TLDR: Facebook is providing a new way for businesses and organization to speak directly to potential customers with Facebook “Messenger Codes”. Simply embed the icon into your print graphics and customers can be instantly connected with you through the Facebook Messenger mobile application.
Print Marketing Gets an Upgrade from Facebook
Innovation isn’t a word we typically use when talking about print media. In fact, we don’t talk about print media much around here at all. We’re digital junkies. We have an almost obsessive relationship with the online universe and sometimes forget that print, for all its “shortcomings”, has been around in one form or another for thousands of years and isn’t likely to go away any time soon.
Once in a while however, we get handed a tool that takes a format that we refer to as “traditional media”, like print, and ups the game. So when, at this year’s F8 conference, Facebook provided us with a pretty cool nugget of technology called “Messenger Codes” that could be applied to print marketing and advertising, we wanted to jump on it and see what the opportunities were.
Messenger Codes function much the same way a QR codes do (remember those things?), but look quite a bit different and at their base have a much different purpose. While the somewhat slow death of QR remain a mystery to some, the basic premise was that you had to have downloaded a QR reader. Once you had the tool open on your mobile device, you focused it on the QR pattern, and were taken directly to a website, application or other special landing page.
The trouble with all of this is that it often took just as long as going to your browser, type in a company’s web address and retrieve the exact same information with no other special value delivered. Messenger Codes serve a different purpose. When scanned within FB messenger, Messenger codes will immediately open up a dialogue box directly between the customer and your organization. But it doesn’t end there…
Facebook Messenger is now the second most popular application in the United States, behind Facebook, with over 900 million users.
To understand the broader power of this technology, it helps to have watched a bit of Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address at the Facebook Developers Conference this year. Suffice it to say however that, Messenger is the platform’s next big push forward and messaging is just the launch point for a much broader set of functionality around the tool, including eCommerce, offer delivery, and audience development.
If you’re having trouble contextualizing how this works, imagine a world where you pass a poster on the street featuring a “can’t miss” artist or event. Currently, you would either make a mental note to hunt down the event later that day or go find whatever website was set up to sell tickets, including figuring out where you want to sit, how to pay, and so on.
Now imagine, you pass the same poster on the street. You open up Messenger, aim it at the Code, and a chat window opens up directly from the business that says “Thanks for contacting ‘High 5 Tickets’. Interested in seeing “Band X”? Where would you like to sit”, and so on….
Where this technology gets very interesting is when it merges with Facebook’s artificial intelligence tools which will, with increasing accuracy, be able to understand and engage customers in the type of human conversation described above. Now, Messenger ceases to be simply a way to communicate, but grows into its own unique ecosystem, a brand new space for businesses to have a one on one conversation with their customers.
For companies that frequently invest in print, especially where large format postering, flyers, and retail marketing are concerned, adding your business’ Facebook Messenger tag directly to artwork means being able to attach metrics directly to your print marketing efforts – a number that has always been notoriously difficult to calculate. It means being able to more quickly and efficiently put the products and services you are advertising in your customer’s hands, than ever before. It means being able to follow up with that customer on future campaigns.
If we had to bet the farm it (and we do) we would virtually guarantee that Facebook will quickly expand the program to allow organizations to create multiple tags, each with different objectives. So, if in the future, I see two posters, one with a Nike a golf bag, and one with a pair of Nike shoes, that I love, different types of pre-scripted messaging will open the conversation according to which code I’ve scanned. Your organization could then take any one of a number of actions including applied discount codes and the like.
Why get started with Messenger Codes now? As we’ve seen in the past, Facebook tends to reward early adopters. If you’re waiting for this technology to fully develop, you’ll be chasing the curve, a position that anyone who started an actual Facebook “Page” late in the evolution of the platform will understand. We recommend giving it a shot now. The code is absolutely free to download and shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes to implement.
To find the code for your organization, simply go to your business’s Facebook Page inbox by clicking “Messages” (on top of your cover photo). Once you’re there, scroll down and look for a small donut on the bottom left hand side of your screen. Once you see it, click and you’ll get a preview of your icon with a prompt asking you to select the size image you want.
Your graphic designer will be able to easily add the code to your artwork and that’s about all that’s needed. Passerby’s who see your print media will simply have to open the Messenger camera on their phone, focus on the icon, and a conversation with your business will automatically open.
Admittedly, this currently requires that you maintain common monitoring of your organization’s messages. If you’re not in the habit of checking your Facebook incoming mail that often, try grabbing the “Pages” app, as it will serve a push notification to your phone, as soon as your business is contacted. Other tools like the Facebook “Away” option can help ensure that your inbound messages are captured and followed up on as soon as possible.