Presence Information Boosts Engagement (if Done Right)

Do you remember when AOL Instant Messenger took the world by storm? It’s hard to believe that the chat app that popularized desktop instant messaging is over 20 years old now.

You might not use AIM anymore, but take a look at your modern messaging apps. You’ll notice that many of today’s standard features are holdovers from the original messaging services.

One of these features is presence information. While the green, yellow, and red dots still hold value, the ability of presence information to improve engagement has expanded.

The right combination of presence information can help you set expectations with users and make your experience stickier in the process.

Presence in Application—the Desktop Standard

Those green, yellow, and red dots we’ve all come to expect in messaging applications give users a general sense of presence within the application. However, compared to more modern presence information like when users were last seen and delivery/read receipts, this indication of online/away/offline status seems less relevant.

That doesn’t mean presence in application information is useless. Concierge commerce is just one type of use case that can benefit from presence in application information.

The green dot tells users that an agent is actually available to help with a purchase. When your messaging experience promises a seamless shift from asynchronous chat to synchronous voice/video calls, this can be particularly useful.

Just be careful—when you set an expectation with presence in application information, users will expect near real-time responses. Make sure you’re prepared to meet these expectations.

Active and Last-Seen Information—the Mobile Initiative

When you’re focusing on mobile messaging, the green, yellow, and red dots lose their effectiveness. It doesn’t mean much to indicate online status on mobile because, with the help of push notifications, users could be considered online 100% of the time. Your users could manually change their statuses, but there are more effective ways to indicate mobile presence.

Active and last seen information have emerged to fill the presence gap between desktop and mobile. Rather than simply showing a user is online, activity information says when the users most recently opened your application.

When combined with other presence indicators, last seen information can help make sure users are making the right connections—especially in cross-platform applications.

Presence in Conversation—the Snapchat Movement

Love it or hate it, Snapchat doesn’t always follow the status quo for messaging experiences. While Snapchat didn’t invent presence in conversation indicators, they have certainly popularized it.

With this information, users can see if the other party is looking at the same view. What does this do for your engagement? This presence information sets an expectation that the other party in the conversation will respond quickly.

Rather than leaving your messaging experience, users will wait longer for a response, which expands engagement time and can make for more fluid transitions between asynchronous and synchronous communication.

This type of presence information might not be relevant in every scenario, but it gives you an idea of how you can mix and match presence indicators to boost engagement.

If you want to learn more about the messaging features that can have a significant impact on the conversation experience, check out our full Messaging Best Practices guide today.