Cillian Bracken Conway
6th Mar, 2016

Image showing widgets of Facebook and Messenger

On its annual developer conference F8 in April, Facebook is set to announce its move to allow publishers to distribute content through their popular messaging app.

According to people familiar with the plans of the social media giant, publishers would soon be able to use Facebook Messenger to automatically publish content.

During last year’s F8, the plan was to turn messenger into a platform unto itself, and not just a chat app. A report by TechCrunch revealed that Facebook is testing a tool that allows developers to build chat bots that can be plugged into Messenger, expanding its functionality as a messaging service. Through this, people can do different things through a conversation thread in the social network’s messaging service, such as request an Uber.

Earlier this year, German newspaper Bild is reported to be testing a new way to deliver its news – via Facebook Messenger. This is based on a report by NiemanLab. Users who are interested to receive news updates through the mobile messaging app would have to subscribe by sending a message to Bild Ticker.

Once a conversation is started, the publisher’s chat bot would send a message that gives an overview about a particular news story, complete with a link to the full article in Bild’s website.

How the German tabloid used Messenger is said to be an example of what publishers can do once Facebook officially allows them to automatically distribute content through the mobile messaging app.

Another example was through the use of the Notify app that the social network launched last fall. The standalone iOS app gives a selected number of publishers access to lock screens. The app pushes alerts to mobile phones, providing information of headlines throughout the day. People who subscribe to the push notifications will receive headlines published by Mashable, The New York Times, Fox Sports, People, Vice and other publishers.

How the publishers would make money through the use of Facebook Messenger is still unclear. But reports from TechCrunch shows that the social media giant is planning to let businesses pay, so they can send a message to people they have already started conversations with. This means publishers would be able to sell through sponsored messages sent using Facebook Messenger.

Mobile messaging apps have become the shiny new platform for publishers that Messenger is not the only one occupying the messaging app space. Kik is also a messaging app that is being used by NBC News, The Washington Post and Buzzfeed. Line is being used by The Economist. Viber by The Huffington Post and BBC News. WhatsApp is also used by BBC News.

The fact remains, however, that Facebook Messenger rules the space, especially for the U.S. audience. The social network claims that more than 800 million users worldwide used Facebook Messenger each month. It also has more active users than any other message apps.

What should marketers do?

Given the popularity of Facebook Messenger, they should be ready to use the app once content distribution is allowed through the message service.