Changes in Messenger in 2020 that you should know about
Facebook has made us used to regular updates to its flagship app, which affect the online business operations. During its recent F8 conference, the company announced Messenger to become lighter and simpler and designed to “connect people and businesses more closely.” We automate communication between organizations or brands and their customers on a daily basis, also in this popular messaging tool. This is why we are up to date with the key changes in the application, which we describe and comment on for you.
Revised on: 4.08.2020
Messenger for Facebook Shops
If you carry out sales in the Facebook environment, its new update will definitely appeal to you. One of its enhancements is Messenger support for Facebook Shops.
What does this mean in practice? From now on items sold via Facebook’s tools: Facebook Shops, Marketplaces and Instagram Shops, will have the display option in Messenger. This integration will allow customers to browse product catalogs in chat, experience personalized shopping and then transact faster. It’s of great importance for chatbots operating in the Messenger environment. Once integrated, chatbots will further support online sales, by providing a seamless and convenient shopping experience on Facebook.
Revised on: 19.06.2020
Business Inbox in Messenger
A major update to Messenger’s Business Inbox took place in early June, making it easier for businesses to communicate with customers directly in Facebook’s flagship app. The new Inbox is designed to let business owners and message moderators chat with customers without having to log into Facebook Page Manager. Plus, when replying to a customer’s request, you can choose whether you reply personally or as a business.
Businesses don’t have to make any changes to take advantage of the new feature, Facebook claims. It will launch automatically as long as a personal account is linked to a company’s Facebook page.
Business Inbox is already available on iOS.
I’d look at this ad-on as especially useful for SME. It will enable their owners or account administrators to answer urgent requests faster in Messenger. At the same time, they will be able to use inboxes of Facebook Page Manager or other systems to manage their communications centrally.
Messenger plugin available for not logged in users
Customer Chat Plugin is a plugin which allows you to place a Messenger chat box on your business website. This way, Facebook allows you to combine messages directed to businesses in different locations and expands its services for businesses.
So far, the feature’s had one considerable problem: to chat with a business using Customer Chat Plugin, the user had to have a Facebook account. A Messenger update in May is expected to change that.
As of now, users who message businesses using the website plugin don’t need to be logged into the app. This update can improve the Messenger utility in terms of customer service.
This is big news for all chatbot owners using a website Messenger plugin. Now, customers won’t have to log into Facebook to use the chatbot.
Facebook listens to the needs of its audience and responds to Messenger’s limitations with technology. However, we need to test it well first, before we can draw larger conclusions about the feature’s performance. At this point, I think it’s a good step towards making Messenger more accessible along with chatbots developed there.
Revised on: 01.03.2020
Facebook removes Messenger’s Discover tab
The US giant is rolling out more changes to the mobile version of its popular app. Last year it cleverly hid the Discover tab, where it placed chatbots along with games, only to officially confirm that it finally removes it. This – Facebook claims – is being done to focus on the speed and simplicity of the app itself.
The announced changes are actually part of a larger redesign of Messenger, which is expected to bring friend-to-friend interactions back to the forefront and make it easier to access content published on the platform. The new Messenger will have 2 main tabs: People and Chats. The first one will give the user access to the Stories section, which contains content posted by other users. The second tab remains unchanged and, as until now, will be used for direct communication with chosen users.
The implemented changes mean reduced exposure for chatbots which allow users to interact directly with specific brands. The Messenger bots will still be available, if users target them directly via the Messenger search bar, Facebook pages and ads, start-chat buttons on company websites and the m.me URL, which creates QR codes opened for business accounts in the popular app.
This means that businesses will have to rely on proprietary or paid solutions to increase traffic to this communication channel. The truth is that they’ve already been doing it anyway, because following the previous changes, the Discover tab lost its power in connecting chatbots with their recipients.
There’s more to the new order in the popular app. Facebook has also made some changes in the iOS version, which may go away in a while, or stay with us for longer.
