Earlier this week, Facebook confirmed rumors that it is testing a new messaging function for business pages. The new tool, called Messenger Broadcast, will allow companies to send out mass messages to customers through Facebook Messenger. As Adweek reports:
It appears that messages composed via Messenger Broadcast contain the following elements: A welcome message, the main message, a message title, a message subtitle, a call to action in the form of a suggested reply.
This feature seems to be part of the expansion of services announced in early November by Facebook's VP of Messaging Products, David Marcus. Although it sounds like a potential benefit for businesses, if it does launch, there are two main issues to consider before using it:
- No one likes direct marketing in their inbox. Even though this product promises to target only those who have already communicated with businesses on Facebook, and includes an opt out option, no customer likes to be surprised with business messages in their inbox. It can seem like a violation of their online privacy.
- Direct messaging is a fading form of B2C communication. While it isn't in immediate danger, consumer trends show a steady and sustained shift away this kind of marketing, because it is less effective. People prefer non-invasive and honest forms of marketing, relying more on recommendations from trusted sources rather than direct brand marketing.
At best, businesses who opt to use this tool can expect some annoyance from customers. At worst, there is a very real chance of strong customer backlash. Creating a pipeline to engage customers and establishing long-lasting relationships is definitely important. However, Messenger Broadcast risks rubbing customers the wrong way. We will have to wait and see what happens with this tool, and it may never be rolled out. In case it does go beyond the testing phase, businesses should think long and hard about whether it is worth the potential risks to customer relationships.