Facebook begins unifying messaging services for businesses

At its Communities Summit, Facebook also announced it's launching a pilot program that lets groups and brands collaborate.

Facebook on Thursday announced that businesses and organizations using Facebook Pages will be able to respond to Instagram Direct Messages from their Facebook Page inbox. The move is part of Facebook's larger push to unify the messaging services across its multiple platforms.

Facebook announced the simplified messaging experience on Thursday at the Communities Summit it's holding at its Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters. In addition to inviting community group leaders to the summit, Facebook for the first time this year also invited leaders of local business and nonprofit groups.

The social networking giant also announced it's launching a pilot program that lets groups and brands collaborate. It's expanding subscription groups to more partners, enabling groups to earn money and deepen engagement with users.

During Facebook's Q4 earnings conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that unifying Facebook's messaging services is a "long-term project" that will continue through 2020 and beyond. There are "a number of cases that we see where people tell us that they want to be able to message across the different services," he said.

For example, Zuckerberg elaborated, Facebook is building up Marketplace -- the peer-to-peer selling feature on Facebook -- in various countries around the globe. Yet in many of those countries, the primary messaging app is WhatsApp -- another Facebook-owned property.

"We need to make it so that people can communicate across the different networks and graphs that they have or be able to do that integration better in order to facilitate more transactions and connections there," Zuckerberg said. 

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