1. The users no longer have the option to choose emoji in Messenger. Only stickers and gifs are available.
2. The photo upload feature design has also changed.
3. Changes have also been introduced to the message and button display:
a) The message width adjusts to match the width of the text and buttons. If they don’t take up standard dimensions, they get narrower. This previously made no difference as the width was always the same.
b) Similar changes have been applied to the carousel. The window width adjusts to match the width of the text and buttons.
c) If the buttons under a message or carousel are made short, they line up next to each other in the new release. Previously, they lined up one by one even when using a single character.
4. Menu changes
In the “sandwich” menu, if we stick to the tree design and not just three buttons, all options appear now in one place right from the start. This is most likely a temporary fix, since Facebook has dropped the button grading and we can consider it a transition period, until the announced change is implemented.
5. “Get started” Button
The (Get started) button for a new chatbot conversation appears as quick reply. Before, it definitely looked more like a button under a message.
6. Message responses
Users have also acquired new emoji as part of their message response.
7. Quick replies changes
Quick replies have been moved to the right side.
All of the changes are available on iOS. For Android so far, the carousel button view has been changed.
Revised on: 06.01.2019
No more Messenger without Facebook
Facebook has removed the Messenger login option with the phone number. You need to create an account on the site to use the popular app. The change applies to all new users. The existing ones can use Messenger under the old rules.
The US giant explains the new logins standardization by making Messenger easier to use. For – as it claims – today most people using Messenger already log in via Facebook.
This change can be seen as the next step into the integration of the American giant services. And Facebook is open about connecting directly Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
It has already made specific steps in this direction. Besides making the messaging experience more unified across its apps earlier this year, back in November Facebook launched a new brand with a logo in colors affiliated with its various apps, using the phrase “from Facebook.”
Revised on: 23.12.2019
Facebook updates push notification policy
The American giant always highlights that it is keen to make Messenger meet the expectations of both users and businesses who use this popular application to automate customers communication.
On top of the changes announced in August this year, which I mention below, it has added more, following diverse feedback gathered from the community.
Thus, Facebook extends the timeframe to get ready for future policies and the introduction of new messaging features, which were supposed to be implemented on January 15, 2020. The revised date is March 4, 2020. Let’s recall what will change then:
Main message window: subject to updates up to 24 hours. Messenger recognizes that customers expect quick replies to their messages, and makes sure businesses benefit from proper responses. In the meanwhile, brands can freely create content that they target users with. The update will be aligned with WhatsApp.
After 24 hours, we have the following options:
- Message Tags: new version will allow businesses to send personalized messages outside the main message window in a number of cases, e.g.
– following the recent purchase (POST_PURCHASE_UPDATE)
– reminders about upcoming and ongoing events (CONFIRMED_EVENT_UPDATE)
– account update (ACCOUNT_UPDATE)
– messages from the fanpage admin (HUMAN_AGENT)
- Sponsored messages: this format stays, since Facebook considers it a great way for businesses to send targeted messages aimed at increasing customer engagement and sales.
- Message subscription: Facebook intends to restrict access to this feature. Most chatbots used it to send content to users, at times even without the user’s consent. The only way to use this option will be by signing up for the Facebook News Page Index, available for news pages.
- (NEW) Option to send 1 message (alert), when a user has signed up for it, e.g. for price alerts or event ticket purchases. Unlike subscriptions, the one-time notification API limits the business to one message per user request. Based on the user’s consent, the business will receive a token and can use it to send a notification with the requested information. Once the user gets engaged with the message, the standard message window reopens. We can send a reminder message within one year after the consent receipt. The token expires afterwards. We can only control the “Do you want to receive a notification?” section, having a 60-character limit. The beta option is available as of February 4, 2020.
Note: Messages with no message tag will not be delivered apart from the 24-hour message window, as of March 4, 2020.
