Messaging is the new social feed, with more and more users opting to share updates via more intimate circles within DMs, as opposed to posting to their main, public stream.
A key reason behind this is the divisive nature of conversations within social apps, with more political and topical discussion leading to argument, and often causing more angst than it’s worth.
You’ve likely experienced this yourself – how many times have you felt an urge to post something, started typing it out, then thought ‘nah, not worth it’? You might have an opinion on the issue of the day, but is that opinion strong enough to defend your position if you get challenged, and do you really want to wade into an argument with randoms in the comments?
For most, they don’t – which then pushes more people towards more private sharing. Because most people have simply had enough of the back and forth that can come with public posting. And that’s now leading to a significant shift in focus for the main social apps.
Meta, which has seen a big shift towards engagement within messaging, is leaning into this, with new additions like ‘Channels’ on Instagram, which is essentially broadcast messaging, and the re-integration of Messenger into the main Facebook app.
That could have big impacts on the way that people interact across Facebook and Instagram – while Instagram’s also experimenting with enhanced sharing options in DMs, like highlighting previously shared posts within your inbox.
The implications of such for marketing are not entirely clear, as people are still discovering content on Facebook and IG, but are sharing what they find in messages. That suggests that social feeds are still solid options for reaching your audience, but for interaction, brands may want to consider how they can incorporate DMs, and provide more ways for customers to message them directly, as opposed to seeking direct engagement in app.
Which could also skew your metrics. As Meta makes a bigger push on DM interaction, that will inevitably have some impact on post engagement, as people will increasingly be sharing in private, as opposed to commenting. For example, you’ll often see people tagging each other in the comments, but over time, that’s reducing in frequency, as people forward the link via message instead.
That’ll likely see your page engagement decline, in terms of comments, while people seeing such in a message may also be less likely to click through for further context, as they can see the full link preview within the messaging thread. Previously, they would have had to visit your page to understand the tag, but now, with links in message streams, that won’t be the same, which could mask the full impact of your Facebook and IG reach.
So how do you measure it? Well, it depends on your focus goal, but click-throughs and page visits will likely become more critical indicators, along with, of course, conversions and other direct metrics. It could well be that you end up generating a heap of conversions via messaging discussion, which could be confusing to track, at least based on traditional metrics.
But this, increasingly, is the way that Meta is headed, and as more interactions shift to DMs, other platforms will follow suit.
Which means that you need to consider how people are connecting, how they’re discussing your products, and how they’re seeking to connect.
There may well be new opportunities in direct chat discussion, and building more dedicated, direct engagement methods.