As a business owner, you have quite a few tools at your disposal for both getting the word out about your products or services and connecting with your customers. However, one that you might not have given much thought to is Facebook Messenger. What started out as a text-chat tool tied tightly to Facebook itself has evolved into a standalone platform in its own right. So how do you use Facebook messenger for business? Let’s explore.

You might not think that Facebook Messenger would be a good channel for your business, but did you know that businesses and consumers exchange more than 2 billion messages on the platform each month?

With that much volume, Facebook Messenger for business makes a lot of sense for most businesses. Over the course of this post, we’ll discuss more reasons why you should emphasize Facebook Messenger and offer tips to help you be successful with Facebook Messenger.

Why Bother with Facebook Messenger?

As mentioned, you have plenty of tools at your disposal, including Facebook and your Facebook page itself. Why add yet one more to the mix? For starters, there are over 1 billion active users on Facebook Messenger every month, and that number keeps growing. Second, Nielsen shows 53% of consumers prefer to shop with a brand they can message directly, and messaging is the second most preferred consumer to business communication channel. In other words, your customers want to talk to you on Facebook Messenger.

How to Use Facebook Messenger for Business

If you’re ready to get started with Facebook Messenger for business, it’s pretty simple (here’s the Facebook link). You’ll need to make sure you have a Facebook business page first. Next, you’ll need to create a username that will work for both your business page and in Messenger. You may already have one set, but if you don’t, it’s simple. Go to Create Page @username, then enter the name you want, and click on create.

Next, you need to turn messaging on for your page. This is off by default. Go to your business page, and click on settings general messages edit. Click the box where it says “allow people to contact my page privately by showing the message button”. Make sure to save your changes.

If you want, you can also set up instant replies now, too. You might choose to use these to tell your customers that it will be certain amount of time before they receive a live reply, or to tell them to contact your business in another way. Again, this setting is found through your business page. Click on settings messaging response assistant Yes (under sent instant replies) change. You can now enter the message you want displayed. Again, make sure to save your changes.

Once you’ve got everything set up, that’s really all you need. Your customers will begin sending messages to your business. However, there are a few things to consider here. One of those is your response time. You want the shortest response time possible – Facebook displays a “usually replies in X” on your page where X is the average response time for your business. A shorter time encourages more interaction.

To ensure a shorter response time, you need to reply to at least 90 percent of the messages you receive, and you need to do so within 15 minutes of the message being received. Of course, that presents some problems. What about messages received outside business hours? You can set your Facebook Messenger status to “away” if you’re not actively able to respond, and that will ensure that your response time is calculated not from the time the message is received, but from the time you change your status back to “available”.

There are other considerations to make here, as well. For instance, you can use Facebook Messenger codes that work like Snapchat codes. You can also use your Facebook Messenger link on your website or on other social networks to jumpstart conversations. Finally, you can use Facebook Messenger for your business to respond privately to public messages, including negative reviews. You can even provide customer service right through the app.

In the end, Facebook Messenger for business is a powerful tool that delivers unique benefits to businesses large and small. Mastering it will take a little time, but the learning curve is not that steep.