Hints and tips for Facebook Messenger

Messenger has changed drastically since it was first launched and there are lots of things you can do with it now, that you couldn’t at the start. For example, did you know that, although Facebook messenger is attached to Facebook, you don’t actually have to have a Facebook account to download and use it?

I’ve been looking at the different ways we can use messenger for our small businesses. Although I knew about most of the features, there are some that are new to me! Here are a few hints and tips…

Stay under the radar whilst working

Facebook must be one of the most common distractions to your daily work routine, especially if you work from home. But did you know that you don’t need to have Facebook open to access your messages via messenger?

Go to the website, messenger.com, sign in and there you have it! A phone-like messenger without the distractions of Facebook posts!

Reminders

If you tap the four dots next to the typing field when you’re in a conversation, and then tap ‘reminders,’ you can schedule a time, activity, and location…and send a reminder to anyone you want to include.

Share your location

You can share where you are – your location – in a conversation. Whilst in a conversation, tap the four dots, then tap ‘location’ and hit ‘share live location.’ This is great if you’re meeting the person you’re talking to, and they don’t know the part of town you’re in.

You will need to let messenger have constant access to your location to do this, but you can switch it off at a later stage.

Mute notifications

You can also mute notifications. So, if you’re part of a group chat and the constant ‘pinging’ of new messages gets too much for you, but you don’t want to leave the group entirely, you can just mute the group for certain periods of time…or indefinitely if it is really getting to you!

From your main chat screen, swipe left on the thread and tap the ‘bell’ icon. From here, you can mute notifications for set periods, such as 15 minutes, an hour, 24 hours or indefinitely.

Mark as unread

If you are the kind of person that can easily forget to reply to messages after you’ve read them, then the ‘mark as unread’ feature is just the thing.

Swipe from the right on a message and tap the three little lines, then tap the ‘mark as unread’ option. The thread will then show in bold, just like new messages that you haven’t yet read! It will also show a little blue blob as a reminder!

Leave a group

This is a good one – we all get copied into group messages by friends or family, which might be as simple as an invitation to a party. Then you have to suffer your phone ‘pinging’ for days, if not weeks afterwards, with various people having conversations about it.

Once you’ve replied to the message and finished with it, you can leave the group. Simply tap on the group name at the top of the conversation, scroll to the bottom and select ‘leave group.’ The group will be notified that you’ve left, but you can always put a message before you leave to say that you are going to!

Delete old threads

You can delete old conversations once you’ve finished with them, if you like things kept nice and tidy. Just swipe to the left on the message you want to delete and tap the ‘trash’ icon. All done!

Reply to a particular message in group chat

This is one that is really useful. I belong to several group chats for business and often someone posts a message and, by the time I’ve thought of an answer and go to reply, there’s a whole list of other people chatting and very often they’ve gone right off the original message.

If you use the ‘quote and reply’ function, this solves the problem. Simply press and hold the relevant message you want to reply to, then tap the little arrow to reply. The quoted message will then appear above your own reply, making it absolutely clear who and what you’re talking about!

Unsend a message

It can happen that you send a message to the wrong person. But, if you know what to do and act quickly, you can rectify the error before it’s seen. Press and hold the mistaken message, and so long as it was sent less than 10 minutes ago, you will be able to remove it. Trash it for everyone, click confirm and it will be gone. There will be a message to say ‘you removed a message’ but your recipient won’t be able to see what it was. BUT it must be done within 10 minutes, or you can’t change it.

Chat to other businesses

Messenger is great to message any business that has a Facebook presence. You don’t have to pick up the phone to make a hairdressing appointment and risk getting into long conversations. Simply search for the person or business you want and send a message.

You’ll be able to see when they’ve seen it and see when they reply. This saves so much time…and you don’t have to speak to anyone!

Find filtered messages

Messenger has a filter, so if a message comes in that isn’t from one of your contacts, or if a message looks a bit dodgy to Facebook, the messages get filtered into an ‘other’ inbox. This used to be really irritating as it was difficult to find, but now it’s much easier.

Hit the ‘people’ tab at the bottom of the messenger app, and tap on the ‘requests’ icon, which is a speech bubble with three dots in the top right corner. This will show messages you’ve received from random people – for me, usually men in the military, or someone trying to get me to sign up to a dating app (!) But, it does also sometimes put people who are legitimately trying to contact you into that box too, so it’s worth checking.

Pick a colour

This is one I didn’t know about! You have the option to pick a different colour for every conversation you have. Hit the conversation name to go into settings, then tap ‘colour.’ You’ll be able to pick from a range of colours for your chat, which will be seen by both you and whoever you are messaging.

Emoji branding

As well as picking colours, you can also assign an emoji to your chat too. This will change the default ‘thumbs-up’ like button to the emoji you’ve picked.

Sync contacts

If you want to manage your communications efficiently and have all your acquaintances in messenger, you can turn on ‘sync contacts.’ This is a way to find people who aren’t on Facebook, or who aren’t your friend, but use messenger with their phone number.

Hit the icon with your profile picture, then tap ‘people.’ Go to ‘upload contacts’ and click it ‘on.’ Messenger will then continuously scan your contacts list for new numbers and people to message.

Edit photos

Another one I didn’t know I could do in messenger! Yes, you can edit photos…just open an image that has been sent to you in a chat. Hit the pencil icon – then you can type word overlays, add emojis – have a look and give it a go.

Dark mode

This is really handy and protects your eyes. It reduces the glare from your screen when you’re typing in a low light. The settings change the background from bright colours to black and grey, whilst the pictures, messages and any buttons are still in full colour.

How do you do it? Tap your profile pic in the top left corner and access the settings menu. Then toggle the Dark Mode slider. Simple!

Messenger stickers

You can add stickers to your text – I love this and use it a lot. There are loads to choose from and you can download many different types of stickers and graphics. Just click on the smiley icon next to the text box and, under the stickers tab, hit the plus button at the bottom. Then you can choose which stickers you want to download and use.

Polls

You can create a poll in a chat, giving people multiple choice answers to your question. This is quite a new addition, so another one I hadn’t come across before! Just click on the dots symbol and select ‘polls.’ Then you can create your poll and create custom options.

Encrypt chat

It is possible to encrypt a chat. It’s not an automatic option because it disables some of the other chat options.

To encrypt a chat, tap the name of your chat partner at the top of the screen and scroll down to ‘secret conversation.’ Tap ‘ok’ and your conversation will become encrypted from start to finish. You can also set a time limit so that those encrypted messages disappear after a certain amount of time.

Make calls via Wi-Fi

This is the one I use the most. Messenger has a built-in video and voice calling ability. So long as you are connected to Wi-Fi, you get free messenger-to-messenger calls. It also doesn’t matter if one of you uses IOS and the other uses Android. This has been a godsend for me during lockdown to stay connected with my family…and all free of charge.

Voice note

Not everyone likes to talk directly to their contacts, so there is also voice note. This means that you can leave a short voice message instead. It limits you to 1 minute, but you can send as many as you like! Tap on the plus symbol, select ‘voice,’ and hit the red ‘record’ button. Then record your message and send

Messenger has games!

When you do fancy a break, you can access games from messenger. If you’re chatting to someone and both want a little bit of light relief, just hit the plus symbol in the bottom left when you’re in a conversation and tap the ‘games’ icon. There are loads of them…from Snake to PAC-MAN to Tomb Runner…and all without having to leave the app. You can also get involved with group chats too and you can have a competition!

I really hope that you have found this useful and learned something new – I know I did when doing my research! Happy messaging!

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