In what could be the first step towards increased connection between its messaging tools, Facebook is reportedly developing a new integrated messaging inbox for businesses, which would enable Page managers to respond to Instagram Direct messages and Facebook Messenger interactions all in one place.
Facebook first rolled out the capacity to manage Messenger, Facebook and Instagram interactions in the Page Manager app back in 2016, with a unified notifications stream across the three apps.
According to Axios, this new functionality will take that a step further:
"The feature will add Instagram Direct messaging to a page owner's messaging inbox within the Facebook Pages Manager app on web and mobile. The tool currently only lets businesses control messages coming from Facebook Messenger."
In the initial iteration (above), Instagram messages were not included, only comments - this new update would merge the messaging functionality of both, streamlining management and enabling improved communication flow.
This comes after The New York Times recently outlined Facebook's broader plan to integrate the messaging functionalities of Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has since noted that they are only in early discussion on this, with such functionality likely not possible till after 2020. The merger of business messaging could be a precursor to this, a first step in moving towards a more integrated messaging layer across all of Facebook's platforms.
How, exactly, this new process would function is not clear at this stage, given its early in development, but it would likely look much like the above, with a unified inbox, and dedicated tabs for each platform individually. And as Instagram becomes a much bigger consideration for social media marketers, the merger could certainly have significant potential - we'll keep you updated on progress as more is revealed by Facebook.