The Facebook Messenger app, which recently hit 900 million users, launched two new features in early April. All Messenger accounts now have Messenger Links located at m.me/[username]. To chat with a friend, a user can type his friend’s username after m.me/ to open up a direct message on the Messenger app. Another new feature is “Messenger codes” that users can scan to initiate activity, such as opening a chat or adding a contact.
If these two features sound familiar, it’s probably because Snapchat already has them.
Facebook has been experimenting with Snapchat-like features since the latter app was launched in 2011. Some examples include ephemeral messages, which began beta-testing in November 2015, and photo editing, launched in the same year.
Facebook’s newest updates to Messenger are hot on the heels of Snapchat’s recent roll-out of new functionalities, such as video and audio calls, video and audio notes, and the ability to send photos during a video or audio call.
Previously Facebook had tried to capitalize on Snapchat’s younger market by releasing a similar app, Poke, in 2012. After the social media giant failed to acquire Snapchat in 2013, Facebook launched Slingshot two years later. Both Poke and Slingshot have been largely unsuccessful at attracting Snapchat users.
Although Facebook continues to rule in the social media platform arena, Snapchat is one competitor that they can’t afford to ignore. Snapchat has 100 million daily active users, composed mostly of millennials. The app’s video views average 7 billion per day, an impressive number when one considers that Facebook video views on both mobile and desktop average 8 million per day.
Unlike Snapchat, however, Messenger remains focused on e-commerce. Its two newest features are designed to help consumers find businesses as well as facilitate direct communication between them.
Meanwhile, Snapchat remains focused on being a fun, “human” way to interact through a smartphone. That, however, doesn’t mean that marketers aren’t sitting up and taking notice: Many major brands are turning to Snapchat to advertise their products and services. There’s speculation in some quarters that Snapchat’s high engagement rates will eventually pull the majority of ad spending away from Facebook.
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