By January 2018, it was recorded that WhatsApp had 1.5 billion users worldwide, with 60 billion messages being sent on the platform every single day. When the company was founded in 2009 by Jam Koum, data privacy was a founding principle, and part of what made the free messaging platform so popular. In 2014, WhatApp was sold for $19 billion to Facebook, who assured that this principle of data protection would be continued.

Facebook messaging merger

Moving forward to January 2019, and Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive and co-founder of Facebook, announced plans to change the way Facebook Messenger works. The plan involves utilising the three most widely used digital messaging services globally – Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – all of which are owned by Zuckerberg.

Cross-platform messaging abilities

In the long-term, Zuckerberg’s messaging merger could mean that users on any of these three main messaging platforms could converse across the different channels freely, in a seamless messaging experience. This is something that could improve cross-channel conversation and allow brands to tailor their digital strategy more easily across all platforms.

Challenges of a messaging merger

Perhaps the most difficult challenge to overcome within this messaging merger is bringing together the different data sharing abilities. For example, Messenger offers end-to-end encryption in “secret chat” mode only, compared to WhatsApp, which uses this as standard, all the time. Combining this with providing a completely seamless experience for the user may prove challenging.

What does this mean for the future of marketing?

User understanding

At the moment, different platforms require different levels of information about users. For example, Facebook Messenger and Instagram require a full name for users, compared to WhatsApp, which can just use a phone number. Linking these platforms together could help to build up greater information about each user, by combining data from each of their platforms, which could ultimately aid marketing strategy.

Brand awareness and engagement

Despite the challenges, if these data protection issues can be overcome, then it could mean that brands are able to communicate across all three channels whilst only owning one of them. It could open a wider advertising space and increased opportunity for brand awareness and overall audience reach. For example, brand with a chatbot setup with their Messenger could also speak to users of Instagram and WhatsApp, and Instagram comments could be managed in Messenger, allowing a more specific follow-up strategy to re-engage users.

When will the merger happen?

The proposed messaging merger, according to Zuckerberg, will be in place by “early 2020”, however it remains to be seen what this will look like exactly.

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