Facebook Messenger

Australia is the 2nd country in the world to launch “Messenger Day” | Facebook’s new feature!

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Facebook “Messenger Day” rolled out in Australia on Tuesday, making it the 2nd country in the world that Facebook have launched their new social story-telling functionality on Messenger.
 
Clearly inspired by the success of Snapchat and following the launch of Instagram Stories, Facebook has focused the testing and release of this new feature in international markets where Snapchat usage isn’t nearly as high as Facebook Messenger, in an attempt to build an audience of users who will then influence other users to adopt this new feature (Poland was the test market out of interest).
 
As always when Facebook updates their apps, you’ll see a backlash from a proportion of users who struggle with change and love a good whinge, however interestingly enough, this time I’ve observed that same backlash from a proportion of friends of mine who actually work in the digital media industry like myself and/or are regularly passionate first adopters.
 
The feedback from the younger demographic of social media users is that “we’re already time poor as it is and don’t have time for Snapchat, Instagram Stories AND Messenger Day.” To them, this is also clearly just a blatant copy of existing technology that’s working… which Facebook and Instagram put their hands up and freely admit that it is.
 
“Just like when Facebook invented the [News] Feed, and every social product was like, ‘That’s an innovation, how do we adapt that to our network?’ You’re going to see stories pop up in other networks over time, because it’s one of the best ways to show visual information in chronological order”
– Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom when Instagram launched “Instagram Stories”.
 
I’m not saying that Facebook Messenger Day doesn’t have a place for a proportion of the digital market, as no doubt, as a number of existing Facebook Messenger users will adopt Messenger Day into their lives, however lot of my younger friends use Snapchat as their main tool of communication (including more than text messages), so Messenger Day certainly won’t be something that replaces Snapchat (in the short-term at least) for the youth market.
 
It does definitely make sense for an organization like Facebook to adopt game-changing digital technology from competitor platforms that fits with current social media behaviours and more personalised storytelling, whilst still sinking millions into development of new Facebook-powered social media apps and features, however they need to keep their eye on the ball and continue to develop different innovations in the medium to long-term to “push” their relevance with their younger audiences.
 
Brands and agency media buyers beware. This “new” Facebook Messenger Day feature won’t necessarily be the magic solution for reaching 14-25s with your marketing, if and when it becomes available for advertisers. 
 
But Facebook do have money to burn, so watch this my space 😉😜 for newer technologies that they develop that might be! 

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Dan Wilkinson is founder of travel, entertainment & lifestyle biz/brand, Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet and one of Australia’s most experienced social media professional who has driven social media for a range of international brands including Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, Peroni Italian Beer, Philadelphia Cream Cheese & more.
 
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I recently wrapped my position as Social Media Lead for SapientNitro Australia, transforming the face of social media for a range of international brands including Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Peroni Italian Beer, Bulmers Original Cider & more, to focus on freelance clients and my own business, Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet!, a travel, entertainment & lifestyle brand, business, blog & podcast.
 
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Facebook Mentions – Lighting cigars with wads of brand Benjamins.

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Facebook MentionsWell, hai Faceook.. nice shiny news toys.. Facebook Messenger, Slingshot, Paper, Native Video being optimized and now Facebook Mentions… 

In case you haven’t heard of it, Facebook Creative Labs recently dropped their latest tool, the Facebook Mentions app “makes it easy for public figures to talk with their fans and each other on the go.” Hang on, I hear you say.. that’s what Twitter and Reddit are for.. yes, this is the latest in moves designed to keep social media users within the Facebook family.. buy Instagram, Facebook Paper for news, Slingshot to combat Snapchat, optimizing Native Video to draw advertising $$$ away from YouTube. It all makes sense right? I’m not convinced.

Celebrities, market need and the need for Facebook to have their fingers in every pie.

Now I’m not a celebrity (yet 😉 ), but I’ve been around the music industry for years and for me there’s two types of celebrities.. those who like to be seen schmoozing with other celebrities and sharing it with the world and those that like to be left alone or if connecting with other celebs, are not trapped up in making a big deal about it, so to me Facebook Mentions in it’s current format doesn’t make sense.

And what about Facebook’s perceived need for “world-domination” of all social media tools in the broader social media market?

We live in an ever-evolving technological age where consumers are spoilt for choice and each of us have our own little suite of social platforms that we use in varying frequencies depending on what drives and inspires us as an individual. Like my food and travel destinations I crave choice and variety in my social media; I enjoy Twitter for one-on-one connections with influencers, meeting every-day people I come across in the digital world whom I’ve never met who love similar things to me, friends and making new business contacts, Instagram as a photographer for daily inspiration/sharing and yes, even Pinterest has it’s place to occasionally inspire me and make me laugh when I’m struggling to get the day started and coffee just isn’t cutting the mustard. Like most of us. I want to at least “feel” like I have this choice and while Facebook Creative Labs is a cool initiative in theory, some of those smarts would surely be better utilised in improving Facebook’s user experience, as what Mark Zuckerberg & Co seem to fail to realise is you don’t need to own own every single human connection on social media. Sure, it’d be nice ($$$) and social innovation is certainly key, but you can’t be everything to everyone and when spread yourself thin over a 100 different opportunities invariably you open yourself up to falling flat on your face.

Last year I spoke with one of our top guys in Singapore about his philosophy on innovation and for his own personal development he endeavours to focus on 3 big projects a year and to do them well, nay, absolutely nail them. I come from a similar school of thought. In 2010, I burnt myself out working 12-14 hours a day 6 – 7 days a week managing 3 bands/singer-songwriters, working on a snowboard show on TV, building a business and flying around the country running various events, whilst trying to make ends meet. Now translate this to Facebook. For them it’s burning resource. It’s all very well to want to build creations designed to combat competitors and blow them out of the water with innovation, but creation’s just the first step. Once you’ve spent millions of dollars building a viable platform, to stay current and to continue to evolve, it’s necessary to continue pouring money into projects just to keep them relevant and competitive, which leaves two considerations – (a) The aforementioned market need and (b) Where’s this money coming from for development?

So my Advertising Dollars are funding this?

Yes, now comes the “fun” part. “Where’s the money coming from for your shiny new toys Facebook?” – mutter agencies, brand and marketing teams around the world. And yes, pure and simple. Brands are paying for it.

Working in social media I accept that part of my role is explaining to clients that the natural evolution of successful digital technologies into paid channels is nothing new (e.g. Google) and another reason why each brand’s social strategy should remain platform neutral and be tied to business objectives, rather than specific social platforms. But this? Uh uh.. in it’s current format and in an already saturated social media market I fail to see the necessity of Facebook Mentions and sure if it took off there may well be financial benefits in influencer/brand cross-promotions in the future, but they will be affordable for the few and when life’s already been made more challenging with the “death of Facebook Organic Reach” conversations, this is not helping.

I’ve been sitting here thinking you’ve been making some shrewd moves of late, Facebook, with your finger on the pulse and as always I’m happy to be proved wrong, but I’m concerned that this just smacks of an itchy trigger finger and you’re shooting blanks.

DW

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Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group.
Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group.