The ’social inbox’ will give users the option to use an @facebook.com email address, so they can send messages to the inbox in Facebook as well as integrating text and chat.
Private messages from friends, whether sent by mail, chat or text, will now be presented to users in one thread. Facebook has also changed the way the inbox prioritises messages, with only those from Facebook friends going into the inbox and messages from anyone else going into an “Others” folder.
The privacy settings can also be changed so messages from anyone other than someone’s Facebook friends won’t be received at all.
On the company blog, Facebook engineer Joel Seligstein says: “This kind of message control is pretty unprecedented and people have been wanting to do this with email (and phone calls) for a long time.
“It reverses the approach to preventing unwanted contact. Instead of having to worry about your email address getting out, you’re now in control of who can reach you.”
Facebook has updated other functionality, allowing users to search by people’s name or by topics in conversations. They will also be able to add other people into messages, forward them and add attachments.
Simon Mansell, CEO of agency TBG Digital, one of the agencies using the Facebook Advertising API to deliver display ads for brands, says it offers advertisers an opportunity because more than 350 million Facebook users use messaging.
He adds: “For advertisers and agencies, the message is clear: more ad revenue needs to be allocated to Facebook and social media than the traditional routes as consumers engage in a more fluid, interactive and rapid social discourse,” he said. “Facebook’s announcement may not be an email killer but it is a strong indicator of the direction in which communication services are moving.”
Augie Ray, research analyst at Forrester, says: “Facebook isn’t interested in being a tool for your flood of bills, email newsletters or other communications, it’s about facilitating and enhancing your personal relationships. In that way, it won’t replace Gmail, but it does want to be the platform for consumers’ personal relationships and communications and leave the boring stuff to Gmail and others.”
This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk