Social networks are hugely popular ways to communicate, but many consumers, particularly the younger set, do most of their day-to-day interactions through SMS text messaging. The problem is that the SMS infrastructure is built on an outdated technological framework that’s expensive to manage and impossible to leverage the way Facebook leverages online communications.
Facebook’s Messenger app for iOS and Android phones allows you to send text-like messages through Facebook’s own network — the same one it uses for sending traditional Facebook Messages and for Facebook Chat. It’s not unlike Apple’s iMessages framework in that regard. To use the app, you have to connect your Facebook account and your phone number, but it rewards that by providing a unified view of your contacts from both address books.
As we said, this currently provides no use cases for marketers trying to reach Facebook users through Messages. There likely won’t be a really good one in the near future, but if consumers move towards using these over-the-data-plan texting alternatives, it might provide some data-based marketing tools in the future. In the same way that Facebook currently uses your status updates to target ads, it could anonymously use the content of your text messages sent through the app.
Facebook wants to control the whole ecosystem of mobile social interaction, and today’s announced optimizations of the Messenger app enable that. The reason Facebook wants that control is so it can ultimately offer better advertising and marketing products to businesses and agencies. We’ll have to keep watching Facebook’s mobile expansion to see what new features and optimizations that produces.