Just Announced: New Facebook and Instagram Messenger Updates

Kelsey Formost

27 Jul 2020 · 2 min read

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2020 has thrown digital marketers more than a few curveballs. With most of the world working from home and a gigantic spike in social consumption, social media apps have had to adjust to new, widespread consumer behaviors more quickly than they ever expected.

Facebook and its partner platform Instagram have been at the forefront of many of these accelerated changes. The main updates for the social media giants this year have fallen into two categories: e-commerce, and direct messaging.

The need for new ways to access products and services via digital platforms propelled Facebook to introduce Shops, its biggest leap into e-commerce to date. Now that their new online shopping features are live, we’re starting to hear about updates we were expecting back in late 2019 dealing with Facebook and Instagram’s messenger apps.

Before their major pivot into e-commerce, Facebook was extremely focused on expanding its messaging capabilities.

Back in February, we broke the news about Instagram’s predicted update that would make Direct Messaging available on its Desktop app. Previously a mobile-only feature, the expansion for Instagram Messages indicated that Facebook and its companies were looking at vastly expanding their messaging capabilities. And we were correct; a few weeks after we posted said article, Instagram made direct messages available for desktop users worldwide.

As early as last year, Mark Zuckerberg told the New York Times he wanted to pivot Facebook from a public town hall feeling to encourage more private, person-to-person communications. He declared that messaging is among the "three fastest-growing areas of online communication," along with groups and stories. And he was right. According to research from Business Insider Intelligence, messaging apps have already surpassed social media platforms in terms of number of active users in 2020.

We saw it coming and now it’s here: more widespread updates to both Facebook and Instagram’s messaging apps have been officially announced for 2020.

In an official announcement earlier this week, Facebook shared that new privacy settings would be available to users of the Messenger app. With a focus on personal data security, messenger now includes an optional App Lock setting that can be toggled on and off according to the user’s preferences. When toggled “on”, App Lock uses your device’s privacy setting, like a fingerprint or Face ID to unlock messenger, not storing the user’s information on Facebook itself.

Also in the vein of privacy, the same announcement shared that there would be more features surrounding controls of who can see a user’s content. Facebook will be implementing privacy settings similar to those on its Instagram messaging app which allows users to dictate who can message or call the user directly, who goes to the ‘requests’ folder, and who can’t message or call a user at all.

For those looking for publicity rather than privacy, Facebook also just introduced the capability for users to go live directly from private Messenger rooms. Messenger rooms are joinable video calls that can be broadcast by the creator to a profile, page, or chat. The link to join or tune in can be accessed by anyone, even those who don’t have a Facebook account.

Live broadcasts via Facebook have doubled since this time last year, mostly in part to the majority of the population staying home. This new feature (still in beta) allows for a creative combination of messenger and Facebook Live. It will be interesting to see how creators use the feature in the coming months.

Looking ahead: expect more direct message marketing efforts

With such a large expansion into both e-commerce and messaging, it’s a natural conclusion that many marketers will choose to leverage these new capabilities into new creative campaigns. Paid direct messaging accounts for a major portion of Facebook’s overall revenue, and we can assume Facebook Ad CPCs will go up in the wake of the introduction of ‘Shops’.

By the end of 2020, expect to see more paid campaigns in your direct message inboxes along with more privacy settings; both on Facebook and Instagram.

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