Tag Archive | "facebook-messenger"

Facebook Ups Its Sticker Game As The First Paid Packs Arrive For Messenger

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

picocandy 3

Facebook Tests Disappearing Messages for Messenger

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Snapchat should feel very flattered by a feature Facebook is testing in France for its Messenger application.

BuzzFeed reported that the social network is testing an option that would allow Messenger users to have their messages disappear after one hour—a feature that should sound very familiar to Snapchat users.

According to BuzzFeed, Messenger users who are part of the test will see an hourglass icon that can be tapped to turn the feature on and off.

Facebook told BuzzFeed it may expand testing to other areas and shared the following statement:

We’re excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared toward making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most. Starting today, we’re conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they’re sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger. We look forward to hearing people’s feedback as they give it a try.

Readers: Would you like to see Facebook add this feature to Messenger?


Screenshots courtesy of BuzzFeed.

Article courtesy of SocialTimes | RSS Feed

Facebook Has Its Hooks in 84% of Internet Users (Infographic)

Tags: ,

How dominant is Facebook among Internet users? This dominant: 84 percent of online adults aged 16 through 64 have accounts on some combination of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

And according to GlobalWebIndex, that figure rises to 90 percent in the 16-through-24 age group.

GWI said in an email to SocialTimes:

What’s also striking here is just how dominant Facebook has become in certain markets. As well as scoring 80 percent-plus in 28 of the countries tracked in our chart, Facebook membership of some type is near universal in places like Mexico, Indonesia and Vietnam.

These figures are extremely encouraging for the company’s future expansion plans. With growth now coming mostly from fast-growth markets (where Internet populations continue to increase rapidly), this trend suggests that the vast majority of new internet users over the coming years will join at least one Facebook-owned service.

Readers: What did you think of GWI’s findings?

Facebook Changes Definition of Monthly Active Users

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Facebook addressed skepticism about the accuracy of its monthly active user figures by changing the way it defines MAUs.

The social network said in an email to SocialTimes that it “wanted to provide a cleaner metric,” so starting with its third-quarter-2015 earnings report, it no longer counts what it called “third-party pings,” or people who did not access Facebook itself, but shared content or activity via Facebook Login-integrated websites or applications.

Facebook’s previous definition of MAUs follows:

We define a monthly active user as a registered Facebook user who logged in and visited Facebook through our website or a mobile device, used our Messenger app (and is also a registered Facebook user) or took an action to share content or activity with his or her Facebook friends or connections via a third-party website or application that is integrated with Facebook, in the last 30 days as of the date of measurement.

The revised definition, which was included in the company’s Form 10-Q filing for the third quarter of 2015, follows:

We define a monthly active user as a registered Facebook user who logged in and visited Facebook through our website or a mobile device, or used our Messenger app (and is also a registered Facebook user), in the last 30 days as of the date of measurement.

The new definition didn’t hurt Facebook’s momentum, as the social network reported 1.545 billion MAUs at the end of the third quarter of 2015, up from 1.49 billion in the previous quarter and 1.35 billion in the year-ago period.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s revised definition of MAUs?


Article courtesy of SocialTimes | RSS Feed

Facebook Updates Progress on Artificial Intelligence

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Facebook offered an update on its advances in artificial intelligence, touching on object detection, natural language understanding, predictive learning and planning.

Chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer detailed the social network’s advances in posts in its Newsroom and its engineering blog.

Object detection

Schroepfer said the Facebook AI Research team will present a new paper at AI conference NIPS 2015 next month detailing its state-of-the-art object-detection system, which segments images 30 percent quicker than previous industry benchmarks, using 10 times less training data.

He also shared the image below, writing:

How many zebras do you see in the photo? Hard to tell, right? Imagine how hard this is for a machine, which doesn’t even see the stripes—it sees only pixels. Our researchers have been working to train systems to recognize patterns in the pixels so they can be as good as or better than humans at distinguishing objects in a photo from one another—known in the field as “segmentation”—and then identifying each object.


Natural language understanding

Schroepfer wrote about the combination of the Memory Networks (MemNets) system Facebook introduced last year with image-recognition technology, which the social network refers to as VQA, or visual Q&A. He added:

MemNets add a type of short-term memory to the convolutional neural networks that power our deep-learning systems, allowing those systems to understand language more like a human would. Earlier this year, I showed you this demo of MemNets at work, reading and then answering questions about a short synopsis of The Lord of the Rings. Now we’ve scaled this system from being able to read and answer questions on tens of lines of text to being able to perform the same task on data sets exceeding 100,000 questions, an order of magnitude larger than previous benchmarks.

Predictive learning

The Facebook AI Research team developed a system that can “watch” a series of visual tests and predict the outcome, and Schroepfer wrote that the system is now making the correct predictions 90 percent of the time, which is better than the performance of most humans.


