Though it’s taken just over a year to come to fruition, the Facebook Messenger Platform officially entered beta for developers at F8 2016 on Tuesday.
Messenger Platform is part of Facebook’s ten-year plan to fully integrate the social network into the world of mobile eCommerce (a continually-expanding enterprise, as we saw with last year’s Cyber Monday sales figures). During his presentation at F8 on Tuesday, Messenger lead David Marcus positioned the communications product—which, together with WhatsApp, handles 60 billion messages per day—as an alternative to text, mobile websites, and apps all in one package.
Facebook’s goal with Messenger, in the onset, is to convert retailers’ newly mobile-optimized storefronts into their primary customer support channels (a social avenue currently occupied by Twitter). Their first step in this process, as discussed yesterday, is the introduction of chatbots—enabling brands to integrate automated conversations into Messenger, eliminating the need for live support representatives in many (if not most) situations.
Eventually, Facebook Messenger Platform wouldn’t just support customer service, but eCommerce transactions as well. That’s Facebook’s hope, at least. If you’re already using social network to communicate with brands, the idea of making purchases directly from the service won’t seem so foreign—giving eCommerce retailers more of a reason to maintain their presence on FB and investing more in advertising.
Speaking of advertising, Facebook did briefly touch upon the idea of sponsored messages with Messenger; though, these would be kept to a minimum within the product for now.
At F8 on Tuesday, Facebook announced more than 30 launch partners for Facebook Messenger Platform, including CNN and 1-800 Flowers (one offering content discovery; the other eCom and customer support).