concierge team to answer chats. The Chat2 Concierge team are a team of real people answering chats for many businesses around the world achieving 70 – 80% conversion rates in chat. An option that is gaining in popularity is the Chat2 Hybrid with chatbots and Concierge being offered to the website visitor at the initial start of a chat.

I am expecting when our generation of teenagers form the majority of consumers with purchasing power, there won’t be any hesitation  with interacting with robots. The generational shift will happen and as the technology develops further, we will eventually see intelligent robots serving customers online – but surely there will still be the need for a little human touch.

I welcome you to experience the Chat2 Chatbot to gain insights into the power of this tool for your business. Click here to start a chat with our Chat2 Chatbot.  Have a chat and tell us what you think!

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