Schroepfer described how the Facebook AI Research team is using classic board game Go in its efforts:

Another area of longer-term research is teaching our systems to plan. One of the things we’ve built to help do this is an AI player for the board game Go. Using games to train machines is a pretty common approach in AI research. In the last couple of decades, AI systems have become stronger than humans at games like checkers, chess and even Jeopardy. But despite close to five decades of work on AI Go players, the best humans are still better than the best AI players. This is due in part to the number of different variations in Go. After the first two moves in a chess game, for example, there are 400 possible next moves. In Go, there are close to 130,000.

We’ve been working on our Go player for only a few months, but it’s already on par with the other AI-powered systems that have been published, and it’s already as good as a very strong human player. We’ve achieved this by combining the traditional search-based approach—modeling out each possible move as the game progresses—with a pattern-matching system built by our computer vision team. The best human Go players often take advantage of their ability to recognize patterns on the board as the game evolves, and with this approach our AI player is able to mimic that ability—with very strong early results.

Finally, Schroepfer offered a look at how M, the virtual digital assistant being tested for the social network’s Messenger applications, is incorporating AI technology:

This is a huge technology challenge—it’s so hard that, starting out, M is a human-trained system: Human operators evaluate the AI’s suggested responses, and then they produce responses while the AI observes and learns from them.

We’d ultimately like to scale this service to billions of people around the world, but for that to be possible, the AI will need to be able to handle the majority of requests itself, with no human assistance. And to do that, we need to build all the different capabilities described above—language, vision, prediction and planning—into M so that it can understand the context behind each request and plan ahead at every step of the way. This is a really big challenge, and we’re just getting started. But the early results are promising. For example, we recently deployed our new MemNets system into M, and it has accelerated M’s learning: When someone asks M for help ordering flowers, M now knows that the first two questions to ask are, “What’s your budget?” and “Where are you sending them?”

One last point here: Some of you may look at this and say, “So what? A human could do all of those things.” And you’re right, of course—but most of us don’t have dedicated personal assistants. And that’s the “superpower” offered by a service like M: We could give every one of the billions of people in the world their own digital assistants so they can focus less on day-to-day tasks and more on the things that really matter to them.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s AI advancements?


Article courtesy of SocialTimes | RSS Feed

Facebook Messenger and Brands: What’s Going On There?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Facebook just had a billion users in a day, it’s dominating the mobile ad market, and people are spending more time there than ever. In other words, they’re in solid shape.

Still, though they might have hundreds of millions of users, certain Facebook products continue to inspire uncertainty for some, in terms of monetization and how they fit with Facebook’s strategy.

In particular, people like to speculate about Messenger and WhatsApp, with their seven hundred million and nine hundred million users, respectively, about how they are going to make money, what brand presences there will look like, and whether or not Facebook will introduce ads in the apps.

Who knows! Maybe they will.

But the things people at Facebook are saying indicate that they’re thinking about the money question a little differently. The company’s head of ads, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, recently gave an interview that makes the company’s idea of how it will work a little clearer.

A direction for brand presences on the app

It’s not as though the company has been completely mum about what role brands might play on these apps; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about the business use of Messenger during Facebook’s Q2 earnings call.

He discussed customer service as a use case for brands on messenger, saying that “the long-term bet is that by enabling people to have good organic interactions with businesses, that will end up being a massive multiplier on the value of the monetization down the road, when we really work on that, and really focus on that in a bigger way.”

At TechCrunch’s recent Disrupt conference, Bosworth elaborated on how brands might use Messenger to build value, not necessarily via ads.

He pointed out that Facebook is already becoming a major channel for customer service. He said that ”there’s a bunch of marketers saying that Facebook is the number one channel where they’re getting (customer service) requests.”

He also mentioned, impressively, that instances of people messaging brands has doubled year over year. (Also interesting for businesses on Facebook, and probably related, visits to pages have increased 40 percent year over year).

The company has already introduced some tools that allow brands to handle support via Messenger.

If you think about it, customer service makes a lot of sense in the context of a Messenger app. Customer service usually still comes down to a one to one interaction, and customers want to have that interaction where it’s convenient for them. As more and more people spend a greater share of their time on messenger apps, it will make sense for them to approach businesses with their issues here.

But if brands can build better customer experiences in a service context, there’s no reason that couldn’t extend to other interactions, ones which are normally considered outside the scope of customer service. In some cases, as “Boz” pointed out, it already is:

In Spain, instead of calling the restaurant to get a reservation, you Whatsapp the restaurant to get a reservation.

And Messenger payments exist already. It would be technically possible to message a brand to buy a product.

In a lot of ways, things are moving towards messenger apps acting as a portal for your interactions with businesses.

If they’re moving that way slowly in U.S. or European markets, in some Asian countries, they’re pretty much already there. Chat apps like Line or WeChat have not just payments, but also things like taxi services and mini stores. The messenger part, and connecting with your friends through it, is still central, but the apps go further, basically bridging the gap between an app and an OS.

Social meets AI?

“Boz” discussed another Facebook project that could prove relevant in terms of Messenger’s monetization, and its ability to serve as a ‘portal’ for more interactions.

