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Facebook becomes latest social media site wanting to be a marketplace

By Paul Skeldon May 4, 2018 - 6:25 am

Facebook joins Instagram and Pinterest in pushing social media sites as marketplaces with a revamp of its Messenger platform to make it more effective as a channel between merchants and consumers.

The social media giant – still reeling from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal – announced at its developer conference this week that it will be adding Augmented Reality tools and English-Spanish-English live translation to its highly successful Messenger app.

Facebook has been trialling the AR tools with ASUS, Kia, Nike, and Sephora in the US, allowing retailers to show and demo their products in Messenger with full AR, letting customers see and almost feel the goods before they buy them through stores on the Facebook site.

The move is designed to allow retailers and merchants to leverage Facebook’s power to connect with consumers and markets a shift away from looking to advertising as the social site’s main revenue stream and looks to see it tap into the burgeoning marketplace world.

“With this launch, businesses large and small can leverage the Camera Effects Platform to easily integrate AR into their Messenger experience, bringing the virtual and physical worlds one step closer together. So, when a person interacts with your business in Messenger, you can prompt them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with filters and AR effects that are specific to your brand. From there, people can share the image or video to their story or in a group or one-to conversation or they can simply save it to their camera roll.”
– David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products at Facebook

The company is also adding live translation – for now between English and Spanish, but more languages are set to follow rapidly – as it plugs its M translation bot into messenger, again aiding sellers with interaction with customers in a drive to make the social media site an easy place to buy from.

“Now when people connected through Marketplace receive a message in a language that is different from their default language in Messenger, M [Facebook’s translation bot] will ask them if they want to translate the message. This will help drive commerce between buyers and sellers despite language barriers. At launch, translations from English to Spanish (and vice-versa) will be available in Marketplace conversations taking place in the US.”
– David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products at Facebook

Facebook’s plans chime with those of Instagram, Pinterest and Google – not to mention potentially Sainsbury’s and Asda’s – in looking to tap into the lucrative marketplace space. With marketplaces getting around 40% of ecommerce sales, it is the place to be and each of these new entrants is seeking to leverage a particular strength that it feels it has that the big fish, Amazon, doesn’t.

In the case of Facebook, it is the 1.3 billion people who use Messenger every month, exchanging 8 billion messages between people and businesses. Instagram is seeking to leverage its fast-growing user base of image based UGC, Pinterest its exclusive ‘quality’ feel, Google all its search results that usually head to Amazon and, should it go through, the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger could leverage the pairs vast store footprint and existing ecommerce clout.

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