It wasn’t that long ago that Facebook started transforming from a friends-only, just-for-fun platform into one of the world’s best marketing tools for businesses of all shapes and sizes.The businesses that caught on to Facebook’s business potential early were able to connect more personally, serve their customers more completely, and grow much faster as all their customers were there, but none of their competition was.Well, the same thing that happened with Facebook years ago is happening right now on Facebook Messenger.You’ve got a powerful platform (Messenger), with a huge existing user-base, that’s recently opened to businesses, and equipped with huge marketing potential. So if you’re a business owner, you may want to consider Facebook Messenger as more than just another text messaging app.Here’s Why:1. Messenger is a Powerful, Fast-Growing PlatformFacebook Messenger is Facebook’s version of the text message. Facebook users can text, send images, call and even video chat with each other through the app – all for free.Messenger is growing fast, even becoming a “primary communications channel” for some people.Facebook Messenger has grown from 200 Million in April 2014 to over 1.2 Billion in April 2017.This quick uptake saw phone and text message providers start losing business back in 2015. As you can see, the platform has only become more important since then.2. Messenger was Recently Opened to BusinessesIn late 2015, Facebook opened Messenger up to businesses. Business pages can message personal users, and users can message Businesses. While this development isn’t breaking news, businesses have only just started to use Messenger.Messenger’s popularity makes it a good place to connect with prospects, nurture leads, and talk to customers. And the fact that it’s still new to the business world means the opportunities here are large and in many ways untapped.3. Messenger Provides a Direct Line Between You and Your CustomerBecause it works just like texting, using Messenger feels like chatting with a friend.One of the hardest things about drawing in a new customer is getting to that stage – where you’re just having a friendly chat.When people are shopping around online, they’re notoriously hard to pin down. Attention spans are short. Flashing advertisements are everywhere. And it’s very difficult to A) stand out and B) send the message that you are genuine, you care, and you are a real person who can solve the problem this internet browser is having.Messenger has created a shortcut to the customer. It has created a shortcut to the place where you can talk openly to your customer, answer their questions, and show them why they should choose you over the competition.At this point you might be saying:“Do people really want to use Messenger for business?”Statistics actually say they do.Two Billion messages are sent between people and businesses each month.56% of people would rather message than call customer service.53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.And it looks like people pay a lot of attention to this type of personal message:The open rate for Messenger is sky high, especially when compared to email.4. And it’s not Just for TextingIn addition to text messages, you can send images, website links, phone numbers and videos.For businesses, this means it’s easy to turn a Facebook message into a phone call or online booking.Send your number, and your customer can click the number to call you.Send a link to your contact us page, and your customer can head straight to it – and ask you questions while they’re filling out the form.There’s a lot you can do with this sort of flexible messaging. Tricky customer service question? Send a how-to video or just call them up. Wondering why a customer chose you (or didn’t)? Follow them up with a quick + friendly question in Messenger. The options are many, and Facebook is still developing more.5. Facebook is Grooming Messenger to be a Powerful Business ToolFacebook is a marketing powerhouse: a huge audience, detailed customer information, and the ability to tell your story and sell with rich media. Messenger utilises all of this – in a new, more personal way.There are lots of tools to leverage, here are just a few we’ve found really helpful:Start conversations with your ideal customers.A business can run Facebook ads that, when clicked, open a conversation in Facebook Messenger. Through Facebook targeting, you can choose to show this ad only to people you know will want to talk to you.Here’s what a Messenger Ad looks like:If you think this might work for your business, talk to us.Automate parts of your customer service. A business can now automate a welcome message, and a series of responses to customers. Building automated responses is called creating a Facebook Messenger Bot.Having a few responses handy can be a good time-saver for business owners who can’t check their messages very often. It also improves customer service, giving instant answers to frequently-asked questions.The business applications for Facebook Messenger are exciting… connect personally to customers, answer questions, nurture leads, and even automate booking and sales.Don’t Leave Your Customers HangingFacebook Messenger is a great line of communication, but it can be a double-edged blade. Any businesses with a Facebook page now must pay attention to its Messenger Inbox. Customer questions, complaints, reviews and (importantly) leads are coming through Facebook messenger.You wouldn’t leave a customer in your waiting room, would you? You can’t leave them in your digital waiting room either.As digital marketing advances it also becomes more personal. Online customers need more of our time and attention.So, whether or not you use Facebook Messenger, it’s critical to pay attention to your inbox. And if you are a business that does well when you connect directly to your customers, Messenger could be the fastest way for you to grow.