Audio Recording: My SIPNOC 2014 Talk - "Is It Time For TLS For SIP?"
Facebook Messenger Launches Group Conference Calls (Audio-only)

Facebook Takes On Snapchat With Launch of "Messenger Codes" To Easily Connect Users

On the eve of Facebook's major "F8 Developer Conference" happening April 12-13, the company has launched a clear attack on Snapchat's "Snapcode" method of connecting users with their new "Messenger Codes". If you go into the newest version of Facebook Messenger on iOS (which is the only platform I have to test right at this moment) and click on the gear icon in the lower right labeled "Settings", you now see a brand new profile screen:

Facebook messenger code settings

There are two things to note here:

  1. The circular shaped code around my profile image; and
  2. The new short URL of which brings me to a web version of Facebook Messenger. (More on that in a different post.)

The circular code clearly reminded me of Snapchat's "Snapcode", where mine is:

Snapcode dyork

And sure enough, when I clicked on the "People" icon at the bottom of the Messenger app, the first option on the top is "Scan Code":

Facebook messenger scan code

Since I had learned about these codes via a tweet from Chris Messina, I pointed my phone at my laptop screen where his Messenger Code was visible:

Fb messenger messina

As I got closer to the code, the Messenger app automagically recognized the code and put me into a message window with Chris:

Fb messenger messina success

I didn't chat with him as I didn't have a reason to do so and I don't recall us actually meeting. But I could ... it was this easy to get connected.

In a similar way to Snapchat, from the "Scan Code" window there is a symbol in the lower left corner that lets you access your phone's photos. So if you receive a Messenger Code via some other method (such as Twitter where people are already posting their codes using the #F8 hashtag) and save that image to your photos, you can access it from the "Scan Code" page and connect with the person.

From that same "Scan Code" page you can also tap "My Code" to see your code. Here's mine:

Fb my code

I can now share that Messenger Code out through the icon in the upper right and get it out into other social services (as I did on Twitter), or via text message, email, DropBox or anything else.

(Amusingly, while I could share the image out to Snapchat, the image is shared as square and since Snapchat uses full vertical images it cropped the image... meaning that the full Messenger Code would not be displayed and presumably would not work.)

So What?

At this point you may be saying "so what?" and wondering what value this really brings.

As I wrote about last year, messaging is all about "the directory dilemma", i.e.

People will only USE a communication application if the people they want to talk to are using the application.

It's all about having the most massive directory of users and growing that directory.

As Snapchat has demonstrated, the use of these "user codes" takes away the friction of figuring out how to connect with someone.

Over the past months a number of people I know have changed their Twitter and Facebook profile images to be their Snapcode. All I need to do, then, is point Snapchat on my phone toward their image and... ta da.. I can send them a connection request. No worry trying to look up their name... or figure out which of the many "Dan Yorks" I am if they are trying to connect to me.

Simple. Easy.

In many ways it's the proprietary version of QR codes... although focused on connecting two users rather than (as is often the case with a QR code) sending you to a web page or other site.

I expect we'll start seeing people change their Twitter profile photos to include their Facebook Messenger Code.

If people do, Facebook can steal the messaging from that rival platform. If you advertise your Messenger Code as the profile on another service, you are effectively saying "I prefer to get Facebook Messenger messages".

Take away the friction of connecting and let users advertise how to connect on your messaging platform.

If I were the organizer of an event, and I wanted to use FB Messenger as my primary messaging app, I could very easily see adding my Messenger Code to the event website, or even to printed flyers that might hang in a local coffee shop, library, gym, school or wherever...

Simple. Easy.

What About Brands? Facebook Pages?

I could see a huge benefit to brands to be able to publish these Messenger Codes, particularly with the expectation of "chat bots" being unveiled at F8 this week.

Again, from Facebook's point of view, this would keep the messaging within Facebook's walled garden, and continue to keep Facebook having the biggest directory of active users.

Tonight I couldn't discover anything similar in the Pages app or any other place. But you would think it would be coming... we'll have to stay tuned to F8 coverage this week to find out more.

What About Messaging Spam?

But if you publish your Messenger Code everywhere, what about spam?

Another good question... and since I published my Messenger Code on Twitter, perhaps I'll find out the answer over the next day or so! :-)

Perhaps Facebook will filter them all into the "Message Requests" that was very hard to find. I don't know! I have to think they will do something to ensure Messenger doesn't descend into the spam pit as email has.

How Else Can Messenger Codes Be Used?

We'll have to see what they tell us at the "F8 Developer Conference" this week... stay tuned!

What do you think about these Messenger Codes? Do you think it will help in connecting you with people? Will your promote your code? Or do you think it is all a waste of time? Let me know in the comments or on social media...