Last month Facebook launched its new integrated messaging service. The service, known as Social Inbox, is designed to make spontaneous chat easier by integrating different communication methods – email Instant Messaging, SMS etc – and delivering them to a single centralised portal. Facebook users will not need to worry about which communication channel to use for different groups of friends because the service automatically works this out.
The exciting thing about Social inbox, as far as Slepe Communications is concerned, is that although we are living in an era dominated by the mobile Internet and Smartphones, SMS is playing a vital role in the service. Why would that be? Well, iPhone penetration, for example, is still relatively low in global terms (around 6% in the UK), which means that there are still a lot of less sophisticated phones in use that are not 3G-compatible. All mobile phones, however, support SMS, so given that there are more SIM cards than people in the UK, it is easy to understand why SMS has been included in the service.
It has long been anticipated that social chat services will eventually eradicate SMS messaging. However this has not happened yet. If Facebook’s owners can see the importance of ensuring that SMS forms part of the new service, you can be confident in thinking that it’s going to be around for some time yet.
Why is SMS still popular? Well for starters, it’s unobtrusive. You can send a message from any public place without disturbing other people. It’s private because there is no danger of being overheard. It’s quick and last but not least, SMS is about as spontaneous as telecommunications can get.
Over the forthcoming months, Facebook’s 500+ million users will be given an @facebook.com email address. The service will filter your messages, so those received from your good friends, for example will be delivered to your social inbox and all other messages will be delivered to a different inbox. Because Facebook is based on “opt in” principals, you will only receive messages you want.
As far as commercial organisations are concerned, Facebook’s new service could offer some challenges, but it also offers some exciting opportunities. Although big brands will not be able to send messages to peoples’ inboxes en masse, it is likely to encourage them to increase their fan base. By increasing the number of “likers”, the social inbox is also expected to provide new opportunities for e-marketing campaigns
Brands will still be able to incorporate SMS in their overall marketing strategies, which is important, because it is a well known fact that SMS is the preferred response mechanism for many consumers. As far as we are concerned this is very good news. Consumers will be able to interact from their PCs using our email to SMS service, as well as from their phones, and businesses will be able to seamlessly integrate our email to SMS software into their internal web applications using our developers API.
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