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The Facebook merge has started.

The social media giant’s move to integrate its trifecta of apps — Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram — is beginning with its rebranding in Google Play and Apple’s app store.

The new app names? “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook”.

“Considering that WhatsApp and Instagram represent Facebook’s biggest growth potential, it makes perfect business and marketing sense to bring all three platforms together under one unified brand umbrella,” explains Michael Ashley, vice president and managing creative director for SCOUT Ad Agency. “Everything becomes a lot more seamless for marketers”.

Good for them. But, no big deal for you, right?

Well, to be fair, that’s just the start of what is slated to be a much deeper integration of the three platforms. This change could potentially disrupt how much of the world outside of China utilises the internet — assuming it’s adopted in Australia and elsewhere.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already explained that the company is working toward integrating the apps to build a unified architecture of streamlined messaging across the platforms.

“It’s still early days,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s the direction we should be going with more things in the future”.

The goal, according to Zuckerberg, is to make life easier for users, so they don’t have to switch between the apps.

To further explain, he pointed toward the Marketplace feature that Facebook has developed to compete with eBay. In this case, links to buy products are provided via Facebook’s Messenger app, which means Instagram and WhatsApp users are forced to switch to Messenger to access them.

If you’re wondering what all of this has to do with real estate, it’s this particular Marketplace feature that you should be focusing on as part of this Facebook merge.

Ads Going More Into Messenger

If you’ve ever felt like Facebook was literally listening to your conversations, you’re really not going to like its newest idea.

A patent published in July 2019 details how Facebook could place targeted advertising inside of private conversations in Messenger. The company has allowed businesses to run ads in its messaging app for some time, but has stopped short of placing ads inside of users’ private conversations.

The patent application, however, suggests the company may be thinking about significantly escalating the amount of advertising in its chat application.

The application, which was filed in April as a continuation of a 2015 filing but just made public, describes ways in which businesses could use location data and the content of conversations to surface targeted ads directly in users’ chats via a “plug-in.” The patent application was granted in May.

There is a clear trend within the younger generations of moving away from one of the original features that made social media platforms boom in the past — broadcasting their activities to the world. Younger social media users have shown they prefer communicating to fewer people in a closed forum, as compared with older generations who have grown up with social media’s ‘broadcasting’ mentality.

Remember way back when…?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others all held users’ attention by allowing them to broadcast any aspect of their lives to a larger audience. However, as far back as 2014, the founder of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, pointed out that younger generations were more focused on building intimate connections with a few real friends versus developing audiences comprising of near-strangers.

Many members of younger generations keep Instagram accounts private and rely more on the group messaging features of social media apps instead of broadcasting status updates on their public profiles.

The Facebook merge is a signal that Zuckerberg and his team have noticed the trend and anticipate it being a game-changer. The company has announced that the merging of Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger will create a new, interconnected, “privacy-focused” social network.

The key in continuing to access the more than 2 billion monthly users of this trifecta is to dial your marketing into the private messaging side of those platforms.

According to a Facebook survey, among people who message businesses, the majority say that being able to do so helps them feel more confident about the brand. However, Facebook’s Messenger Ads present a whole new level of gaining access to consumers.

These ads appear in the Chats tab of the Messenger app. When they open it, “they’ll be sent to a detailed view within Messenger with a call-to-action that will take them to the destination you chose during ads creation”.

As with ads placed through other Facebook platforms, your ad will be delivered to consumers that are believed to fit your target market best. The Facebook merge will most likely open the door for marketers to reach inside the chat and DM features of WhatsApp and Instagram, as well.

Impacts on Real Estate Portals

As Facebook has hinted, the path the company is headed down with its merger of Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp will not stop with messaging services. The company’s venture into cryptocurrency with Libra points toward the social media giant looking at the WeChat model as the future of social media platforms.

WeChat is so much more than a messaging platform. The Chinese product is an all-encompassing social, commerce, entertainment, and communication platform.

Chinese nationals even use WeChat to broker sales of US homes. Emma Hao, who sold $14 million New York City apartment through the app, highlights just one example of the possibilities that exist on a completely integrated app.

Final Thoughts: What the Facebook merge means for real estate agents

It may be tempting to sit and wait to see how far the Facebook merge goes with integrating the platforms and additional services. However, as a marketer (of which you are), you don’t want to be left behind as other real estate businesses in your local market leap ahead in usage of these new tools. There is a growing number of real estate businesses who are now in-sourcing their social media advertising and knowledge of this space and the tools now available to target and re-target potential buyers and sellers.

Want to know more about how your marketing strategy needs to be redesigned in line with the changes at Facebook? Check out our Social Media Advertising Masterclass series

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