The New Facebook Groups Explained

facebookWhen it comes to Facebook’s different functions and products, the confusion is many times never ending for the general users. New changes are constantly being made, so I’m going to try and sort out the confusion a bit by explaining how to use the new groups.

First of all, the new groups differ a lot from the groups that we have known so far. Many brands have been unsure whether to create a groups or a page, but the differences are getting more distinct: The groups work better for internal communication and to stay connected to a group of people you need to communicate with. For instance like in the case of a team of collaborators or a group of people who needs to organize a trip, just to name a couple of examples.

The pages, on the other hand, works better if you want to build your community and attract people to your brand. The intention is for brands to run their communication on pages and not in groups.

Groups as a collaboration tool

The new groups works well as a collaboration tool between for instance your family, your co-workers or whoever you need to collaborate on projects with. This allows you to share knowledge with and make updates for a closed group of people. There are three new features that make the new groups an obvious collaboration tool:

• Group chat: All members of the groups will have the ability to chat in one window. All members in the group will be able to follow the chat and to take part in it.

• Shared documents: group members will be able to work and edit in the same document as we already know it from Google docs. It is possible to change back and forward in the changes so you can follow the progress of the document.

• Events: Each of the groups can make their own events, which will be visible to others according to the privacy settings of the group.

Some of the thoughts behind the new groups is the idea that we are becoming increasingly more social on the web and with the new groups we can target our updates to a specific group of people and communicate with segments of the friends instead of making updates that aim for your entire network. In that sense we can communicate more specific with different groups of people in our network.

The existing groups will continue to be supported by Facebook, but it is no longer possible to create the old kind of groups. How long the groups will be maintained is not sure.

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.