Place a marker on your calendar for 11/15/10, the date that Facebook entered the e-mail arena with its Messages platform. While still in beta for a few thousand members, Messages will ultimately offer competition to Google Gmail and who knows what after that? The big deal about Messages is that you can e-mail along with texting and chat with your community of Facebook friends, and it's going to be much harder for spammers (and other marketers) to reach you. Sounds like something everyone has been wanting for decades. Assuming that Facebook Messages becomes wildly popular (and it's hard to argue against), there are lots of implications for users and brand marketers.
If Messages works as advertised, and if we switch to it instead of Gmail or other e-mail services, we will no longer have to worry about intrusive spam, fraud and opportunities to invest in Nigeria from people we don't know. All of that will be Facebook's problem, and they are vowing to be very strict about use of the service. In principal, you will only receive e-mail and other messages from your Facebook friends in your inbox. Anything else, like newsletters we opt-in to will automatically route to a "other" folder. Third party developers will not be able to access the service for unsolicited marketing or other types of spam. Yes, this all assumes a lot, but it's what we have all wanted for many years, so it will probably happen.
The most immediate impact will be on marketers, who will have to start planning other ways to reach customers. Inbound marketing comes to mind. E-mail marketing software and services companies will have to rethink what they do for a living. Internet marketers will have to rethink Facebook, focusing more on content and less on advertising. Facebook ads will still be out there, but will they be included in Messages? Good question.
To me, this is one of the final nails in the outbound marketing coffin. The underlying message is clear. Users want to hang out with and hear from their (real) friends online. They don't want marketing, period. Now, Facebook is apparently siding with the users in a well-planned attempt to squash Google and other pretenders to the throne. Even inbound marketers need to rethink their strategies. While inbound has always been focused on content and relationship building, the means of reaching new potential customers is narrowing rapidly. If e-mail shuts down as a marketing channel, we will be left with search and social media alone. Oh yeah, Messages is a Facebook thing. Hmmm, what else could us hungry marketers be facing down the road? Again, the writing is on the wall. We will probably become publishers, not marketers, as a full-time job.
What are your thoughts on Facebook Messages and its impact on users and marketers?
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