Marketing with a focus on digital

Messenger Day's Identity Crisis

Today Facebook announced the global release of a new feature they've been testing regionally for months now. On the surface, "Messenger Day" looks like another Facebook clone of Snapchat's Stories feature. But is it? 

I'm having a hard time figuring that out. Specifically, I can't tell what Facebook's goal was here. The official announcement was worded as another one of the good ol' fashioned Snapchat ripoffs we've become accustomed to with Facebook. On the other hand, interviews of Facebook's VP of Messaging, David Marcus, position the feature as clearly different from Stories -- of both the Snapchat and Instagram variety. 

DISSECTING THE DIFFERENCES

What differentiators were highlighted in the interviews that didn't quite make it into the final cut of the press release? The main focus was on practicality. The interviews stress the unique qualities of messaging apps as places to make things happen, and position Day as an extension of that. Marcus wants people to use their Messenger Day to connect, coordinate, and plan -- or at least provide context that enriches the planning that happens in conventional threads.

But, again, that theme did not make it into the official announcement. The video embedded in the announcement hints at the potential for some sub-features to help with what Marcus focused on, but that's as far as it goes. It is positioned as a traditional Stories format feature.

SO WHAT? 

Who cares if a VP went a little rogue in a few product launch interviews? Well, if it signals a strategy disagreement, I do. Facebook is openly positioning this feature as its entry point to monetizing Messenger through advertising. Such a tension could have a serious impact on how effectively the platform reacts to user behavior to optimize the experience. Since Stories launched on Instagram we've seen too many changes to count. If Facebook leadership and the Messenger Day team aren't on the same page, the feature could stagnate. 

Anything other than a robust development map driven by a clear vision would turn this feature into just another broadcast channel. That's not valuable to me. As a marketer, I'd love to see Facebook develop Messenger Day as a collaborative, action-oriented feature. That user mindset would make ads much more effective, and that would be a win for both Facebook and for marketers. It could turn out to be the best place to find "doers" outside of search, and that would be a game changer.

Plus, at this point the world has enough places to post Stories. I mean, come on. 

Photo credit: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/03/share-your-day-in-messenger/