Below are examples of user actions that open the 24-hour standard messaging window:
- User sends a message via brand’s Facebook page
- User clicks on Get started button in a chat conversation
- User clicks on a Click-to-Messenger ad and then starts a conversation with the page
- User starts a conversation with the page using a plugin, such as Send to Messenger or Checkbox
- User clicks on a m.me link with a ref parameter in an existing thread
Comparing existing and new policies
Facebook aims to prioritize conversations started by users. It’s also committed to ensure that every message received from a business delivers value, i.e. has personalized form, clarity in communication and timeliness.
(applicable until March 4, 2020)
(applicable from March 4, 2020)
– standard messages
|– 24 hours following a customer interaction|
– may be promotional
|– remains unchanged|
|Any 1 message after 24 hours||– may be promotional|
|– not available|
|Message subscription||– only 3 non-promotional uses|
|– only for news pages (NPI index)|
|Message tags||– can be sent outside the 24-hour window|
– 16 supported uses
|– can be sent outside the 24-hour window|
– 3 supported uses (mainly combines the previous 16)
– new use added to message from the fanpage admin (Human_Agent (Beta))
|Sponsored messages||– reaching the website’s existing audience|
– may be promotional
|– remains unchanged|
Revised on: 29.10.2019
Messenger enhances users-to-businesses conversations
Overshadowed by the global Messenger failure, which affected the app’s users in Poland to a smaller extent, Facebook announces further changes to the platform.
The US giant has started testing end-to-end encryption for audio and video calls. This is a component of the Secret Conversations feature, which currently allows for encrypting text messages. The implementation date for calls is not yet known, but it will probably happen sooner than later.
Other interesting changes include:
- Click-to-Messenger ads serving protocol: businesses with multiple applications linked to their fanpages will now be able to dynamically select application they want to use to start a conversation after clicking on an ad.
- Ice Breakers feature: the solution designed to reduce friction while starting a conversation can now be set in your Messenger profile via API.
- Reactions to user responses: chatbots can pick up events when users respond or reply to messages from businesses. This allows them to get the context of the response referenced by the user and subscribe to the reactions.
- Admin content filtering: messages sent by an admin can now filter threads through API, allowing you to retrieve messages without admin content.
Revised on: 30.09.2019
Facebook rolls out more changes in its Messenger to improve chatbots. This brings new opportunities for businesses and their customers to communicate on Messenger, and thus comprises a great gesture towards them.
- Dynamic persistent menu (closed beta): the default Messenger menu, i.e. quick access to the most important features in a chatbot. Up to now, all users have used a single version with fixed elements. With the changes, the menu will be customizable to the user. The solution is now in closed beta testing.
- Enhanced auto-reply to comments: as of this year, elements such as images, buttons and short answers can be added to a chatbot’s auto-reply to a comment.
- Mobile app opening button: or the option to bring the user to the mobile app straight from the chatbot.
Apparently, Facebook has begun to listen to the chatbot developers and in the next update prepared a set of functional changes. The dynamic “persistent menu” makes it possible, for example, to display a newsletter subscribe/unsubscribe button, depending on whether the user subscribes to notifications or not (closed beta). Sending an enhanced auto-reply to a comment will direct the user to the appropriate chatbot location (until now this was not always the case), and deep links will take the user to a particular mobile app view. Well done with the update, Facebook! Getting down to platform update at KODA.
Revised on: 29.08.2019
The US giant wants to boost businesses’ performance in Messenger. It constantly tests and improves its messaging app. It’s announced a gradual phasing out of the Discover tab over the next few months. Facebook intends to make it easier for users to contact businesses in Messenger and has announced investments in updates to m.me links, web plugins, new advertising products linking to Messenger, etc.
New customer communication tools:
- Generating leads in Messenger: a new template in Facebook Ads Manager is being developed, which will enable businesses to qualify leads directly from the platform, making it possible to continue conversations with potential customers directly in Messenger and integrating the chats in CRM.
- Meeting arrangements in Messenger: The solution successfully completed beta testing, following the F8 conference. It helps businesses integrate their calendar with Messenger. The feature allows businesses to redirect conversations from Messenger to the phone. It will go live globally later this year.
