Facebook announced its project of unifying the messaging infrastructures of WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger. These three apps cumulate more than 2.6 billion users, making it the largest messaging network.
With this project, Facebook wants to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.”
In his recent post, Mark Zuckerberg outlines the importance of messaging. He expects that, in a few years, “future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp will become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network.”
WhatsApp and Messenger respectively boast 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion monthly active users. By keeping them as separate apps with their specificities, Facebook reaches different types of users with each application. Moreover, Instagram is especially appreciated by younger generations: 66% of users are between the ages of 18 and 29.
In the future, the three services will remain stand-alone apps, but their infrastructure will be unified. That will allow to keep the same experience and specifics that we know today, while making the communication easier for users.
Thanks to the new infrastructure, users will now be able to use any of these apps to communicate. Some people use the three apps, while some of them exclusively use WhatsApp for messaging. With this interoperability, a WhatsApp user will be able to send a message to a Messenger user without signing up to the service. While the number of channels used in our daily lives tends to increase, this change will simplify communications.
A stronger emphasis on privacy
Another major part of the plan is a strong focus on privacy. In his post, Zuckerberg says that he believes “a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms.” He observes that private messaging, ephemeral stories and small groups are the fastest growing areas of online communication. This is in part due to the growing concern of users to keep their data safe, and the need to complete actions such as payment privately and securely.
At the moment, only WhatsApp is using an end-to-end encryption system for messages. With the new messaging infrastructure, Facebook plans to extend this encryption to all its messaging services.
A part of this plan around privacy is also to reduce the length of time the information is stored and accessible. In the same way as stories disappear after 24 hours, Facebook imagines a future in which users could choose to auto delete some messages after a month or a year.
The impact for Customer Experience
In the space of customer experience, the growth of private interactions is also a major trend. Gartner predicts that customer service enquiries through messaging apps will surpass the ones on social media this year. By launching Messenger for Business in 2016 and WhatsApp Business more recently, Facebook supports this shift and makes it easier for customers to connect with companies.
Messaging enables to communicate with rich features such as media sharing, voice messages and payments. Thanks to this encryption system, customers will now be able to benefit from these features without fearing data leak. Mark Zuckerberg takes the example of a person discovering a business on Instagram, who can easily transition to its preferred messaging app for secure payments and customer support.
“The unification of the Facebook messaging ecosystem is a boon for businesses. Now it will be much easier to manage customer questions, concerns, and interactions because customers can use their preferred service – and thus feel the most comfortable – and businesses can respond to them more effectively.”
This plan is adapted to nowadays’ customers, who want to use their channel of choice to contact companies. This orientation advocated by Facebook confirms the importance of omni-digital and the growing interest of consumers in using multiple messaging channels.
This project reinforces our belief that it is essential for companies to have a unified view of customer interactions. Within RingCentral Engage, agents access a global customer view, including a conversation history from all messaging channels (Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, In-App Messaging…) but also all other channels such as email and live chat.
This provides the possibility of an identical experience across all contact points, while increasing agent productivity. From the company perspective, this approach has other benefits such as improving average handling time, increased customer satisfaction and first contact resolution.
Originally published Mar 14, 2019, updated Sep 24, 2021