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Facebook Launching Combined Inbox with Instagram

Facebook is making it easier for its business users to connect with customers. Businesses will now be able to link their Facebook, Messenger and Instagram accounts and receive all communications from those channels in a single inbox. Facebook-owned Instagram is also expected to get another feature in the near future: live video streaming.

Facebook’s new, combined inbox will roll out to brands that use the Pages app over the next few weeks, according to a post on the Facebook for Business blog. “You’ll be able to quickly scan all three channels for new updates and feel confident that you’re not missing an important message,” the post stated. The feature is a time-saver for social media managers, says Facebook. Users will be able to reply to Facebook comments, visitor posts, reviews, messages and Instagram comments directly from the updated inbox, with a simple tap of the finger. Another feature of the inbox: Companies can tap users’ names to see their publicly available profile information as well as previous interactions with their business.

Brands that use Pages can start the integration process by clicking the messaging icon at the bottom of their pages in the app and navigating to the Instagram tab, where they’ll be prompted to log in. Accounts that are already connected via Instagram ads will automatically receive the updated inbox.

This is the latest in a series of new features for both Instagram and Facebook that offer more seamless communication for businesses. Earlier this month, Instagram unveiled a new shopping feature that allows retailers to add shoppable tags to posted photos that link directly back to their e-commerce websites. And in October, Facebook launched its new Workplace communication platform, similar to Slack and Yammer.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told the Financial Times that the social media app will also be getting live video, but he didn’t have any details on when the service would launch or how it would work on the app. “Live is really exciting for us,” Systrom said. “I think it can enhance what we’re doing.” Live streaming is already a priority at parent company Facebook, which recently launched audience-building tools for publishers who broadcast through its service.