You might remember a blog we wrote a few months ago, detailing changes coming to Messenger and Chatbot broadcasting this year. Well, that deadline has been and gone with those changes now in full effect. Don’t hold your breath though, Messenger has since announced even more updates to the service. In a statement made by the Head of People to Business Messaging, Ze’ev Rosenstien, he said “we are making updates to our platform to improve the user experience for people, and to help businesses drive more effective outcomes on Messenger”.
To recap, the updates that were unveiled earlier in the year were:
- Standard messaging (A.K.A the 24+1 rule)
- Message Tags
- Sponsored Messages
Messengers new changes effectively override these previous updates and are as follows:
- Standard messaging is now limited to 24 hours, no more extra day to send messages
- Page-level subscription messaging is being scrapped, only being available for ‘News’ pages
- Message tags are being reduced from 17 to 4
Previously you were able to send messages without restrictions to anyone who had interacted with your Chatbot in the past 24 hours, and one other message after that 24-hour period. Hence it was known as the 24+1 rule. Messenger is now scrapping the ‘+1’ aspect of the rule, giving you just 24 hours you need to make the most out of. Inside that 24 hours you can send rich messages and follow up with them, but once the window passes that is it.
It is thought that due to Chatbot services not receiving much use of the 24+1 follow-up rule, that this is the reason why Messenger have purged this once useful ability. The earnest now is on you to be clever with your messaging. Despite it being a paid solution, the recommendation is to switch over to sponsored messaging and hooking in a user with an engaging and action-provoking message. Once your business has been interacted with, you can message freely for 24 hours.
It is also worth thinking about ways you can extend the 24-hour period available. For example, although it may seem risky why not wait 23 hours and hit users with a compelling message. If they then interact in the 1 hour before the 24 hours is up, the time frame resets, and you are free to message again. Other tactics such as sequencing and smart delay enable you to get the most out of this crucial 24-hour period and ensure you can stay messaging users to your heart’s content.
Instances which activate the 24-hour standard messaging window is as follows:
- User sends a message to the page
- User clicks a call-to-action button like ‘Get Started’ within a Messenger conversation
- User clicks on a Click-to-Messenger ad and starts a conversation
- User starts a conversation with a Page via a plugin, such as Send to Messenger plugin or the Checkbox plugin
- User clicks on an m.me link with a reference parameter on an existing thread
- User posts or comments on a Page and is responded to via a Private Reply
One of the key areas that Facebook changed was the ability for businesses to use the ‘NON_PROMOTIONAL_SUBSCRIPTION’ tag, which initially changed from being available on an app-level basis to a page-level basis. This meant that earlier this year there was a mad rush from pages to apply for this page-level subscription messaging. Initially there were three categories that you could apply for subscription messaging under – News, Productivity and Personal Tracking. Each of these message types had a number of different scenarios that pages could send non-promotional messages under.
Facebook’s latest round of adjustments to the rules has reduced this down to only ‘News’, allowing pages sending messages that ‘Informs people about recent or important events or information in categories including but not limited to sports, finance, business, real estate, weather, traffic, politics, government, non-profit organisations, religion, celebrities and entertainment’. It can be assumed that it’s unlikely messages you need to send will be in relation to any of these particular topics.
Again, it appears that lack of action on the part of the many Facebook pages is the reason for Messenger to U-turn this particular decision. Had more people applied for and received page-level permission then maybe this feature would’ve stayed. For now, this is not the case and is what was so great about the 17 message tags that Facebook offered.
Message tags reduction
To get around this Messenger offered a number of message tags that allowed a business to contact their customers outside of the 24-hour window. Each of the old message tags were designed with a specific use in mind, for example confirmed event reminders, shipping updates, account notifications and more. Messenger has gone and trimmed the selection of tags down from 17 to a mere 4.
These 4 tags are:
- Confirmed event – the ability to send a user reminders or updates for an event they have registered for. This tag can also be used for upcoming events and events in progress.
- Post purchase – notify a user of an update on a recent purchase.
- Account update – notify a user of a non-recurring change to their application or account.
- Human agent – allows human agents to respond to user queries. Messages can be sent up to 7 days after the user messages.
The idea here to simplify the tag process and make it more obvious what’s allowed in Messenger itself. It is worth noting the 5 tags that didn’t make the cut at all – Feature Functionality Update, Community Alert, Game Event, Pairing Update and Non-Promotional Subscription. All of the other 12 have been streamlined under one of the 4 above message tags.
For any messages that fall outside of these new message tags, the route you will need to take is to send a paid, sponsored message. Sponsored messages, unlike the old broadcasting system, can include promotional content from the off. This should, in theory, raise conversion figures.
Messenger is an incredibly effective tool to be able to form relationships with your customers. You can send them content, sell, automate and even provide customer service responses. The changes to Messenger broadcasting may make the future of the platform as a marketing channel seem bleak, but all is not lost.
When using Messenger going forward you should consider its purpose as part of your wider marketing mix. Make the initial point of contact using Messenger, segmenting down the audience by asking questions before finally requesting an alternative form of contact. This could be an email address or phone number, for example, which have less stringent rules about frequency of contact.
You should be constantly looking at how to re-engage your audience with Messenger, to re-initiate the 24-hour period of free contact. Email or text a link to direct the user back into Messenger, allowing you to broadcast to them once again. This is likely a cycle that will repeat itself and before too long you should have segmented lists of users with varying levels of engagement. In the long-term this will streamline your Messenger marketing strategy, giving you the ability to tailor specific content to these targeted audiences.
Even though further updates can be frustrating, it is important to remember that these new rules may not be set in stone. As we’ve already seen Messenger has adapted the original changes set out earlier in the year, after only a month of these changes being live. It can therefore be assumed that more updates are coming, which could work in the savvy marketer’s favour. How do you feel about the new changes? Let us know in the comments below if you’re ready for what’s to come.