Facebook has partnered with Uber to allow users of its Messenger app to hail rides without leaving the chat app. Users simply need to tap an address in chat messages or select the new Transportation icon under the “More” menu to open a micro-app where they can log in with their existing Uber accounts or create a new one. Facebook is also letting users share updates of their rides with friends to prove they are indeed on the way. The feature started rolling out in the U.S. on Wednesday with plans to expand internationally.
Facebook continues to build out the functionality of its Messenger platform to lock down more users in its ecosystem while also luring more users to its messaging app by offering promotions (the first Uber ride ordered within Messenger is free). On the other hand, Uber gets to broaden its reach and acquire new users through Facebook, further solidifying its leading position in the on-demand ride-hailing market.
Facebook introduced Messenger for Business at its F8 conference in March to facilitate communication between customers and businesses. Now, Hyatt Hotels is one of the first brands to start using it. The international hotel chain now employs of a team of 60 across three global locations to help guests with their customer service needs via various social channels, including Messenger. Besides real-time conversations with its customers, Hyatt is looking to securely share transaction receipts and booking details via Messenger in the future.
What Brands Need To Do
By moving its customer service to a text-based platform like Facebook Messenger, Hyatt makes it easier for customers to reach out and start conversations. Moreover, it also gives Hyatt a voice – a personality, even – that resides inside the Facebook ecosystem and adds accountability to its customer service. As texting and messaging apps take over phone calls as the primary means of modern communication for a growing population segment, brands need to adapt to the changing consumer behavior and start to use messaging apps, such as Messenger, as a tool.
After launching a separate app for messaging all your Facebook friends on smartphones several months back, Facebook is finally bringing the update to iPad, with all functionality in tact. As the social media conglomerate continues to solidify its presence in the fast-growing market of mobile messaging apps, it seems fit to disintegrate its messaging app from its flagship social media app, as its number of active users keeps declining. It is also a smart move for Facebook to start establishing itself on the tablet devices, since there’s no official iPad version of WhatsApp, another messaging app that Facebook owns, currently available for iPad. The bottom line is, Facebook is taking messaging apps seriously, and they are implementing it across all mobile platforms.
Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp threw Facebook’s proprietary Messenger app into question on many different levels, but now we know that Facebook wants to keep its in-house app around – at least for the foreseeable future. The company is doing this by forcing its users to send messages exclusively through the Messenger app by eliminating the chat features from the traditional Facebook app; that is, in two weeks time, anyone who wants to send a Facebook message on their cell phones will need to download the separate message app. The messages tab in the main app will redirect users to the other app. It will allow Facebook to build its Messenger app out even more, adding deeper features like stickers, gifs, and video sharing, pushing branding and native messaging advertising out through the app and onto the customers.
Surely you’ve heard by now: Facebook owns the immensely popular messaging app WhatsApp. On a surface level, the purchase might seem excessive, as Facebook Messenger is fairly popular in the United States. But looking a little bit closer at the global data reveals that the purchase might be more shrewd than it appears on the surface. Facebook is now a global company, and for many with feature phones with Facebook Home is the portal to the Internet. But for messaging on a global scale, Facebook trails heavily. In Europe, WhatsApp is the messaging app of choice by, in the most extreme example in Spain, 97% of mobile users. Similarly, WhatsApp is at 83%, 84$ and 81% in the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, respectively. Beyond Europe, WhatsApp can claim 71% of Brazilian mobile users, and in Canada, WhatsApp and Facebook are tied with 16% of mobile users. It paints a dire picture for Facebook: though the company might have users looped into their social network, mobile users aren’t using Facebook to communicate. But with the acquisition of WhatsApp, Facebook just bought their way into a very commanding position over the global messaging market. Though it still remains unclear whether Facebook will keep WhatsApp’s strict no advertising policy, what is clear is the fact that if you want to access the global messaging ecosystem, Facebook is now your major bottleneck.
In 2013, messaging apps became a hot topic in the mobile sphere, but there is still no hands-down dominant service in the U.S. Facebook upgraded its offering in the text messaging space by revamping the two-year-old Messenger app, adding free calls and stickers, following the lead of Asian messaging leaders Line, Kakao Talk and WeChat. The service also added real-time statuses to allow users to tell if their friends are online or on mobile, and phone number-based messaging to allow connections to non-Facebook users. While Messenger might not be as full-featured as its Asian counterparts, don’t write it off just yet, as Facebook’s 1.2 billion active users could serve as a starter user base for the service to become as dominant a player in mobile messaging as it is in online social messaging.