Messaging is coming back to Facebook, as the platform looks to tap into emerging usage trends.
In a new overview of his evolving plans for the app, Facebook chief Tom Alison has shared an update on where Facebook is currently placed – which, for the most part, reads a lot like a pitch to hook onto the AI hype train, without really revealing much about any new, specific AI plans.
In something of a vision statement for the platform, Alison discusses how AI is being integrated into Facebook in various ways, including:
- Using AI to recommend relevant Reels to users
- Using AI to recommend relevant public groups and group content
- Using AI to highlight emerging creators that may be of interest
Like, yeah, we already know that Meta uses machine learning and systematic recommendations to highlight relevant content, this is no revelation or update. But again, it seems like Facebook is keen to get in on the AI hype, with a bit of a ‘hey, we use AI too’ type thing.
But this element is the most interesting aspect:
“Today, over 140 billion messages are sent across our apps every day. On Instagram, people already reshare Reels nearly 1 billion times daily through DMs and on Facebook we see private sharing of Reels growing strongly as well. We are testing the ability for people to access their Messenger inbox within the Facebook app and you’ll see us expand this testing soon.”
Yes, seven years after Meta forced users to download a separate Messenger app, in order to maintain their messaging chats, the company is now looking to re-integrate messaging into the main app.
This comes as a result of the broader shift towards private messaging, and away from public posting. Both Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram chief Adam Mosseri have noted this shift, with Mosseri explaining last July that:
“Friends post a lot more to stories and send a lot more DMs than they post to Feed.”
Indeed, a recent internal report from Meta showed that while time spent on Facebook and Instagram is on the rise overall, creation and engagement is declining, with fewer people posting personal updates than they have in the past.
That habitual shift has seen Meta putting more focus on messaging interaction, with new options like Instagram ‘Channels’, which enables users to get more direct information from creators within DMs, essentially simulating feed updates but as messages instead.
Now, it seems that DMs will also be directly merged back into the Facebook experience. Which could be good, in making it easier to share more content with close friends and family. But it could also devalue the separate Messenger app, and make it a less necessary option.
Or it’ll have little impact. I mean, you can share Facebook posts via Messenger already, via the direct share button, and more people are now used to interacting across the two platforms.
But it could be another shift in this trend, which will see more engagement happening via DMs, as opposed to within the Facebook feed.
The important note here is that a lot more of your Facebook interactions are likely now less visible to you, in terms of direct engagement numbers, which could be another consideration for marketers in mapping out their strategy, and connecting with their audience.
This update could, when enacted, could further exacerbate that shift.