Messenger Platform 2.3 Release

The last few episodes focused on SMS. This episode we are going to snap back into the FB Messenger world in a big way. Today we’ll talk about new features that Facebook released, and we’ll get into a big permission update included in the Messenger platform 2.3 release. But before we get into that, as always if you have feedback, questions or comments, the best way to get in touch is to send a Message to the podcast FB Page – Open Facebook Messenger….

Back to Messenger Platform 2.3

First off, I love what the FB team is doing here. The innovation is incredibly fast and this is really the first time that I’ve gotten to know a development platform so well. It’s hard to keep up with all the new releases. Let’s look at what’s new

First up -Quick Replies with contact information. A lot of the campaigns that I build for organizations start with data acquisition. Typically how that goes is the user starts the conversation and the Page sends a Message that asks the user to respond with their email address typically. The user responds with their email and then the next message happens.

We see really high response rates. Once the conversation starts, we generally expect to see 50% or higher conversion rate for email collection. It’s actually much harder to start the conversation than it is to collect an email address.

With this new feature, Facebook is juicing this use case. So a bot can send a message that asks the user to reply with their email. Facebook will then show a user a button, with thier email address entered. All the user needs to do is push that button and their email will be messaged into the page. So instead of the user typing their email, Facebook auto-fills for a one-click experience. Facebook will also do this with the user’s phone number – so they will show the user a button where they can click and send in their number.

It’s pretty cool and it really validates a use case that I’ve been focusing on for a long time. But there might be a downside.

First of all, when you ask the user to send in their email address, the results are good. Almost always 50% or higher. Notably, asking the user for their phone number performs much worse. I believe that we saw about 24% conversion rate when we asked the user for their phone number so that we could text them. It’s still really good, and the cost per phone number was amazing, but just a big dip compared to email.

I guess the point I’m making is that I don’t know if typing the email or phone is friction that actually slows people down, or if they just don’t want to give the info. It will take some testing to see if there’s a difference, so it’s really about launching these quick replies and seeing how well they convert.

There is a bigger question though, is how good is this Facebook data? People signed up for Facebook years ago, and Facebook basically keeps you logged in forever. So the question is whether people still use the email or phone that they gave to Facebook when they signed up or if they have moved on. The reason this is a concern is that I’ve heard that data that Facebook shares in lead ads, doesn’t perform that well.

A lead ad is a type of Facebook Ad where FB autofills the email, name and phone number in a webform. It’s the same data that Facebook is autofilling here. The lead ads convert well, so clickers convert into emails, but I’m not sure if those emails perform up to par. Or to think about it another way, asking the user to type in their is effort, and that might actually prove to be a good signal that the user actually wants to give their email address – and make those typed in emails worth more. I’ve heard both very good and very bad things about the Lead Ad data – so again, we just need to test. Either way, this data autofill is a cool feature.

The next feature in 2.3 release is Customization for the Customer Chat Plugin. I usually call this the web chat plugin – it seems to have a lot of different names. This was a pretty cool feature release in the Fall. Anyone with a Facebook Page and a FB Messenger App can install some code on their website, and on the bottom right of a webpage, the Messenger icon appears. It shows a greeting, like “Click here to chat” and when a visitor clicks it opens a little messaging window and starts a conversation via messenger that is showing on the webpage. Previously, to start a conversation with a FB Page, the user needed to go to the FB Page, or open Messenger and talk to the Page that way. Now it’s possible to start a conversation from the website – but still have the conversation in Messenger.

Why is that cool? Well, this idea of live chat on the site has been a big trend. There are companies that do just that. The problem with traditional live chat (now that FB Messenger is here) is that traditional live chat lives in the browser. So a user can be in the chat while they’re on the page, but if they leave the page, the chat – the connection also ends. With FB Messenger, once they start the chat, the website has connected to them on Messenger. So even when the visitor closes the page, they still have Messenger on their phone. The website can respond the next day and the user will get that message.

All of this changes the dynamic of how live website webchat can work. When you have live chat, it needs to be staffed. If a visitor chats, doesn’t get a response and leaves they are gone for good. With Messenger, a connection has been established with the person, not just their page session. It’s possible to respond instantly with some automation and the Page can follow up directly in the future.

