Facebook is priming the pump for brands to go big on Messenger.
A week before Facebook is expected to announce ads in its messaging service, the social network is rolling out new ways for brands to get in front of the now 900 million people who use Messenger each month.
For starters, Messenger is adopting Twitter-like usernames to make it easier for people to find one another, or to find brands, on Messenger. To make things even easier, Messenger is introducing Snapchat-like image codes that people can take pictures of with their phones in order to immediately connect with a person or brand on Messenger. And brands seeking a more old-school approach or a desktop audience can now use unique links that point people directly to their Messenger profiles.
Brands will be able to get their hands on these Messenger Links by adding their Messenger username to the URL m.me/____, and they can put the specialized links anywhere: on a brand’s site, in a TV ad, on a billboard and so on.
Over the past year, Facebook has put a lot of effort into introducing brands to its Messenger audience. With Messenger for Business, it began letting retailers send order receipts and manage customer service requests through Messenger. That has expanded into people being able to do things like book an Uber ride or a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight by IMing the brands’ Messenger profiles. And Facebook has integrated Messenger into brands’ Pages so that people can click a link on the page to message the brand through Messenger.
It’s unclear how many people are using Messenger to get in touch with brands. It can be a weird transition to go from using Messenger to chat with friends and family to using Messenger to check an order status. To make things less weird, Facebook is going to let brands create customizable Greetings that will appear when someone first connects with a brand on Messenger. These “nice to meet you” notes can be used to give people a sense of why they would want to communicate with a brand on Messenger and how they can go about doing that.