Today Facebook announced their new Messaging system that is sure to create deeper connections between us and our friends and associates, and all in one place – Facebook, of course!
One Size Fits All Demographics
The new Facebook Messaging system will allow you to connect with your friends and their friends (and only your friends and their friends) using the type of messaging which you and they prefer - whether that be SMS (texting), chat, email, or Facebook messages. So, now I can send emails to my kids in college, who will receive them using their preferred method of text.
The idea behind this new system is to allow us to more readily communicate and share with our friends – in real time, and without having to consider the method of communication that our friends most prefer. This is will be a time-saver of all of us, and a coup for Facebook. Why? It extends our integration with the Facebook environment – keeping us right where they want us.
What This Means for Facebook
Our social graph is a contextual map of our personal habits and preferences, our interrelationships, and much more. Facebook's new Messaging will now gather even greater amounts of data on us. And that helps Facebook to control the online advertising universe that Google is also actively seeking to dominate.
Here is a short video that gives a nice overview on how Facebook Messaging will work.
This is presently available by invitation only, presumably to work out any complications before it is gradually rolled out to over 500 millions users over the next few months. When it does, you will have the option of accepting a personal .facebook.com email address that will match your current Facebook user profile.
So, if you have not already done so, take the time to make your one-time choice for a specific Facebook username by going to Account Settings and then Username. It will notify you that you have the option to only change this once. I have already done this, so my new Facebook Messaging email will be firstname.lastname@example.org.
What This Means for You and Your Small Business
You will be able to export these new Facebook emails to your social CRM – but that defeats the purpose of having all of your messaging with your friends intact in one place – on Facebook, so that you don't have to choose whether to communicate via email, text or whatever.
Thus, while Facebook seems to be extending an olive branch to assuage the recent Google vs Facebook conflict, they are doing so knowing full well that this export feature will not be used very frequently if the new Facebook Messaging works as planned.
What this means for small businesses is that you will need to continue to stay on your toes to build a Web presence for both Google and Facebook.
I have been progressively moving towards using gmail as my primary email client, and I still plan to do so. However, this most recent wrinkle further confirms my plan to run parallel tracks to remain relevant for both Google and Facebook.
There's More to Come
We have barely scratched the surface of what is on the horizon for this development. A few topics of interest include:
- How this will work with Facebook's mobile apps – as they could dramatically enhance its success.
- How Facebook's new Groups will integrate with Messaging, and how the permissions will work.
- Security. Facebook Messaging is largely based on their chat, which has been notoriously vulnerable to hacking. This is one reason why I have turned mine off by going to Chat, then Options, and clicking to Go Offline.
Nevertheless, Facebook's new Messaging may well do what SMS (text) does well now, and that Google Wave could have done if there had been deeper integration with hundreds of millions of users:
Bringing more of us together into ongoing and trackable (and I presume searchable) conversations that will encourage greater sharing that will enhance our personal and professional relationships.
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Until tomorrow, Jeff