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Facebook reveals the six Messenger trends to watch in 2018

Facebook's head of Messenger, David Marcus, has listed some predictions on "what’s to come for messaging after a momentous 2017, including hitting 1.3 billion people using Messenger monthly and 13 million just in Australia".

The highlights from Marcus "include what he sees in store for messaging and Messenger this year, such as":

Customer service: We're told that "messaging has now become a preferred way for people to communicate with businesses to get things done and learn more about the brand", and that the company has seen "businesses look to Messenger as a Customer Care channel, but we’ll see more creative ways that will evolve Messenger into a true Customer Care channel in 2018".

Messaging as a marketing channel: Here Facebook tells us that "Businesses large and small are already turning to messaging to create a unique and effective experience – whether it's a live chat functionality or something more complex like a complete Platform experience on Messenger that can reach more people at scale.

"In 2017, Messenger saw big brands (LEGO, Katy Perry, and Apple Music) look to Messenger which signals its acceptance as an effective and unique channel."

The full list of predictions, as written by David Marcus, are listed below, and can also be seen at Facebook here

Marcus starts off by noting that, in 2017, "we crossed some significant milestones like the 1.3 billion strong community actively using Messenger every month".

"We've also seen businesses and services becoming more active on the Messenger Platform – over 200,000 bots are now live, and businesses currently drive traffic at scale to their Messenger experiences thanks to click-to-Messenger ads and our recently introduced Messages Objective.

"We've also seen changes in how you communicate with friends and family — the rise of visual communication has been key with over 500 billion emojis and 18 billion GIFs sent — that's a lot of (insert hearts and thumbs up).

"There were 17 billion video chats on Messenger for the year – twice as many as compared to 2016. With AR filters and effects, plus the ability to get together in one-on-one and group video chats (for up to 50 people at a time!), you were connecting with voice and video calling more than ever before. And over 100 million people interacted with M suggestions in November alone, across 10 countries and four languages. We achieved a lot but we have so much more to do," continues Marcus.

He goes on to state: "Now we're setting our sights on 2018 to make Messenger the best way to spend time together when you’re apart, or to make plans to spend more time together in the real world. We want to make Messenger the best way to organise a night out with friends, do your homework, or simply connect with the people you care about via text, photo, video, or real-time audio or video.

"We want you to be able to dream about a vacation with family and friends and plan it all in one place. We want you to save time and effort when communicating with businesses, and make payments even simpler."

So, here's Marcus' sneak peek of what Facebook Messenger is thinking about for 2018:

1. Realtime FTW!

"2017 saw voice and video chat truly take off. This year, you'll see us continue investing in real time communications to make sure that no matter where you are, you can easily stay connected to your loved ones. No one wants to miss a special moment, but real time communication is what connects us in times of crisis too... and we unfortunately saw more than our share of that last year. At Messenger, we want to make sure you can celebrate a cousin's engagement from the other side of the world as well as make sure your friend is safe after a natural disaster."

2. Doing more together

"We are all social beings. And group chats make it easier for us to spend time together both on and offline. That's where our everyday human interactions happen. We coordinate real life get together, we hash out our opinions on the latest news of the day, we dissect our favourite TV shows, and we replay and relive key sports moments. There are many ways we can make groups better. Identity is built in – it's all about people, not phone numbers.

"Blazing fast ways to share photos and videos — incidentally our photo quality is better than ever (4k!) — plus ways to upgrade group chat into live video group chat. Messenger group chats already have lots of features like the ability to react to an individual message, the option to mention someone, add and remove people seamlessly, customisation tools – but we have more in store for this year. Messenger is cross-platform and truly global, and we think it's the best way to find anyone you want to talk to amongst the 1.3 billion people who use it every month — old friends or new — and bring them into the conversation. Oh, and did I mention you don't need someone's phone number to add them to a group?"

3. Simplify to delight

"Over the last two years, we built a lot of capabilities to find the features that continue to set us apart. A lot of them have found their product market fit; some haven’t. While we raced to build these new features, the app became too cluttered. Expect to see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year."

4. Getting way more visual

"Though visual messaging has been around for a while, it really started to reach ubiquity in 2017. I predict visual messaging will fully explode in 2018; people will expect a super fast and intuitive camera, video, images, GIFs, and stickers with almost every conversation.

"Even in the workplace where conversations can be more serious, we see people embracing emojis and video to help drive a point home. Not only will you see more from Messenger in visual messaging this year, but this is where the industry is heading, and we won't be looking back."

5. Customer service will transform into customer care

"Calling a business ranks pretty high up on the list of things we don't want to do on any given day. But as messaging becomes more popular as an additional channel for immediate, personal customer service, the expectations and experiences have started to meet in the middle – introducing messaging as a true Customer Care channel.

"In traditional Customer Service interactions, most people have simple, basic questions they want to ask and have answered. Messaging has now become a preferred way for people to communicate with businesses to get things done, and sometimes learn a little more about the brand. According to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, 56% of people surveyed would rather message a business than call customer service, and 67% expect to message businesses even more over the next two years.

"And while calling still plays a prominent role in customer service, this has opened the door for brands and businesses to communicate with their customers in a variety of new ways to not only respond to issues or one-off questions, but to offer an up-sell opportunity to benefit both people and the business. Look for more creative ways that we'll evolve Messenger as a true Customer Care channel in 2018, but even more importantly, this is clearly where the industry is moving as it not only benefits the growth of the business, but frees up Customer Care agents to support the business in other, more productive ways."

6. Messaging as a marketing channel: no longer “if” but “when”

"People expect to find businesses with some sort of messaging experience - whether it's a live chat functionality or something more complex like a complete platform experience on Messenger. But over the last year, we've heard from more and more marketers that they know that messaging is the next great channel - but how do they get started?

"We've been encouraged to see that bigger brand names are bringing a presence to Messenger (LEGO, Katy Perry, and Apple Music) which signals the acceptance from CMOs that it's time to create a unique and effective experience that can reach more people at scale. Look for investment in rich messaging experiences not only from global brands, but small businesses who need to be creative and nimble to stay competitive."

Marcus continues by stating that "2017 was a challenging year for all kinds of reasons. I’m happy that despite all the things that sometimes divide us, we still mainly want to connect and genuinely spend quality time with one another".

"Ultimately," Marcus concludes, "we want to make Messenger the easiest and most delightful way for people to spend time together in happy and harder times. That's the impact the Messenger team wants to make at scale, and I’m optimistic we will deliver in 2018. Thank you for being part of our community. We look forward to making our product better for you this year."


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.


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