Last year, Facebook launched its Messenger app to try to connect people with their friends and family on a more exclusive level. Users found out that if you used the mobile app, you would no longer be able to send messages through Facebook. Instead, you’d be prompted to download and install a separate Messenger app in order to proceed.
While many conformed and downloaded the app, others (like me) refused to do so. I didn’t want to install yet another app on my phone and thought it was ridiculous you need two of them just to use Facebook. About a year has gone by, and I’m perfectly fine ignoring the prompt that pops up whenever I try to message someone (which isn’t often, thankfully).
Now, however, Facebook has decided to up the ante and has announced that there will be a business feature for the app. With “Businesses on Messenger,” Facebook users will be able to connect with businesses that are also using the app. If you purchase something from a participating business, the app will allow you to review your purchase order, track your shipping, get updates on featured products, and communicate with the business directly. Theoretically, the app will let you forgo customer service calls and emails and let you give you an easy way to ask questions and get answers.
Zulily, a web retailer, is one of the first businesses to partner with Facebook on the app. “Our customers are passionate advocates of our brand, and we have developed an emotional connection with them,” said Dave Atchison in a Forbes article. Atchison is the senior vice president of marketing for Zulily and believes the app will help the business build connections, since the majority of their North American orders are placed via mobile.
Facebook has been pushing into the e-commerce world ever since 2009, when it launched its Ads program that encouraged businesses to expand their presence. Just recently, the social media platform introduced an Ads Manager app to help businesses manage their ads on the go and now, has furthered its drive for e-commerce even with Businesses on Messenger.
So what does this mean for Facebook? Could the Messenger app be the next big platform? It already allows its users to chat, share content (even content from outside apps), send each other money, make voice calls, pinpoint their location for others, and in the near future, connect with businesses. Will we soon be its own addictive game? Or fitness tracker? I guess we’ll have to wait and see…