- Event Reporting: This year, Messenger will also acquire a feature to report and track conversions of ongoing chats.
Revised on: 13.08.2019
Facebook to integrate Messenger with Instagram’s messaging app
The American giant refuses to leave its other two sister companies behind. A growing number of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp features are starting to integrate.
It’s already known that users will send messages directly from WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram soon. This means that friends available on any of these three online platforms will talk to each other via chat.
Bloomberg reports that Instagram Direct is getting a Messenger-like redesign. However, it’s in terms of technology, not design. With this integration, users will share information with each other via chat as early as in 2020.
Most importantly, chatbots will be added to Instagram Direct. And we can’t wait for it.
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Revised on: 13.06.2019
Changes to Messenger: we won’t find these in the app anymore
We will no longer see location sharing – a handy feature that lets users send their location in a conversation thread. The solution worked very well for chatbots, e.g. when searching for the location of a particular store. Facebook now advises businesses to ask for zip code and address information. And the user has to be patient, because – as the American giant announces – the feature does not disappear forever. In the coming months, a decent replacement will arrive, which is expected to quickly wipe out the current solution.
We will also come to say goodbye to the “Share” button. Facebook recommends using the built-in “forward” option instead. This is a problem when looking at developing chatbots.
This button allows us to check the click results or apply the sharing option of another message. I don’t know what was the reason for this decision and I hope that it’s just a temporary fix, resulting in an improved chatbot sharing feature.
Things that won’t work in the new Messenger app
Up until now, the Messenger SDK has allowed developers and businesses to trigger on-page sharing that appears directly in Messenger. With this new release, developers will generate the link using context in the webview, thus providing the user with the option to copy the link and share it in a Messenger dialog.
Moving forward, the Messenger SDK will no longer allow for sharing links and media from apps to Messenger. This will most likely bring about the need for changes in the apps themselves. To share such content, users will use native features on their smartphones.
Messenger Codes, which both in their format and application beat available solutions, are gone forever. Facebook offers to rely on the phone’s native features to scan QR codes, using m.me links. Once changed, the app’s simplified camera will not be able to scan them.
I feel like this is coming at a time when more and more brands have dared to use Messenger codes, and users have begun to understand how they work. The feature doesn’t disappear completely, but the shift towards QR codes is a strong throwback.
Messenger features that stay but change their form
Vertical list templates will disappear. They are used very rarely with chatbots. This is because of the solution’s limitations (truncated text on smaller screens, or only four “bullet” options). It still doesn’t change the fact that e.g. with the option to subscribe to several notification types, the list works perfectly well in managing them by the user. In the new app release, the existing solution will be replaced by a proven carousel.
Embedded menu also changes its form. Facebook is shifting to a fixed single-layer menu format. This, it argues, is to create a better experience for users of the messaging app.
Meanwhile, the Open Grapf template, which allows users to play songs in Messenger, will be replaced by a generic template, linked to a URL. Once a user clicks on a song shared in Messenger, they will be taken to the page where the song is located or to an app where they can play it.
The existing chatbot ratings will be removed. Previously, they allowed users to review bots on Messenger using stars. This way, after August 15, site owners will no longer be able to display these ratings everywhere they could.
Construction site gets bigger
Facebook and its applications need to change. Certainly, Menlo Park doesn’t want to follow the fate of platforms which enjoyed huge popularity a few years ago (e.g. MySpace), and now almost disappeared from the Internet, because they couldn’t keep up with the pace of market developments. Only one thing we can be sure of: this is just the beginning, as almost every month we receive new information about upcoming changes to this platform.
I only wonder if the selected features that were dropped were decided because of low interest among users? Or were they the ones that slowed down the app the most? Our chatbot users rarely used the sharing feature. This was not the case with the location one. This leaves us with slightly fewer options to use when developing chatbots, but for Facebook, UX is more important! Messenger is an overloaded application. It runs slowly and is frequently unstable. The removed features are a minor sacrifice compared to the benefits that a new release of the popular app can bring.
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