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Facebook Mail - the New InMail?

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Facebook Messages

Back in November of last year, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Messages (their new Email) for Facebook users, which will provide users with an @facebook.com email address, streaming emails, chats and IM’s in to one easy format. Similar to Gmail, conversations will be grouped together, but emails will be sent as easily and informally as Chat messages (hitting ‘enter’ to send).

Facebook started to roll out Messages slowly to a test group of invitation-only Facebookers, (you can request an invitation although you may be waiting a while, as the bouncers to the Facebook club are extremely selective) before a blanket roll-out to all 500 million+ users planned for later this year.

This announcement was met with a certain level of joy and trepidation – consumers are still gagging for their invitation, but organizations who regularly email their customers with HTML-rich emails may face ending up in the “Other” inbox (ie Junkmail). This surely ruffled quite a few feathers in Google and Microsoft as their web-based email platforms are likely to suffer a decline.

Zuckerberg introduced his messaging platform citing his primary motivation behind the product is that teenagers don’t use email, “They use SMS a lot. People want lighter weight things like SMS and IM to message each other.” According to a report released in February by comScore, total web-based email use has plummeted by 59% in 2010 among 12-17 year olds.

Remembering that these teenagers are the candidates and customers of the future and uptake of the @facebook.com email address promises to also penetrate into the adult population, what does this mean for organisations and recruiters?

Well firstly, if you source candidates through intelligent Search Engine hunting and discover the perfect candidate, you can avoid possibly interrupting a candidate at work and source their personal email address rather than their work one. Contacting candidates can now be as private and informal as sending them a (completely free) email via Facebook (so-long expensive LinkedIn InMails?). That candidate, depending on their settings, may receive your message via Facebook or by text message. Their Facebook email address will be their Facebook username (as seen in the web-address bar when you view their profile, example Joan.Soap2) @facebook.com and will essentially “find them” wherever they are when that message is sent.

For organizations who regularly email customers or clients to keep them abreast of what’s happening within the organization, email marketers may have to adapt the entire way that they format their email to allow it to be viewed, as Facebook Messages will be plain text. Oh and there won’t be a subject line anymore either; any message that is sent to a large number of people will be automatically sent to the “Other” folder. Facebook will however provide an opportunity to scrub email lists as customers’ email addresses may become duplicated (ie sent to both their gmail and Facebook email addresses but the Facebook one may be more up to date), or completely remove disinterested and unengaged customers who never open your emails.

Suggestions to cope with these new changes and ensure that your message gets heard by ever-more difficult to reach audiences, are to do the following:

  • Create an @facebook.com list, separate from your general email mailing list. Email these clients in a different mail shot, using a different (plain text) format.
  • Possibly incorporate a command that customers can “move to your inbox”, giving Facebook the all-clear to send any of your future messages to their normal priority inbox.
  • Forget about masses of HTML and other images. Messages should be nearly like tweets: short and snappy. The message will appear in an Instant Message-like format, so you can imagine just how irrelevant and messy your wonderfully artistic and structured mail-shots will appear in the Facebook context. Your text content should be dynamic and attractive, and add a link in each email to bring customers to your website and view your news or offer.

Do you have Facebook Messages yet? Would you use it and why? Let us know in the comments below.

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