Facebook’s Snap Release
It’s been a big month or so for the world’s most popular messaging platforms. Can Facebook’s Messenger Day compete with the Gen Y juggernaut of Snapchat and its sweet new gear?
Messenger Day rolls out to Australia
With more than 150 million active daily users, much has been written about the potential for brands to harness Snapchat and its Stories functionality in their campaigns. More so since the July update that added Snapchat Memories to its feature-set, allowing marketers to sidestep its ephemeral limitations by accessing past snaps to build more crafted experiences for target audiences.
It’s been working, too. Some brands – and individuals who are effectively brands in their own right – that do Snapchat well include Heineken, DJ Khaled, the Kardashians/Jenners, General Electric, and Gatorade (whose one-off Super Bowl filter allowing users to dunk a virtual Gatorade cooler over people’s video selfies generated roughly 160 million impressions).
Facebook first tried to edge in on Snapchat’s territory with Instagram Stories in August. Now, in a classic case of tech-will-eat-itself, they’ve introduced very similar set of features to their core platform, using their Messenger app as a vehicle. The result is Messenger Day, which has recently been rolled out in Australia following similar trials in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary (all regions where Snapchat has a much smaller footprint than elsewhere).
Many brands have already moved into Facebook Messenger, for customer service (chat-bots are a popular choice) or for sharing news updates directly with followers. With over a billion active monthly users as of July this year (sending upwards of 60 billion messages a day), Messenger Day could certainly capture a lot of potential eyeballs for companies, if the platform and its functionality are opened up to businesses.
At first glance, Messenger Day offers very similar functionality to Snapchat, although to hear Facebook Product Management Director Peter Martinazzi describe it, Messenger Day represents the culmination of two years development. Martinazzi says it offers a way for users to ‘upgrade their conversations’.
Users can take snaps from directly within Messenger, and add stickers and comments to the pictures. Graphic filters and stickers are available for users to customise their snaps, and images can be shared between individuals or with groups, with anything shared disappearing after 24 hrs.
It all sounds very familiar.
So should Snapchat be worried?
Well, yes and no. Messenger Day – as yet – doesn’t layer in Snapchat’s popular facial filters. You know the ones, and likely have a favourite of your own. However, Facebook’s acquisition of face-swapping app developer MSQRD in March suggests that such advanced lens features are very much on the cards for Messenger Day (let’s hope they work better than this).
It’s likely then that Snap Inc. anticipated a move like this some time ago. This would also help explain to some extent the development and forthcoming release of their Spectacles hardware, opening up a new market and revenue stream in a platform pivot that has generated a lot of interest.
After all, they’re no longer just an application. They’re a camera company, with a tangible piece of wearable tech literally popping up in vending machines across the US as we speak, causing massive lines and huge demand for the $130 (US) shades.
How it all shakes out from here for Facebook’s new Messenger functionality remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: it’s unlikely Snapchat’s core audience – the highly sought after 14-25s – will take to the new Messenger Day, and until it’s made clearer what the real opportunities are for marketers, everything is speculation.
If anything, it feels like Facebook are treading water with this, while they figure out how social and mobile VR can flip the board, and really start a new game for them. That’s when things could get very interesting indeed.
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