Facebook’s Social Inbox Increases Value of ‘Likers’

zuxFacebook announced its Facebook Messages platform today, which, among other things, will allow the site’s 500 million users to establish @Facebook.com e-mail addresses. And it appears that the platform’s “Social Inbox” will significantly reward marketers who are spending ad budget on accruing “likers” for their pages on the social site.

The Social Inbox will include regular Facebook messages, e-mail sent to @Facebook.com addresses, mobile phone messages (SMS), and Facebook Chat discussions. When a brand sends an e-mail or direct message to a “liker” on the Facebook Messages platform, it will appear in an “Other Messages” section that sits directly below a “Messages” folder. In simple terms, the “Messages” folder will house conversations with friends while “Other Messages” will hold messages from entities that users have “liked.”

There are a number of intriguing potential manifestations for marketers with the development. Utmost among them is the possible transformation of “likers” from moving targets – who normally only see brand messaging in their news feeds – to much more static ones. And brands may prove eager to invite “likers” to opt in to their e-mail lists, said David Daniels, CEO of The Relevancy Group.

“On the Facebook pages, brands should have a link back to their e-mail preference centers,” he said. “It should now be a standard part of your brand page.”

Daniels said the overall Facebook Messages platform only increases the value of “likers.” He said, “Brands will have to move fast to build fan pages and recruit [likers].”

To be clear, brand pages can only send direct messages to one individual “liker” at a time. The only bulk messaging format on Facebook remains the status update.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t address marketing or advertising issues much during a 45-minute press conference, which was viewed by as many as 35,000 people at once on the company’s live video channel. “This is not e-mail,” Zuckerberg said. “This is a messaging system that includes e-mail as a part of it.”

Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, told ClickZ that “Messages” made the overall Facebook platform an even richer communications channel for everyone using it. “Facebook, plus e-mail, plus mobile and messaging equals a major win for the company and users,” he said.

Meanwhile, as brands increase budget for Facebook ads to spur “like” activity, Zuckerberg and Co. continue to find ways of rewarding them. One month ago, Facebook signed a deal with Bing to become the social site’s fifth Instant Personalization partner. The more “likers” accrued by companies, the more Bing searches for their brand will appear with Facebook-driven social context.