YouGov CEO, Stephan Shakespeare, considers the reaction to Facebook's instant messaging developments
In a recent interview, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg revealed that a major plank of the company’s growth strategy is to diversify its offering into many smartphone apps.
The aim is to create different programmes to serve users’ needs, rather than trying to make the main Facebook platform all things to all people.
Users were given a taste of this approach on 9 April, when the company informed them that the instant messaging function would be removed from the main Facebook app and replaced with a shiny new one to be used exclusively for instant messaging.
According to a new YouGov poll of UK Facebook users, six in ten are aware of the new Messenger app, but only 42 per cent of those aware say they have downloaded it so far. Of those who have, just over half agree that it’s a faster way of keeping in contact with friends and family, and 50 per cent also say they respond to Facebook messages faster using the new app. A third also report using text messages less now that they have Messenger.
When we asked about the various features included in the app, the ability to make free phone calls over wifi was the most popular, but only 27 per cent are aware that it can do this. Among those who haven’t downloaded the new app, the ability to make free calls is the most appealing feature.
However, a majority of users still say they prefer to have one app that does everything, and 45 per cent said they get annoyed when they log in to Facebook to find things have changed.
While the initial reaction to Facebook Messenger is mixed, we know users often react negatively at first but warm up later. This looks like a good first response, justifying the risks that Facebook is taking to keep their offer leading-edge.