Betting on Connect – 100X the IM engagement and no need to re-spam your friends with more invites

Betting on Connect – 100X the IM engagement and no need to re-spam your friends with more invites

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We continue to believe that one of the best ways to provide our customers with great Microsoft product experiences is to let them connect to the other apps, services, and devices that they love—getting richer, more powerful experiences in both. From bringing Facebook into Messenger to letting you send email to your LinkedIn colleagues from Hotmail to powering the Twitter integration in Windows Phone's People Hub and more, we think it should be easy to use the services you choose. Your services should just work great together, without obstacles pushing you or your friends to "switch" services along the way.

Messenger and Facebook Chat is one of the key places where we're excited to see this come together—users love it, and we're literally seeing 100X the daily, per-user chat engagement from this approach compared to the traditional "federation" model. Messenger has been the world's leading IM service for many years, and about 5 years ago we worked with Yahoo! to start bringing the networks together. But at the time, all of us were frankly still quite worried about the risks of connecting, and so we took what clearly turned out to be the wrong approach for a "social" service like instant messaging, which is inherently about your social graph.

What we did at the time was "federation,” just like a traditional phone network or email service. If I use Messenger and not Yahoo!, and you use Yahoo! but not Messenger, but we want to chat with one another, I can send you an invite to become my "friend" on Messenger, and if you accept it, we're good to go. This does cover some good scenarios, but it's fundamentally broken for the most common case—if I'm a Messenger user and I've spent lots of time building my Messenger friends list, but happen to want to use Yahoo! or any other "app" as my device or client of choice, then I'm either stuck, or I have to re-spam every one of my friends with a new invite to "friend" me on this other service so we can do something we were already doing.

Again, this just isn't what most users need or want for a social app like messaging—I've got my social graphs where I've built them, and I want to just be able to choose the device or app I want to sign into those services and have everything just work. Said another way, I should be able to communicate with the friends I already have on the services I choose, without having to make them buy the same device as me or re-spam my friends with new invites.

By contrast, about a year ago we launched Facebook Chat integration, powered by the simple "connect" model where I connect my Facebook account to Messenger (just once), and the following just happens automatically:

  • All my Facebook friends are "just there"—no need to re-invite anyone.
  • I'm signed into Facebook Chat (just as if I was on Facebook.com) from wherever I use Messenger—whether that’s on a Windows PC, from Hotmail, on a new Windows Phone and more.

Picture of Messenger Facebook Chat on Phone

Chat on Facebook and Hotmail

We've posted before about the ongoing overall growth of Facebook Chat from Messenger—we're now at 5 billion monthly Facebook IMs in 984 million conversations from 12.3 million monthly active users.

Active Users Facebook Chat via Messenger

Monthly IMs Facebook Chat via Messenger

And while we're excited about that continued overall momentum, we also wanted to share how these numbers compare with the "federation" approach that we've previously tried, and that some services are still more focused on today. Even after 5 years of having federation with Yahoo, and even though for most of that time both Yahoo! and Messenger global IM traffic has dwarfed total Facebook Chat traffic, when we look at a typical day like July 31, 2011, here's what we see:

  • Facebook—164 million IMs from 3 million users, or 55 IMs/user. That's 3 million users (of our 35 million users who are actively using Facebook-connected features with us each month) signing into Facebook Chat from Messenger that day, which connects them to their ~130 Facebook friends automatically, and actively having about 10 IM conversations, each of which contains about 5-6 messages.
  • Yahoo!—24 million IMs from 48 million users, or 0.5 IMs/user. That's 48 million users who have invited and added at least one Yahoo! friend to their Messenger friends list, and have signed into Messenger and had a conversation that day. The average number of Yahoo! friends people have added is only 3.2 (not surprising since they have to re-invite them one by one), and the total engagement follows suit.

So in just 1 year of having used the open "connect" approach for IM, we're seeing 100 times the per-user engagement, and nearly 7 times the total traffic from a fraction as many users. And that’s after 5 years of building on the "federation" approach with Yahoo! You might wonder how much of this effect may just be due to the Facebook Chat audience itself being highly engaged. On a monthly basis, the level of engagement with Facebook Chat from Messenger is similar to what we see for active Messenger users in general—so while that’s part of the story, it’s mostly about automatically having all of your friends there, without having to spam them with invites again.

