Twenty-five years ago, the first text message was sent by a British engineer named Neil Papworth. It was a simple, two-word text. Since that day in December of 1992, texting has evolved significantly and transformed the way we connect – blossoming into a medium that is highly visual, social and integral to the way we relate to one another. Text messaging today is so much more than, well, text, with people enhancing the way they communicate with emojis (over 500 billion in 2017!), GIFs and augmented reality, and more recently, welcoming some virtual help into their conversations.
In April of 2017, we introduced M suggestions to enrich the way we communicate and get things done. Powered by artificial intelligence, M is your helpful assistant in Messenger, offering suggestions by popping into an open conversation to suggest relevant content and capabilities. From sending or requesting money, to wishing your friend a happy birthday, to sharing stickers (the most popular suggestion of 2017!), M was designed to push the evolution of messaging even further and bring people together in more meaningful and functional ways. We’ve gone from zero to over 100 million people interacting with M in November across ten countries and in four languages, and we can’t wait to see how M will continue to help shape the way people connect with each other in 2018 and beyond.
There’s no question that the way we message has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, but who we message has expanded as well, going beyond our friends and family to encompass the brands and businesses we love. And in turn, businesses of all sizes have embraced messaging, turning to Messenger to personalize their relationships with their customers, elevate their brand image, and make life easier for the people that wanted to interact and do business with them.
Businesses of all kinds used Messenger in 2017 to connect with their customers, with over 2 billion messages sent between businesses and people each month, and over 200,000 bots on the Messenger platform. The top industries using Messenger to connect with people in 2017 were Professional Services, Retail, Local Entertainment, Public Good, and Media, with brands and organizations like Progressive, Saks, Kiehls, Fandango, Alcoholics Anonymous, Rethink Breast Cancer and even celebrities like Katy Perry all launching Messenger experiences in 2017. People across the globe use Messenger to connect with businesses. The top five countries where people messaged businesses the most in 2017 were the United States, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam.
To help further connect people with the businesses they love, this year we launched the Discover tab, a section in Messenger that makes it easy and simple for people to find and browse businesses Pages and bots. Since announcing Discover in April we have launched in 24 countries including the United States, France, Australia, Brazil and India. Businesses also began building Chat Extensions this year, a new way for multiple people to chat with the same business at the same time. Over the past eight months brands like Apple Music, the Food Network, Fandango and Pinterest have all built Chat Extensions, enabling people to share music, recipes, movie times, decorating tips and more – all within their Messenger conversations. And just last month we released Customer Chat plugin – now in open beta – which enables businesses to connect with their customers on their website and in Messenger, creating one seamless conversation across platforms. Major brands already using Customer Chat include AirFrance, KLM and Volaris.
It’s been an incredible year for the evolution of messaging and the impact it has had on bringing people together in new and innovative ways. At Messenger, we’re honored to have been a part of that growth and evolution. Most of all, we’re thankful to the countless people and businesses that turned to Messenger in 2017 to help make their lives a little easier, get things done, and forge meaningful connections. We can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring.