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Facebook Messages and email marketing: What impact?

The rumor had been circulating for several months. It is now a reality, Facebook has just launched its own webmail ... well, not quite. Facebook Messages is in fact a " social inbox "which brings together different media:

  • SMS
  • Facebook internal messaging
  • Facebook Chat
  • Email

It is understandable, Facebook Messages is not strictly speaking a webmailIt will be possible to use Facebook Messages, as it will bring together several different communication systems. It is also worth noting that to use Facebook Messages, it will not be mandatory to use an email address. The email function is optional!

  • Here are some interesting details:
    • Facebook Messages, a bit like Gmail, is oriented conversation
    • No subjectlines
    • No CC or BCC, but conversations can be conducted in multiple
    • The email address is also the profile name Facebook (profile : = email:
    • Communication is immediate (just press "enter")

We can easily compare Facebook Messages to Google Wave, but with the advantage for Facebook to have a huge user base that will be able to take in hand this new tool very quickly. Another advantage compared to Google Wave, Facebook does not claim to make a revolution, but simply an evolution of its current messaging system.

What impact for email marketing?

As you can see, the email address is only a part of what Facebook Messages offers. But it is still the part that interests us the most on this blog. Before the official announcement, most of the articles about the release of "Facebook Mail" talked about the place it would take on a global scale. With 350 million current Facebook Mail users, this new service should easily enter the top 5 worldwide alongside Hotmail/Live, Yahoo! and Gmail. There has been a lot of talk about a Gmail killer, but by Zuckerberg's own admission, that's not the point of the concept.

Facebook by building a "social inbox" shows the way to a new way to counter spam. If Gmail and Hotmail with their Priority Inbox and Sweep are trying to make the fight against spam more effective, Facebook is doing even more.

Indeed, by default only messages from users' direct contacts will arrive in the inbox. Messages from strangers will be available, but separately, in an "Others" box. It will be necessary for the user to intervene in order for them to appear in the main inbox in the future. This is an advanced form of "Safe Senders" since all correspondents will have to be approved by the owner of the messaging system for their messages to appear in the "social inbox". This is exactly how Facebook describes the concept on its blog:

"With new Messages, your Inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into an Other folder where you can look at them separately. If someone you know isn't on Facebook, that person's email will initially go into the Other folder. You can easily move that conversation into the Inbox, and all the future conversations with that friend will show up there."

It will not be easy for email marketing programs to reach addresses. It will be necessary to both target email addresses, but also try to capture leads via Facebook fan pages and applications in order to communicate effectively. This promises to be a very interesting challenge.

And the rest?

In its system, Facebook has removed the notion of "subjectline", but if ever an email from outside arrives in the Facebook inbox with a subjectline, it will be placed in bold at the top of the email.

There is still a lot of information missing about this new messaging system. Here is a list of questions that still need to be clarified in the future:

  • What are the signature/identification technologies, DKIM, SPF, SenderID, ... that will be used by Facebook?
  • Will Facebook use technologies like the List-unsubscribe ?
  • Will there be any Whitelisting that will be integrated into Facebook's "webmail"?
  • Has Facebook developed anti-spam and reputation technologies or will it rely on third-party technologies?
  • Since the username of the Facebook profile is also the email address, won't this open the door to spam of all styles, even though they will probably arrive in the "Others" box or in the "Spam" box?
  • It will be possible to give the right to applications to send messages ... isn't the risk of abuse too great?
  • What impact will Facebook Messages have on themobile email marketing ?

The biggest conundrum remains: How many users will actually use Facebook's email address? That's a question we'll have to revisit in a few months.

We can see that we still lack elements to evaluate the real impact of Facebook Messages on email marketing. See you in a few months for a more informed evaluation!

Some links: You can request an invitation now Everything you should know about Messages in the Facebook Help Center

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