Why Facebook Messenger matters for B2B marketers

Mary Meeker’s latest report highlighted the rise of messenger app usage (and the Facebook gap). This slide was particularly telling:

2016 Internet Trends slide 104

Notice the results: a 20x increase in messages received by Hyatt. This is significant, and important. People are extremely comfortable using Facebook Messenger to engage with companies. A few other items to notice:

  • Hyatt only started offering this in November last year ie it is only 6 months ago – and thus a very new trend
  • The response was rapid ie within a month – it wasn’t a slow build

You may be tempted to dismiss the finding, especially if you aren’t in the hotel business. I’ve had two customers do that this past week. They (understandably) say:

‘But we’re not a hotel chain, we’re a B2B technology company – IT Managers and CIOs don’t want to interact with us via Facebook Messenger’

This is limited thinking. And dangerous. You can be sure that IT Managers and CIOs are interacting with Hyatt via Facebook Messenger, so why wouldn’t they want to interact with other (perhaps all) companies in the same way?

It’s not just the *young kids* who are using Messenger (although it may well be the majority at the moment). Everyone (and I mean everyone) is getting familiar with Facebook[1] in Western societies[2]. You need to be interacting with your prospects in the manner they find most comfortable.

An additional consideration: currently Facebook Messenger interaction is associated as being part of Customer Service. Prospects often prefer talking to customer service because the think they’ll get answers, as opposed to marketing guff (from marketers) and sales pressure (from ‘business development managers’). This won’t last long once marketing departments jump on the messenger trend.

As ebook fatigue sets in and prospects no longer want to fill in forms on landing pages, the shift to chat options, particularly messenger channels that have identity[3] built in, will be rapid. Many will be taken by surprise, especially if they miss the opportunity.

Now’s the time to take advantage of the shift.


[1] Note that there is a big difference between Facebook user demographics and Facebook Messenger demographics, but finding reliable data to compare them is difficult. For the purposes of this post I’m possibly conflating them too much – so keep that in mind.

[2] In non-western locations, obviously you’d need to embrace the platforms that are prevalent there. This is especially important for multinationals who service multiple cultures eg country needs to have it’s own clear understanding of the best communication channels.

[3] The days of having to fill in chat popups with lots of identity stuff before you can even interact are fast disappearing. If you don’t have identity easily integrated you’re adding a hurdle to interaction.

Website engagement and Google rankings

Thought provoking article by Larry Kim about how Google may (or may not) use web site dwell time as an indirect ranking signal.

Summary: there’s some correlation items, and personal viewpoints added, but nothing is concrete. That’s not to say it isn’t actionable – just thinking about how to improve your site engagement, and then implementing improvements, can only be a good thing.

As is often the case with well written articles, the comments have further gems. Consider for example the concerns raised by Mark Traphagen and then Larry’s response. Both really useful.

The Facebook Gap

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report is always fascinating reading/viewing. There’s tons to go through, but here’s 3 quick notes about Facebook.

1. The Gap

The Facebook logo has to be on the left because the dot is right at the end of the axis. Facebook owns Instagram (as you know) and thus the gap between Facebook dominance and anything else is massive.

2016 Internet Trends slide 73

(As Ben Thompson noted Facebook is doomed. Yep.)

2. The Gap again

It’s a Snapchat and Facebook world:

2016 Internet Trends slide 90

3. The Opportunity of the Gap

Lest you think that Facebook is just for those youngens… here’s a look at how businesses are incorporating Facebook into their communication channels:

2016 Internet Trends slide 104

Instagram is a news source apparently

Fascinating insights (as always) from Pew Research with this piece covering how social network users get their news.

If I were to ask you which social media platforms you thought most people got their news from what would you say?

Facebook – yes, of course
Twitter – you’d suspect so
LinkedIn – absolutely

That would be my three.

Here’s what the Pew Research survey found:

Pew Research finding

Yes, Reddit was the clear winner, then Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn was way down, just above Snapchat. Yes, Snapchat.

But perhaps most surprising of all (to me at least) was Instagram coming in there at number #5, ahead of both YouTube and LinkedIn. Instagram users user it as a news source.

Another reminder to always be wary of ‘going with your gut’ when it comes to marketing and social channels.

Don’t ever assume you know how others consume their news. Let data be your guide.

Public transport

Every time I see a bus packed with people, I say a silent thank you to all of the passengers.

I can’t help but think of this comparison:

Car versus bus versus bike
(via: Going Car Free)

Taking public transport, even when it’s crowded, or rainy, or hot is a valuable contribution to society. If only more people did it when possible (I totally get that it’s often not feasible).

We don’t need more roads, we need more public transport. It’s been said many times.

Which is why when I see suggestions like this (that has been massively shared on social) I shake my head – all that design and initiative wasted as they try to solve the effects of the problem and not the problem itself:

What’s the Australian Federal Election Date?

Answer: The Australian Federal Election date is Saturday 02 July 2016.

Interesting that as I write this on 25 May 2016, right in the middle of election campaign mayhem and just over 5 weeks until the next Australian Federal Election, that neither Bing nor Google give me the answer I was wanting when I searched:

Google election date results

And Bing:

Bing election date results

Thankfully DuckDuckGo has something more helpful:

DuckDuckGo election result

Apple Pay is really new and amazing for some people

I used Apple Pay this morning in a shop and the girl behind the counter was amazed by it. She wanted to know all about it and how it worked. She was young and tech savvy and yet this was an entirely new (and massively cool) concept for her.

If you have an AMEX and have had Apple Pay for a while you’ll likely find this strange – to you paying with Apple Pay is probably so routine you’re actually surprised when you can’t use it. Soon, for all ANZ customers this will be a similar experience.

However, the point here is that just because something is old hat to you, it doesn’t mean it’s old hat for everyone else. For many people, the things you take for granted are close to magical for them.

Never forget this when you communicate via your marketing and personal relationships.

The last thing you want to be is that arrogant tosser who looks down dismissively on those who haven’t yet integrated magic into their daily activities.

Reading long form on mobiles

Fascinating insights from Pew Research about the reading habits of mobile users.

In a study of 117M mobile interactions:

The analysis finds that despite the small screen space and multitasking often associated with cellphones, consumers do spend more time on average with long-form news articles than with short-form. Indeed, the total engaged time with articles 1,000 words or longer averages about twice that of the engaged time with short-form stories: 123 seconds compared with 57.

There’s a ton of interesting comparisons in the full article, but here’s just one little snippet about social channels:

While Facebook drives more traffic, Twitter tends to bring in people who spend more time with content. For longer content, users that arrive from Facebook spend an average of 107 seconds, compared with 133 seconds when they come from Twitter.

For anyone involved in content marketing this is yet more reason to ensure your sites are mobile friendly. (It seems strange that I’d have to mention this in the middle of 2016, but there’s still plenty of mobile unfriendly sites around – especially in mid-large companies).