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Facebook Making Waves With New Chat Rooms, AR, And IG Stories Built To Go Viral

What It Means For The Future of Customer Experience

Matt Wujciak


Facebook taking a page out of Zoom University’s book

Modern music icon and influencer, Melissa Viviane Jefferson, known professionally as Lizzo, recently sang a version of the Beatles’ 1969 track "All Together Now" as part of a digital marketing campaign to introduce Facebook's Messenger Rooms, a new video chat platform.

The ad announces the launch of Facebook’s virtual group chat that promises a blend of sharable ease and privacy options for consumers, allowing up to 50 people into one group video chat with no time limit. Chats can be shared via links or be kept private.

Created entirely in quarantine, the visually fluid spot shows group photos quickly transitioning into group chats for a variety of consumer benefits.

Rooms enters a crowded but surging marketplace, with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Houseparty (co-watching features enabling users to gather together to virtually participate in concerts and video events as a group), and of course, the reigning champion of the remote era, Zoom. All of these platforms are enjoying big upswings in usage in recent months as folks continue socially distancing, sheltering in place, and re-thinking the future of remote work (and virtual social gatherings). 

For example, Zoom's daily meeting participation surged to 300 million in April, compared to 200 million the previous month (and those March numbers, of course, greatly top the February numbers).

Read More: Special Report Series: State of the Voice Channel

But virtual meetings and chat rooms aren’t the only tech oceans into which Facebook is dipping its toes.

The rise of augmented reality

In the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns of brick-and-mortar stores, retailers using augmented reality (AR) are enjoying a 19% spike in customer engagement, according to data from Vertebrae. The customer conversion rate increases by 90% for customers engaging with AR versus those that don't.

Vertebrae is a Facebook AR partner and works with brands like Coach, Crate and Barrel, Toyota, 1-800-Flowers, CB2, Adidas and many others – an interesting variety of brands. It goes to show that AR can and will contribute to the future of customer experience and customer service across a number of retail industries, from sports apparel to floristry.

Read More: How-to Guide: How to Improve Your Customer Experience ROI with Better Conversational AI

An excerpt from a recent article with Facebook partner’s, Vertebrae’ Founder and CEO Vincent Cacace sums up this concept best: 

  1. Q. The COVID-19 pandemic is clearly altering and will further alter how retailers approach customer experience and engagement  -- and your own client data reveals AR engagement is up nearly 20% and the conversion rate increases by 90% for consumers engaging with AR compared to those that don't. What is driving that behavior – is it the consumer embracing AR or retailers doing a better job with AR?
  2. A. A mixture of both. Consumers are displaying a higher level of consideration as they make purchases online for items that they would typically go to a store to see, touch, and feel. Because of this, they are more open to trying newer experiences like 3D & AR that answer questions and give them the confidence to buy - like “how big is it?”; “how does it look on me or how does it look in my space?” and “what are the details?” Another reason for increased consideration is that they definitely don’t want to make a trip to the post office to process a return.

Even before COVID-19, shoppers were telling CX analysts that these tools had value -- more than half of participants in a survey said they wanted AR help visualizing how products would look in their environments, and a quarter wanted to virtually try on new makeup or clothing. And demand has only grown since then.

Another reason 3D and AR shopping experiences are especially helpful right now is that they’re designed for mobile, which becomes increasingly more important as consumers increasingly shop online. 3D and AR solve some of the top hurdles to mobile conversion, by utilizing all the features of the device like the depth camera, gyroscope, webGL, and more. 

Speaking of mobile:

Retail Instagram stories built to go viral

For many organizations, regardless of how big we are (or were), CX starts with how we convey messages to customers, and what cost-effective marketing campaigns we’re relying on. 

Roughly two weeks ago, Facebook took yet another move to help businesses in the digital era of customer centricity and experiential marketing. The tech giant announced that Instagram (owned by Facebook) is making it easier for customer service oriented businesses to feature gift cards, online food orders and fundraisers in their profiles or stories, geo-locally targeted at restaurants, retailers, and other small businesses. 

Instagram users can tap on a gift card or food order to make a purchase through a company’s site. Fundraisers created by a business or its supporter will now be opening on Facebook as well. 

Users can spread the word by re-sharing the stickers in Stories, to encourage their friends and followers to also support small businesses (and ramp up sales for local ones) if they have had (or anticipate) a good customer experience, creating potential viral marketing publicity for smaller retailers.

While bad customer experiences cost companies revenue, great experiences drive spiraling advocacy. In fact, a good customer experience makes a person five times more likely to recommend a company and more likely to purchase from that brand in the future. Social media forums like Facebook and Instagram have recognized this trend years ago and are now paying particularly close attention to it. 

Some 7.5 million small businesses are at risk of permanently closing over the next five months, should the pandemic and economic shutdown continue, according to a survey published earlier this month by Main Street America, a network of 300,000+ small businesses.

Small businesses are at the center of Facebook’s targeted audience, and profit margins for that matter. The social giant reports that there are 140 million businesses across the Facebook apps and 8 million of them are advertisers.

As seen in CNBC, the majority of them are small and medium-size businesses. On Instagram, 90% of accounts follow at least one business, according to the company. And consumers like having those brands there. A Facebook survey found 76% of Instagram users say brands on the platform are “entertaining” and 77% say the Instagram profiles are “creative.”

No one’s safe from the behavioral economic consequences brought upon by the coronavirus. But adapting to the right CX trends will give you the best chance at being on the favorable side of financial Darwinism. 

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