If you have worked with me on any sort of project, you'll know that I like to bounce out of the email medium pretty quickly. Emails are fine for a single question and response types of exchanges. Maybe you even go back and forth in emails a couple times and email still is ok. But beyond that, emails get messy for longer conversations.
First of all, I hate tripping over all the email signatures, their signature and then your signature, repeatedly, as you trace back down through the conversation. It's like driving down a perfectly good road that has been ruined by a series of speed bumps that is just one huge jarring experience.
Additionally, back and forth email conversations are in reverse order as you try and play them back to the start. Moreover, each reply includes the original text duplicated, so you have to skip over that dual text as you scroll down and down and down.
You often find yourself typing in a different color so your newest thoughts stand out over the older thoughts.
Does any of this sound familiar? I find all of this terribly inefficient and cumbersome.
Messaging apps (aka Chat apps) therefore are much more conductive to conversations. There's a back and forth exchange in chronological order (can you imagine that? how novel!)
Messaging apps enable conversations in real time. When you see a note "so-and-so is typing" then you realize the next message is coming soon. In this "instant messaging" mode, you go back and forth sharing ideas in quick succession. The conversations are oftentimes asynchronous. What I mean is, that you share a thought but you realize it may be a few hours before you get a response. But that's okay too. You'll see the little 'message read' indicator has not appeared yet so you know they haven't seen it. Or even if they have seen it, they are quite likely busy on something else and you just have to wait a bit. Some people are a little more patient than others for waiting. Just because they saw it instantly doesn't mean they have time to reply instantly. Not being impatient for the instant reply is the desired etiquette here.
One of the other key components that makes any particular messaging platform successful is being able to pick up the conversation both on your computer and on your mobile device. I can type far more rapidly and accurately on a computer keyboard, so I'm always happier to be able to do that in messaging apps. In contrast SMS messages are much more oriented around typing on your phone! (note, there are exceptions like having iMessage on your Mac or the Microsoft Phone Link app to get your android phone paired to your Windows PC. If either of those cases are true, you can send messages into the SMS world via your computer keyboard)
Recently, I did an informal poll to see what messaging platform people liked when they moved out of email mode. I also wanted people to share what they use when they move beyond the SMS/iMessage style communicating. (because of the important consideration of being able to message also beyond just on a mobile device).
The top result of that poll indicated that quite a few utilize Facebook Messenger.
I also use Facebook messenger often. It meets that criteria for me of being able to switch between mobile app and desktop. The other thing that makes this successful is that most people are already in Facebook so there is nothing more to sign up for or install. That is a slight barrier for some for otherwise better messaging apps (i.e. requiring that the people you want to talk to need to sign up for and/or install something new)
Notice the snapshot below. This is probably the way most people do Facebook messages and I rather detest this communication interface. Notice how small and cramped the messaging area is!
However, the good news is, you don't have to stay in this cramped interface. The trick is knowing how to break out of it and once you do, it changes the whole perspective! Notice how this looks below:
In this "messenger view," the conversation area gets a nice expansive area in the middle of the window. You can switch conversations to different persons (or groups) in the left side pane. On the right side pane, you can opt to view all the media/image files that have been shared back and forth with a person. This is helpful in reviewing an image you wanted to see again.
So how do we get to the "messenger view" shown above? There are a couple of ways you can do this. One way, is while you are in the regular Facebook news feed, notice the messenger button at the top right of the window. When you click that button, a secondary button appears below, "see all in messenger." This is one way to get to the expanded conversation view. The second way to get there is my favorite way to do it, just open a new browser tab and go to messenger.com. How simple is that?
If you find yourself utilizing Facebook Messenger for conversations, the next thing on your checklist should be to get the app for your mobile phone. This is important so that you can get notifications of new messages and you can choose to reply to them at that moment, or just be aware that there is a new message waiting and you can reply to it when you have more time. If you aren't aware of a new message and you don't go to your Facebook feed very often, this will be a deterrent to others wanting to use messenger to communicate with you.
Finally, we might rightly bring up the privacy issue. We can question whether or not we should let Facebook be privvy to what we are saying to others. To that, I reason the following way. How much do I pay for Facebook? oh right, $0 per month. Does that mean that these companies are providing a free service? Not at all! They benefit financially primarily by serving ads to us. Not only ads, but targeted ads. That means that advertisers have the ability to choose an audience that is more likely to buy their product or service. How can they provide targeted ads? We give them permission to see what we like in our newsfeed and they see what we talk about in our conversations and can use those interests to target ads that match our tastes and interests.
Quick example: We just adopted another cat (his name is Seamus 😺). I've noticed recently that many of the ads shown to me have migrated to include pet supplies. I'm ok with that! In fact I found the most amazing litter box that I may have never discovered otherwise. Now, to me, that's better than showing me ads for instance for a new car (which I am not in the market for right now). I'm ok with targeted ads. I'm not ok with paying Facebook $9.99 a month to get rid of ads. So seeing ads is a fair price in my mind. That is the cost.
Anyway, that's how I reason. Your opinions may vary but maybe that adds a little perspective to the topic.
So Facebook messenger then... A good place to have conversations? I think so. There are other apps and services that also I recommend for having conversations. But that's for another day! Meanwhile, I hope you learned something new today about Facebook Messenger.