Instagram is also doubling down on commerce, with a new shopping tab, and 'checkout' (seamless payments for products bought inside Instagram) rolling out to more brands. Instagram is one of the fastest growing platforms for e-commerce, with both ads and organic content working to drive direct product purchases. They didn't announce anything specific about Instagram Business Messaging, although they've said before that this will be coming in 2019. I'm really excited for this to launch—just as ten years ago web chat had a huge impact on e-commerce, increasing conversion rates by enabling consumers to easily ask questions about products and delivery, business messaging on Instagram will have the same effect for Instagram Shopping.
Instagram is also experimenting with removing follower and like counts, to help shift the focus away from engagement and more towards real human engagement. If they can do this while still retaining user engagement it will be a huge signal to the industry and a positive move from a digital addiction perspective. It could reduce the power of influencers however, who currently play a major role in product promotion on Instagram.
Messenger is now opening up as a customer acquisition channel with new 'click-to-message' ads in Facebook which can link to automated Messenger experiences. Conversocial was in the beta for this functionality, and Facebook showed a case study of Conversocial customer Sephora using click-to-message ads to sign customers up for an in-store appointment. Sephora found that the combination of click-to-message ads and an automated appointment bot enabled 60% more appointments to be booked over Messenger vs their web campaigns, with 42% more people showing up to the appointments, a huge increase in advertising effectiveness.
The ability to use messaging for customer acquisition, commerce, and customer care, with a single persistent conversation is incredibly powerful. At every touchpoint you know who the customer is and all of their historical interactions, allowing brands to always deliver completely personalized interactions in a conversational experience.
Facebook's AI team spent a lot of time sharing the huge advancements they've made in using deep learning to help with content moderation, and the effort they are making to reduce AI bias and ensure that their algorithms are as fair as possible. As a giant platform with billions of users and an incredible amount of content being uploaded every day, this is not an easy task, and it's great to see Facebook taking it seriously.
It was also great to see the continuous innovation that Facebook has been making with their Oculus products. I had a lot of fun testing out Stormland on the Oculus Rift S. But I’m actually most excited about the launch of Oculus Quest, which is the first product enabling full high-quality VR gaming without the need for a powerful gaming computer. I think this will be a tipping point for virtual reality, taking it mainstream for the first time. 2019: the year of business messaging, and virtual reality!
If you're interested in learning more about how you can use business messaging for customer acquisition, commerce, and customer care, reach out today.