Remember those old AOL chat rooms? If you’ve missed them, Facebook has good news for you: They might be coming back, as Tech Crunch mentions here. Although Facebook’s Host Chat is not available to all users yet, we have word that it is in the works.
Right now, Facebook is testing the new feature. If its test users like it, we in the local social media marketing industry could see Host Chat very soon. People who are scrolling through their news feeds will be able to join a chat without an invitation, so the each chat room could potentially become large in just a few minutes.
What Host Chat Means for Businesses
Facebook’s chat rooms are likely to keep people on the site longer, which will benefit businesses who are active on Facebook. Even though they might be engaged in a conversation with their friends, they might browse Facebook while they’re chatting.
The chat rooms will compete with Google Hangouts and Apple’s iMessages for your customers’ time and attention. If Google Hangouts is part of your local internet marketing strategy, for instance, some of your audience might switch to Facebook chat rooms.
More Access to Your Customers’ Key Influencers
Host Chat could provide advertisers with a wealth of information. Many Facebook users have hundreds, and some even have thousands, of “friends.” However, most of these “friends” are merely acquaintances, and few of them are likely to influence a person’s purchasing decision. The Host Chat could help Facebook identify which “friends” are closest to you.
Research has shown that people are more likely to listen what their friends think than what marketers tell them through advertising. Tapping into information about who people’s closest friends are will help businesses to connect with a wider audience. However, it is unknown what type of information will be made available to marketers after Host Chat is officially launched.
Engage Your Followers in Conversation
Depending on the nature of your business, it might be wise to use the chat rooms to interact with groups of your customers. This can be helpful if your company is launching a new product, for example. If your customers need help, they can seek guidance through the chat room. However, someone from your company will likely have to monitor the chat room closely for anyone who shares inappropriate content.
How Will It Work?
If Host Chat is rolled out, signing in to a chat will be simple. There will likely be a button near the status update bar on everyone’s news feed, but as the feature is still in the testing phase, that may change.