Jeff Kunins, Group Program Manager, Messenger & Connect Platforms

15 Comments
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  • @Jeff: Doesn't Google Chat support XMPP protocoll for clients? If I add Google Chat to my pidgin, I get an experience that is exactly like your connect philosophy: It just pulls down my contacts from Google, so no need to reinvite anyone, and I can chat with them. If Messenger just was able to talk via XMPP to Google, everything would be done. Google ALSO supports a federation system, but it seems everything is there on Google's side to support MS's favorite approach already, and really it is on the MS side to implement this. It looks to me as if Google provides all the necessary API's already so that you could implement an experience that is similiar to what you have with Facebook already.

  • I love this. Keep the good news coming MS.

  • @krish : How do I send PM to you. I do not see any link either on this blog comment or on Conversations link at the top of the Blog.

  • @ Krish Vitaldevara : I have tried using trueswitch and also the specific domain as provided by you, but none is successful. when we go to trueswitch.com, on its homepage YAHOO does not have its name in free partners, may be thats why I am ( and may be also others) not able to transfer from yahoo to hotmail

  • @trulyindian:  have you tried using secure5.trueswitch.com/hotmail

    The switch using that link works for me to switch from Yahoo to Hotmail. I went through the process today and was able to successfully move the messages, contacts and notify friends flow. Let me know how that goes and welcome to Hotmail.

    If you run into any issues please send me a private message and I will work with you on the resolution.

  • I agree with @controlz , each and every point mentioned is very genuine and necessary. Thanks

  • Can anyone help me to migrate from yahoo to hotmail.?? Please.

  • pliyan
    1 Posts

    The most important connector should be the Blackberry Messenger connector as it is still a closed standard. If WL can connect to BBM then the sky is not the limit anymore!!!!!

  • Thanks everyone for the feedback.

    @controlz -- thanks for support, and for the helpful recommendations on FB video calling and offline messaging, we're steadily working to add more great integration features with all of our partners including Facebook.  On notifications, currently you can't switch just Facebook notifications on and off, but you can choose to just get notifications when your "Favorite" contacts sign in/out, whether on Messenger or on Facebook.  Just go to Options->Notifications.    It would be great to know more about what/when you're seeing messages not make it through.

    @davidacoder -- Our approach is absolutely to keep adding additional partners via this "connect" approach which we're seeing work so well.   Google in particular does not support this today -- they only support federation, which per this post we've seen is just not very effective.  

    @Albert - data charges vary by carrier and market and application, so you should speak with your carrier to get the current info for your situation.

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    Yeah, it sounds really nice, as long as you don't realise that WL team forces Opera users to change a browser , if they want to have a full WL experience :-(

  • I want to switch from Yahoo. How to do that?? Don't tell about www.trueswitch.com. It does not work. Yahoo has stopped supporting it. What should I do?? I have searched through web for a possible but nothing is workable. Please provide some solution , the Hotmail team.

  • Albert
    94 Posts

    I never bothered with Facebook Chat (because of how buggy it once was in IE), but ever since I was able to "connect" on Messenger, it's finally been a pleasure to be able to chat with all of my friends who don't have Messenger but happen to always be on Facebook. In that sense, I have been a fan of this feature from the start, so thanks for the continued passion in this =)

    Just a question though, on Windows Phone, when we IM with either Messenger or Facebook friends from within the Messaging app on Mango, will it be a data plan-billed IM or a text messaging-billed IM? In other words, will we see our limited data plans take a small beating from this built-in IM functionality, or have you guys worked out the usual IM mobile app process where IMs don't count against data consumption because they are part of the text messaging plan?

  • vieya
    44 Posts

    Please fix windows live movie maker and give us something like garangeband for windows.

  • I agree that you found the ideal approach here. The next step is to expand our options, and that in particular means adding support for Google Chat (or whatever it is called right now) in the same way that you have support for Facebook right now. Or even better: Just allow me to add any service directly that supports the xmpp protocoll. As a consumer I don't have ANY benefit of this apparent MS corporate policy that you don't integrate with the Google stuff. Embrace your competitor, wasn't that the slogan once at MS?

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    Facebook chat in Messenger is very good, but I'd like a few things to change:

    1) Sometimes, messages sent from my friends on Facebook don't get through to Messenger.

    2) In Messenger, I get a notification every time one of my many friends of Facebook signs in. I want alerts when people sign into Messenger, but not Facebook. There should be an option for that in, well, options.

    3) Facebook video calling should really be supported in Messenger.

    And finally (perhaps the biggest point):

    4) We should be able to send Facebook Messages from the chat window is Messenger. We can in Facebook, but when a friend goes offline in Messenger we have to go to Facebook.com to send a message.

    Overall, Facebook chat in Messenger is very, very good. Thanks for making Messenger the best IM service!