Facebook began testing M to a fair amount of fanfare recently. It was billed as basically a hybrid robot/human concierge service. You can simply message M that you want, say, a dozen roses. There’s a team of trained customer sercice agents at Facebook who are helping M get you the roses, and at the same time, M is learning from them, so that it will be able to get you the roses on its own soon.

At Disrupt, “Boz” strongly implied that companies would be working directly with Facebook to make M more effective at both supporting and selling to their customers.

The idea is that, as he put it, “it would be even more efficient for us as people to be able to have a trusted agent that’s able to work on our behalf to coordinate across businesses.”

Other virtual assistants, particularly Siri, are getting better and better. Now that Siri listening all the time, waiting patiently for you to ask something, things are creeping closer to the future we were promised: The one where you can ask for something out loud, seemingly to no one, and it appears.

Maybe they’re just keeping quiet about it, but there hasn’t been any news about Apple—or, for that matter, Amazon Echo or Microsoft Cortana—working directly with businesses with the aim of enabling Siri to solve your customer support issues.

Facebook, as it’s not an operating system, has a major task ahead of it if it wants to be the go-to for people looking to get something done.

Wired’s Jessi Hempl summarized the challenge very nicely here:

Facebook’s goal is to make Messenger the first stop for mobile discovery. Google has long had search locked up on the desktop: Right now, if I’m looking to treat my summer cold, and I’m in front of my laptop, I begin by googling “cold meds Upper West Side.” On mobile, however, I may pull up any number of apps—Google, Google Maps, Twitter—to find that out, or I may just ask Siri. Facebook starts at a disadvantage on mobile because it doesn’t have its own operating system, and therefore users must download an app, and then open it.

Both the human-AI hybrid format, and the possibility that Facebook appears to be opening M up to some extent, allowing businesses to feed into it to make it more useful, might significantly improve Facebook’s odds of pulling this off.

And for brands, it could prove to be the source of some very valuable customer interactions.

In a customer service context, M, with the input of brands who want to reach their customers through it, could conceivably handle a significant proportion support interactions. Customers could wait passively to have problems solved, and only have to deal with it if that didn’t work. It could have the lower costs of automated support, but it would stand a much better chance of actually working, and wouldn’t require customers to endure the experience of repeating information to a series of robots.

Purchasing could work similarly. If the logistics of texting an order to a brand are daunting unless there’s a human on the other end to understand it, having a way of coordinating though AI stands a chance of improving customer satisfaction and reducing costs.

As “Boz” pointed out, this is all in very early stages. If, however, it were to become viable, it would be extremely valuable for Facebook, and probably for many of the brands on it.

Customer service, particularly via social media, but on other channels too, is a perennial challenge for a lot of brands. And selling, at least on mobile, often leaves a lot to be desired.

Besides being a bit strange at first, as the future can be, an AI assistant with the capability to learn from you and the business you’re interacting with could potentially make these interactions a lot smoother. Whether or not it will happen, and how good it will be, is in Facebook’s hands.

Matthew Klein is a content manager at Facebook Marketing Partner Falcon Social. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Falcon Social enables enterprises to Listen and Engage, Publish and Measure – all from a unified platform.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Article courtesy of SocialTimes | RSS Feed

Giphy Expands Beyond Messenger With Its New GIF-Sharing App

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Facebook Replacing ‘Other’ Folder With Message Requests

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

MessageRequestsTeaserThe infamous “Other” folder for messages on Facebook will soon be extinct, as the social network is rolling out a feature called Message Requests for its Messenger applications.

Vice president of messaging products David Marcus announced in a Facebook post that Message Requests will allow any Facebook user to attempt to communicate with any other Facebook user, regardless of whether they are connected.

Facebook users who receive messages from other users they are not connected with will have the option to accept or ignore those Message Requests.

Marcus wrote:

Forget phone numbers! Today, we’re excited to start rolling out Message Requests for Messenger. We truly want to make Messenger the place where you can find and privately connect with anyone you need to reach, but only be reached by the people you want to communicate with. Now, the only thing you need to talk to virtually anyone in the world is their name. As a result of these changes, we’re removing the “Other folder” that was only accessible from the Web, and are enabling you to accept or ignore new requests without the requestor knowing you’ve read their message.

The rule is pretty simple: If you’re friends on Facebook, if you have each other’s contact info in your phone and have these synced or if you have an existing open thread, the new messages from that sender will be routed to your inbox. Everything else will now be a message request, minus spam attempts that we will continue to ruthlessly combat.

While this may seem like a small change, it’s actually a foundational development. Look for more in the months to come as we continue to improve ways to find the people you want to communicate with. And as always, please let us know how we can make this better for you.

Readers: What are your initial thoughts on Message Requests?


Article courtesy of SocialTimes | RSS Feed

M: Facebook’s ‘MoneyPenny’ Will Be Money for Consumers and Advertisers

Tags: , , , , ,


Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed

PayPal’s Christina Smedley to Lead Communications for Facebook Messenger

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed

November 2015
« Oct