Facebook Messenger has new rules, in effect since the 4th of March. They restrict the ability of business pages to send free messages to Facebook users and enforce new rules for the use of chatbots. It is important to know what you have to do in order to continue to send free messages. Otherwise, your Messenger chats will be subject to charges, just like ads.
What Triggered the Changes in Facebook Messenger Chatbot Use?
The Facebook Team intended to enforce the new rules by late July originally, but made them effective on the 4th of March. As Ze’ev Rosenstein, Head of People to Business at Messenger explained:
“At Messenger, we want to help people and businesses connect in meaningful ways. We remain committed to helping businesses continue to grow and thrive on our platform. That’s why we are making updates to our platform to improve the user experience for people, and to help businesses drive more effective outcomes on Messenger.”
These PR words are great, but what do they mean exactly do they mean for marketers and business owners? In short, they mean fewer possibilities to interact one-on-one with prospects and clients.
What Are the Changes to Facebook Messenger for Businesses?
In short there are four major changes that we will deal with in detail. These are:
- The 24+1 hours rule to answer a direct message is reduced to 24 hours;
- The 13 message tags are reduced to 4 tags;
- Subscription Messaging will be available to News pages only;
- One-Time Notification API available for important follow-up messages.
The only thing that stays the same is the possibility to send promotional messages on Facebook Messenger. Thus, the changes made to ability to use chatbots to interact with your followers have a clear goal in mind: to increase the monetisation of Facebook Messenger.
Let Us Take a Closer Look at the New Facebook Messenger Rules
To make things easier to understand, we will explain both the current situation and the one existing previously.
1. Message Reply Window Is Limited at 24 Hours
What the old rule stated: businesses can reply to users who subscribed to their Messenger chatbot within 24 hours plus 1 additional message after this time expires.
How the rule changed: at the present, Facebook business pages can reply to a user only within the 24-hour window. The additional message is no longer available.
This means that it is more important than ever to have a Messenger chatbot that replies instantly to user requests, even outside of business hours. It is especially important for digital businesses that serve an international market. If your follower lives in a different time zone, it may be impractical to rely on a social media team to manage direct messages.
2. You Have Fewer Message Tags to Choose From
What the old rule stated: businesses could select one of 13 different tags for their direct messages on Faceboook Messenger. These tags are attached to messages sent outside the 24-hour reply window to avoid being charged for a promotional message.
How the rule changed: now businesses can only select from one of the following four tags for free messages outside the 24-hour window:
- Confirmed event update: this is a confirmation sent to a user who registered for an online event, such as a webinar. The business can send a reminder of the event coming up and notifications of changes to the schedule;
- Post purchase update: the business can send a message to confirm the order, to share the receipt and shipping updates. The chatbot can also notify the client of unexpected changes, such as item being out of stock, which require a direct action from the client;
- Account updates: notify the user by Facebook Messenger of application approval/rejection and critical information, such as hacking and fraud attempts;
- Human agent (closed beta): solve customer service issues that take longer than 24 hours due to complexity or factors such as different time zones.
Thus, practically, you can only use three of the tags so far, as the human agent tag has a closed beta status.
3. Subscription Messaging Will Be Available to News Pages Only
What the old rule stated: Facebook business pages could submit their Messanger chatbot for approval for Subscription Messaging for three categories: News, Productivity, and Personal Tracking.
How the rule changed: now, only News Pages are allowed to register for Subscription Messages.
This means that if your business is not classified as a news outlet, you can no longer invite users to subscribe to receive messages in Facebook Messenger. Attention! Do not attempt to change your business category to bypass the new rule. Facebook will review your content and may delete your page if they note that it is breaching the terms and conditions.
4. One Time Notification API
After so much bad news, here’s a piece of good news: a new API will allow pages to add a one-time notification token to a Facebook Messenger message. For example, if a user inquires about a product and the chatbot answers that it is out of stock, it can add a “Notify me” button for when it is back in stock.
If the user clicks on that button, the notification token is activated and the page can use it for one (only one) free notification when the item is back in stock.
This, of course, applies to other types of important notifications, as well.