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Facebook messaging revamp prompts strategy review

E-mail marketers don’t expect Facebook’s revamped messaging system to replace traditional e-mail service, but they are watching the platform’s rollout to see how they can use it to interact with consumers.  

“I agree with other marketers who’ve looked at this as Facebook’s play to capture young consumers who haven’t quite settled into using an e-mail client for personal or professional messages,” said Marc Haseltine, manager of e-mail marketing at the National Geographic Society. “Over the years, older users have developed a comfort level with their e-mail client, so it will require some game-changing functionality in the Facebook product to get the switch soon.”

Dave Marsey, SVP of media at integrated agency Digitas, said the platform may create opportunities to reach consumers when they are about to take action. Marketers may be able to glean consumer information based on the conversations they are having in social media. 

“Facebook is making the social experience — talking about what we need and do — mimic the way it occurs real life,” he said. 

Facebook launched the e-mail-like messaging service last month to give its members a real-time communications experience. The platform is rolling out in the next few months. It gives consumers the ability to send and receive messages through SMS, chat or e-mail. It also prioritizes messages from friends and family. 

Carolyn Nye, marketing manager at art supply retailer S&S Worldwide, said she believes marketers must take notice if consumers begin to spend more time reading messages on Facebook than through their e-mail service providers, such as AOL, Yahoo and Google’s Gmail service. 

“It is vital that we are present and building relationships on the social media channels that our customers are using, otherwise we lose opportunities,” she said. 

As the platform rolls out, brands will watch what opportunities it creates, and how it treats companies. Elie Ashery, president and CEO of Gold Lasso, an e-mail marketing service provider, said the Facebook “like” button could become a universal opt-in for channels of brand-to-consumer communications.

“If you want to be able to opt into text messaging, e-mail or any other type of channel, the like button could be an easy way,” he said. “I think if the like button proliferates, especially with the unified messaging system, then that can replace a lot of the opt-in process that’s done today.” 

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