Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has made a big move that he says will make social media safer. He highlighted the focus on making online chatting faster, simpler, more reliable and more private. The announcement sees WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger joining forces.
This manoeuvre has made headlines in international ITC media. It could assist the social media giant in recognising identities across all its platforms. It would also make it harder for regulators to insist that the three apps split up their functioning and ownership.
Safeguard for consumers – social media privacy gaining traction
Users will still be able to access and interact with each platform independently but their privacy is likely to increase. High-level encryption will now protect prying eyes from seeing messages in conversations to which they have not been invited.
In fact, Zuckerberg’s aim is to create a messenger service based on the real identities of users, which follows the way in which Facebook works. It will mean users of WhatsApp, where only a cell number is needed, and Instagram, where people can have multiple anonymous accounts, are likely to need to spill the beans as to who they really are.
Marketing clout – enhancing social media marketing using DM
Another benefit of the merger extends beyond individuals to how businesses will now be able to communicate via social media. Specifically, social media marketing could receive a boost and be used more strategically.
According to a recent Forbes article, ‘[WhatsApp] is the communication tool of choice, trusted for its security and integrity’ by over 1.5 billion users for more than 65 billion global messages daily. This level of adoption is driven by its ‘lack of clutter and marketing interference’.
From the beginning, WhatsApp had end-to-end encryption built into its main platform. This was so that ‘messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents and calls [were] secured from falling into the wrong hands’. Now, executives and their teams will be able to chat across this messaging powerhouse. This will comprise of Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Their ‘underlying technical infrastructure will need to be unified’ to the same level of security that is already trusted in the WhatsApp offering.
Facebook, of course, will have to explain its motivation for unification when looking at data exploitation. This is especially true when considering the recent WhatsApp announcement. This announcement aimed at stemming the tide of fake news. WhatsApp announced that it would limit the number of people to whom a message could be sent to.
What is social media marketing and how do businesses use it?
3 of the top social media platforms in the world belong to the Facebook mothership. Other major channels include Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Youtube and many more. When businesses make strategic use of social media marketing they often see a rise in targeted engagements and enquiries. Taking one step further sees social media marketing opening up the door for 2-way direct conversation. In the digital marketing and advertising space, this announcement is welcomed with open arms. Communication will no doubt be streamlined and with increased transparency brands will know who they are dealing with. The other side is also true in that brands and businesses need to become transparent and comply with enhanced safety protocols.
Some questions from the merger announcement include:
- Will loyal WhatsApp users who have limited trust in Facebook delete the app?
- Will WhatsApp start to lose trust from its users or will this enhance trust?
Or, will they be swept away by the need to stay current. Especially when entire companies and other social groupings use the app to communicate everything from highly-sensitive financial matters to school lifts and playdates.
While the traditional WhatsApp and Facebook platforms have completely different intended uses, a natural affiliation exists between Facebook and Instagram. This stems from their ability to share photos and other marketing material. From now on, you will not be able to subscribe to Instagram as ‘moneybags33’ or ‘girlwithswooshtatoo’. This means if you’re involved in the marketing of products or services, you’ll be much more ‘out there’ than before. Revenue should increase dramatically due to increased transparency.
Facebook scores and maintains its growth
For Facebook, increased data-sharing and easier identification of users across the three platforms should result in improved ads targeting. Zuckerberg argues that targeting ads based on interests is quite different from selling people’s data. The Facebook CEO has been investing in both artificial intelligence and employees. This job role is to route out anything that violates the social network’s legal fundamentals.
This investment strategy follows a difficult 2018, in which many cases related to lack of data protection, invaded privacy and manipulation for political purposes, came to light. But, in spite of this, Facebook revenue has continued to grow – to US$13.7bn at last count – and numbers of users are seeing no slowdown.
What do the stats say about Facebook?
According to Statistica.com, Facebook had 2.27 billion monthly active users. These are users who had logged into the app over the past 30 days. This data is as of the third quarter of 2018, making it the most popular social network worldwide.
You can take a look at the Statista graph
Regulators grumpy, users in the dark about Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp merging DM’s
It remains to be seen if the Federal Trade Commission will attempt to carve up the ‘family of apps’ once the software merger happens. The original founders of WhatsApp and Instagram have already departed from the group under a cloud. Their exit was motivated by Zuckerberg’s constant striving for ‘integration and control’. Bought for $19bn in 2014 and $715m in 2012, WhatsApp and Instagram have grown to become crucial aspects of the mothership’s growth model. But, to keep the numbers soaring, transparency over how the family of apps will operate in tandem will need to be communicated. Data gathering is another hot topic that would need clarity and transparency. These are crucial elements that Facebook would need to play open cards with. Given the merger won’t happen before 2020 there is still time for Facebook to put to rest all the unknowns.
Savvy Sprout – Digital & social media specialists
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