Meta—the rebranded company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—is betting that the future of commerce lies in social messaging.
In the fall, the company announced a series of new features that let business owners more easily interact with customers across its suite of messaging products. In particular, Facebook seems focused on building up WhatsApp as a commerce tool.
The new changes underscore how commerce and customer service are increasingly moving into messaging apps. In China, for instance, the messaging app WeChat oversaw $250 billion worth of transactions in 2020.
Facebook has already been bundling its various messaging services—Instagram DM, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger—so that users can answer, say, a WhatsApp message via Instagram. Now it is turning them into hubs for customer communication.
Here are the new tools from Meta that brands should know about:
A new feature lets businesses add a “WhatsApp” button to their Instagram profiles, so that customers can direct their customer service questions there. Many businesses prefer to do their customer service through WhatsApp, where they can build auto-responses that help customers answer their own questions before speaking to a representative. To capitalize on this, tools like Chatdesk Shift assist brands in building self-service Q&As into WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Facebook has long allowed brands to place ads on Instagram or Facebook that directs customers to send them a message. An ad from a t-shirt company, for instance, might come with a prompt to DM the company, “Do you have any promotions?” But previously, brands were limited to using the messaging service on the platform where the ad ran. Now Facebook will guess which messaging service—Instagram DM, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp—each user is most likely to use, and it will direct them there. That means Instagram ads can now have WhatsApp prompts, and Facebook ads can have Instagram DM prompts.
In June 2021, Meta expanded its Shops tool to WhatsApp, so that users could browse and purchase products without leaving the messaging platform. That is especially important in countries like India, where WhatsApp is one of the most widely used social platforms.
What all these changes have in common is that Meta is trying to bring customer service on social media to the messaging platforms that its users rely on most. That makes it all the more important for brands to have in place tools like Chatdesk, so that they can field customer inquiries across many different platforms.