Sliding into DMs is about to work a bit differently on Instagram. In September, Instagram announced that they are merging their Direct Messaging with Facebook Messenger, creating a seamless messaging experience across both platforms to help people stay connected easier. This update has already been rolled out to many areas and will bring a number of new features to the unified Messenger, such as selfie stickers, new conversation reactions, and more. Read on to learn more about the benefits, the issues, and whether or not your brand can leverage this new functionality.
First, let’s start with the positives: this makes conversations much easier. In the days of social distancing, we are relying more and more on virtual connections. Using private spaces on social media to stay connected has become an increasing trend on pretty much every platform. We all have people we like to keep up with who are active on one platform, but not the other. My mom constantly sends me memes on Facebook Messenger, which I rarely check because I’m an Instagram junkie. By the time I do eventually check my Facebook messages, it’s awkward to send a laugh reaction. With a merge in Facebook and Instagram Messengers, I will no longer have to out myself as a negligent Facebook lurker. I could delete the Facebook Messenger app or deactivate my Facebook account entirely and still be able to receive mom’s lovely memes without having to download a new app.
According to Instagram: “In our research, four out of five people who use messaging apps in the US say that spending more time connecting with friends and family on these apps is important to them, yet one out of three people sometimes find it difficult to remember where to find a certain conversation thread. With this update, it will be even easier to stay connected without thinking about which app to use to reach your friends and family.”
Facebook is also introducing new interactivity to this Messenger merge. New communication options include joining video calls from either platform, Watch Together (watch videos on Facebook Watch, IGTV, Reels, TV shows, movies, and more during a video call), Vanish Mode (choose to make messages disappear after they’re seen), selfie stickers, chat colors, custom emoji reactions, animated message effects, and more.
Though the merge will bring a new level of convenience to messaging across platforms, it also raises important concerns—namely, security and privacy. Instagram assures users that new measures are in place to help address these issues, such as messaging controls, enhanced reporting, and cross-platform blocking. As with most updates of this magnitude, there are sure to be glitches and bugs abound in the beginning phase. But if we’ve learned one thing about Facebook, it’s that they have the money and manpower to throw at their new features to ensure they succeed (or at least can’t be ignored). They’re likely to be carefully observing, listening to feedback, and tweaking to make the experience not a total failure.
Since these changes seem to be aimed towards private communications between friends and family, the big question is if your brand can leverage this new messenger integration to better communicate with consumers. Like many new developments in the ever-changing world of social media, the answer is simply: it depends.
One clear benefit is the update to the notoriously picky Instagram API. Many third-party tools such as Sprinklr, Hootsuite, etc. aren’t able to access Instagram DMs, making it necessary for social media managers to either natively respond to direct messages or ask consumers to message them on a different platform, costing either the brand or the consumer’s time and opening up potential security risks. This upgraded API can help streamline the process of answering private messages across both Facebook and Instagram, much to the delight of social media managers everywhere.
For brands not using third-party tools, this merge may not make much of a difference. Many brands are probably already familiar with Facebook Business Manager, which features an inclusive inbox of private messages from a brand’s Facebook and Instagram pages. In this case, the merge doesn’t present a huge advantage in terms of ease-of-access. However, for smaller companies lacking the social infrastructure to benefit from a Business Manager page, this messenger integration could absolutely save the time and confusion by eliminating the need to hop between apps answering customer questions.
As of right now, it’s unclear whether WhatsApp—Facebook’s incredibly popular international messaging platform—will be integrated into this Messenger mélange. If so, this would undoubtedly add a level of streamlined convenience to social media managers of global brands. On the other hand, consolidating many of the world’s most active messaging platforms into one may be a management nightmare for Facebook in the long run. As previously mentioned, Facebook will be ready to troubleshoot issues arising from the merge to alleviate user frustrations, but with all these platforms being managed under one digital roof, a single bug, leak, or outage could have a domino effect that heavily impacts the world. Of course, there’s no way to tell if this will be an issue, and Facebook has hopefully taken this into consideration already, so don’t take my word as an end-of-the-world prophecy.
So will the Instagram-Facebook Messenger Merge be the best thing to happen to your brand? Not likely. But with new functionality, improved API access, and the constant vigilance Facebook tends to pay toward its newest innovations, it certainly can’t hurt. Seeing just how much it will affect brands in the grand scheme remains to be seen, but if you want to learn more about new Facebook updates that may impact your brand, check out this post, or drop us a line here to see how we can help you succeed in social.
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