Digital TransformationHow messaging is transforming the way we do business

How messaging is transforming the way we do business

Each month, people and businesses exchange more than 8 billion messages, representing 400% year on year growth. How can businesses prepare for this change?

Messaging has come to play a primary role in the way people expect to do business. Together, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have nearly three billion daily active users — that’s almost half the planet.

80% of adults say they use messaging daily. And as part of this, consumers also expect to be able to message businesses.

In fact, half of consumers consider messaging the modern way of communicating with a business. They expect it to be easy to use, effective, reliable, and fast. And in the US and the UK, nearly two-thirds of people have reached out to a business via messaging.

In 2018, Facebook conducted a comprehensive analysis on people’s instant messaging behaviors across their own messaging platform. They also reviewed third-party research, commissioned studies and focus groups, and interviewed people.

The results revealed some powerful insights into how messaging is changing the way we’re interacting with businesses. In this post, we’ll look at some of the most actionable findings from this study.

(Unless otherwise noted, all statistics listed in this post were taken from the Facebook study.)

The ubiquity of messaging: WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger together have nearly 3 billion daily active users

The global instant messaging market is a huge, competitive landscape that includes both business (enterprise) and personal (consumer) instant messaging. The market is dominated by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which together comprise nearly 3 billion active daily users, as reported by Statista.

It’s noteworthy to mention that Facebook owns WhatsApp, which it purchased in February 2014. That makes Facebook the clear leader in instant messaging apps. Other top messenger apps include WeChat, QQ Mobile, Skype, and Snapchat.

monthly active users in numbers of FB messenger, whatsapp, and other messaging platforms

Image source: Statista

Messaging frequency and behavior: 80% of adults use messaging daily

Facebook’s research shed some light on people’s instant messaging behavior across 8 markets, shedding some light on how we use messaging apps and illuminating a growing trend towards visual messaging (e.g., sending images, emojis, and video through messaging apps). Here are the key findings:

  • 67% of people say their messaging has increased over the past two years
  • 80% of adults use messaging daily
  • 51% of people indicate that messaging has replaced other forms of communication

percentages of people who say they message daily

People aren’t just messaging more often, they’re also messaging differently, using what Facebook deems a “universal language” to communicate with their messaging apps—namely, pictures.

For example nearly 60% of people surveyed indicated that they have sent an emoji-only message to communicate a concept (e.g., “hello,” “great,” or “let’s get ramen”). Here are some interesting statistics supporting this trend.

  • People share more than 17 billion photos on Messenger each month
  • People share more than 4.5 billion photos, 1 billion videos and 80 million GIFs per day on WhatsApp
  • On Instagram, 1 in 3 conversations between consumers and businesses begin with an Instagram Story

How consumers’ wide adoption of messaging impacts businesses

The growing adoption of instant messaging among consumers is inevitably impacting how people communicate with businesses—and this is true on a global scale.

In four markets including Brazil, India, the UK and the US, Facebook’s research revealed that well over half of people surveyed had reached out to a business via instant messaging in the past three months.

In two cases, Brazil and India, the percentage was well above half, as follows:

  • Brazil – 85%
  • India – 74%
  • UK – 61%
  • US – 61%

This makes sense because these are countries where mobile is more widely adopted. Facebook reports that people surveyed in emerging markets such as Brazil and India are 2.4 times more likely than those in mature mobile markets to message businesses.

Per Facebook, well over half the people in four countries said they had reached out to a business via instant messaging in the past three months.

Each month, people and businesses exchange more than eight billion messages, representing 400% year over year growth. Certain industries are seeing wider adoption of this type of communication than others. These include professional services, retail, local entertainment, public good and media.

Consumers expect more from businesses: Ease of use, speed, effectiveness, and anytime / anywhere access 

Just as instant messaging has changed the way consumers are interacting with businesses, it’s also changed the expectations they have around response times and ease of communication. It’s important for businesses to understand what this means in concrete terms.

Just taking the simple step of adding messaging capabilities to your website or Facebook page can positively impact the way consumers view your business. Facebook reports that people surveyed in 15 countries rated the effectiveness of messaging a business as “excellent” or “very good” compared to calling on the phone.

People tend to view business messaging in a positive light. This likely has to do with the ease of getting through to a business using instant messaging (versus calling and sitting on hold) as well as the convenience.

People surveyed expected the following things from business messaging:

  • Easy to use
  • Anywhere, any time
  • Time-saving
  • Effective
  • Reliable
  • Fast
  • Fun

Keep in mind that one of the main reasons that people prefer instant messaging over phone calls is the expectation that their questions will be addressed quickly.

Among people surveyed in the four markets listed above, the majority expect a faster response time via instant messaging versus a more traditional mode of communication.

How fast is fast? In many cases, people expect an instant response (defined by receiving a response in ten minutes or less). The rising adoption of chatbots is evidence of this, with Facebook reporting that in the US alone, the conversation around chatbots on Facebook grew nearly 600% in the past year.

Messaging isn’t going away: Half of consumers consider it the modern way to communicate with businesses

Even if your business doesn’t support instant messaging, consumers likely expect that it does. Half the people surveyed in all 15 markets indicated that they considered messaging the modern way to communicate with businesses. Almost 40% revealed that they believe messaging is offered by many businesses. Imagine their surprise (and disappointment) when they discover that your business isn’t one of them.

The ubiquity of mobile devices combined with the speed and accessibility of mobile networks is changing the way we communicate with each other and with the businesses we patronize. Consumer adoption of instant messaging is growing and the way we use messaging apps is evolving to include more visualize elements and graphics.

Businesses who don’t adopt this new technology will likely find it challenging to attract new prospects or meet the changing needs of existing customers who’ve grown accustomed to 24/7 accessibility and fast response times from businesses.

Jacqueline Dooley is the Director of Digital Strategy at CommonMind.

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