Anyways, this plugin was released in November, and we’re just starting to see it appear on websites. With the new release it’s possible to customize the greeting that the user sees. I believe the default is something like, “Click here to chat”, but now the page can say anything they’d like to frame the conversation.

The results I’ve seen from the web chat plugin have been so so, but it’s all going to depend on how much traffic the site has.

The BIG BIG announcement with this platform release(and I wouldn’t call it a feature) is a policy change and a break notice. The break notice means that it’s really important. This change will break existing apps or bots. This change requires a lot of background so hang tight. And if this is confusing, please message in any questions.

The way to set up a Messenger interaction, or bot, is through a Facebook App. So the brand has a Facebook Page of course – that’s where the user is sending their message. There will be a platform or system that manages the automation – like a 3rd party bot builder. And then there is a Facebook app that connects to both the Facebook Page and the bot builder platform.

Before launch, in the FB App we need to submit for approval from Facebook. There are two types of approval. The First is called Pages_messaging approval – this is the name FB uses. With this approval, Facebook is checking that the automation works. So they will test it, they send a message in and make sure they get a message back. Once approved the Page can launch their interaction, but only immediate messaging is allowed. When a user messages in, the page can respond.

There is a second type of approval called pages_subscription_messaging. Again, these are Facebook terms. Subscription approval is exaclty like it sounds. This approval is needed to send broadcast messages that happen outside of the scenario where the user has just messaged in.

Let’s add a little more detail. The first approval, pages_messaging gives the bot a 24 hour window to message the user after the user sends a message in. The bot can send any message it likes in that window – specifically there can be marketing or promotional messages. With the second approval, pages_subscription, the Page can send a message outside of the 24 hour window. The critical criteria is that Facebook explicitly does not allow broadcast messages to be marketing or promotional messages. In fact they only allow a few use cases – news alerts, productivity and personal tracking.

Alright, hopefully you’re following so far.

Now, when the Messenger Platform launched, a bunch of companies popped up that all called themselves the easiest way to build a Facebook bot. If the promise to the user is super fast setup, you can’t really ask the user to submit and wait for Facebook approval. So these companies would build a single Facebook App, get it approved for both the instant messages and subscription and then they would use this single app and approval to allow multiple customers to all use the same app and send both instant and broadcast messages.

The big change that Facebook announced is that messaging approvals will now happen at the page level – not the app level. So every page that wants to send messages needs approval and a single app cannot work for multiple pages. From the language, it appears that every FB Page that launched on Messenger, but did not get their own approval, will need to submit the page for approval and need to get it to keep running. It’s kind of a big deal – I do individual apps and approvals for each client and it’s definitely a process.

Why did Facebook do this? Here is my guess.

The first approval for instant messaging is pretty easy and straightforward. The second approval for subscriptions and broadcasts is much trickier. Facebook only allows a few use cases and specifically not marketing or promotional messages. The reason FB doesn’t allow for marketing or promotional broadcasts, is because they have a new ad called sponsored messages. If a Page wants to send a marketing broadcast, they pay Facebook to send a Sponsored Message.

Real quick aside, a sponsored message is an ad where Facebook will basically send a message only to people that have previously messaged into the FB Page. So basically, once someone messages in to the FB Page, that channel is now open to communicate with the user. If it’s a non-promotional use case, then the messaging can be free. If it’s a promotional use case, then the Page pays Facebook.

Currently we have these bot builder platforms that include the subscription messaging for customers by default. These customers never got approved and most of these customers don’t fully understand that marketing messages aren’t allowed. Some bot builder platforms actually promoting marketing broadcasts which is a clear violation. Facebook seemed to let it go, and my guess is that the Sponsored Message product wasn’t ready for prime time. But now sponsored messages have arrived and Facebook is starting to enforce their broadcast policy.

This will be a big reckoning for pages that think they’ve built a marketing automation list on Messenger and the rug is totally going to get pulled out from under them. It will most likely be a big hit to FAcebook’s numbers as well. But I think it’s a situation where they’ve grown the space for 2.5 years, and now they are going to test monotizing.

Either way, there are a lot of developers in the FB forums that have been complaining about pages that are cheating – sending marketing broadcasts. So it’s good that Facebook is enforcing their rules and leveling the playing field. We’ll see how this all goes.

That’s the big news. Thanks for listening.

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