• Messaging your clients where it's convenient for them instead of for you carries a serious "wow" factor.

If you haven’t noticed lately, your Facebook feed now has more humans in it than articles or videos.

This is probably good news for those who use the social media platform to cultivate real, meaningful relationships.

Companies can do that, too — even on Facebook. I bought a pair of shoes online last month, and a Facebook bot still has me thinking about that particular transaction.

Weaving Facebook into a transaction

The social media platform is how I found the shoes in the first place. A couple of women in my network “like” this company, and I saw a sponsored post in my news feed.

One thing led to another, and suddenly I was the proud owner of two new pairs of kicks.

What happened afterward kind of blew my mind, even though it might not sound that amazing: I immediately got a Facebook message from a bot.

“Hi there, thanks for shopping with us! We’re using Messenger as a better way to support and reach our customers. Please send us any questions and we’ll be happy to help. In the meantime, we’ll send you shipping updates as soon as they’re available.”

The bot also sent over a summary of my order that included the shoe styles and size, the credit card I used to pay, my total amount paid and my shipping details.

Just shy of three hours later, I got another Facebook message that my shoes had shipped.

The next morning, the bot pinged me again with the delivery estimate. And two days later, when the shoes were delivered, I got another message informing me so.

What’s the big deal?

Why do I think this is so cool? Order, shipping and delivery notifications are practically as old as email.

Sure, email alerts are old hat — Amazon’s been telling consumers what’s happening with their order via email for years, long enough that it’s well past novel.

Here’s why I’m impressed: Because this company found me where I am and delivered alerts to me there.

If your email inbox looks anything like mine, it resembles a war zone on most days. I try to stay on top of my work email … but my personal inbox is an absolute disaster. (As of this writing, I’m 41 messages shy of 20,000 “unimportant” and unopened messages. I wish I were exaggerating.)

A screenshot of an overfull inbox with almost 20,000 messages.

Evidence: My inbox is a black hole.

So when Amazon emails me about whatever I just ordered, it gets lost quickly. I always end up searching for the tracking codes I need because they’re buried.

Lots of people and entities have my email address, and I’m (obviously) on way more mailing lists than I should be. It’s like a constant buzzing noise in the background, where no one sound is discernible because there are too many individual voices for one to ever stand out.

It never occurred to me that a vendor could communicate with me through Facebook, and that I would want one to, but it seems so obvious in hindsight:

  • I’m always on Facebook — for work, really! (Excuses aside, here are the facts: I spend the majority of my day in front of my computer, and I have a Facebook tab open when I’m on my computer.)
  • When I’m not at work, there’s my phone, which still has push notifications enabled for Facebook messaging. (I removed those a long time ago from my personal email; it was way too much.)
  • In terms of what can be included in the message, Facebook works just as well as email — if not better. Of course the interface is smaller, but is that really a bad thing? I don’t need to know most of the information contained in a typical “your order has been shipped!” email alert. There are a few very specific pieces of information I’m seeking, and the rest is extraneous, so why not send me exactly what I want to know and nothing more?

There are a handful of platforms and sites where I spend the majority of my day, and typically, email takes a backseat to Slack, Trello, WordPress — Facebook.

They can’t reach me on Slack (yet), but I’ll see a message sooner on Facebook, almost guaranteed. It’s coming to me where I already am (the world’s biggest social media platform) instead of making me travel somewhere I don’t usually go (my email inbox).

What’s the real estate application?

The biggest and most obvious to me: MLS alerts for new homes on market, price reductions and so on for homebuyers. I think buyers especially in hotter markets would appreciate this immensely. (I have no idea what would be involved from a technical standpoint — it might be completely impossible — but it’d be pretty cool, no?)

I’m sure there are more, and buying my shoes made me wonder how many real estate agents are offering new leads the opportunity to communicate with them via platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or whatever their messaging app of choice might be. (There might even be a client or two who prefers Snapchat.)

If you are, who’s taking you up on it? Anyone?

Email Amber Taufen

Like me on Facebook! | Follow me on Twitter!

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