Facebook made some changes to its Messenger policies as of March 4, 2020. But before you start to feel stressed, let’s get a few things clear about these updates:

📈 Messenger is and will continue to be a highly valuable, impactful channel for building relationships with customers and expanding your business. No changes there.

📍 Facebook isn’t shifting focus away from Messenger—in fact, all signs point towards them aiming to grow it even more. (Messenger was the first thing Zuckerberg mentioned in his keynote at F8 2019.) This channel isn’t going anywhere.

🔮 “Conversation is [still] the future of commerce.” Even Facebook says so.

Yes, these changes to the Messenger policy will likely require you to make some changes to your chatbot marketing strategy. But Facebook is updating their Messenger rules to protect and add value to the end user’s experience on Messenger. So the good news here is that your business will benefit from this, too.

How? Well, the Messenger team states that they designed these revised policies to “encourage businesses and developers” to do two things:

  1. Respond to customers in a timely fashion when they reach out.
  2. Share important updates that are personally relevant to their customers.

Faster response times + more relevant content = happier customers. 😄 Happier customers lead to higher brand trust, better reviews, more word-of-mouth, increased sales, and business success all around. 📈

And that’s exactly our job here at Chatfuel: to help you find business success with a Messenger bot. That’s why we’re here to guide you through these Facebook Messenger policy changes, so your business can adapt and thrive. Read on for everything you need to know about the updates, including how to adjust your Messenger strategies now and in the long term. 👇

What exactly has changed

Three main aspects of the Messenger policy changed as of March 4, 2020:

  1. The 24+1 window became the 24-hour window only
  2. The 17 message tags were reduced to four
  3. Subscription messaging became only be available to registered, approved news pages

#1. The 24+1 standard messaging window

It’s the time frame during which your business is allowed to contact users with promotional or non-promotional content for free. The window opens and reopens any time a bot user responds to you in Messenger.

The update: It’s changing from 24+1 to 24 hours only.

24h standard messaging window

#2. Message tags

The only free messages your business can send outside of Facebook’s standard messaging window are those that fit one of their specific use cases. Each use case has a corresponding tag that you have to apply to the relevant message. Tagged messages can’t include promotional content.

The update: There will now only be four tags instead of 17.

message tags

#3. Subscription messaging

Just like message tags, subscription messaging allows certain businesses to send regular, non-promotional updates on specific topics to users outside of the standard window.

The update: Only registered news pages will be able to use subscription messaging.

subscription messaging

Meet your new message tags

As mentioned, Facebook is cutting their message tags from 17 to a more-manageable four. Three of these four tags are available for use as of March 4, 2020. The fourth (HUMAN_AGENT) is in closed beta for the time being.

Properly tagging any messages your business may send outside the 24-hour window is crucial. If you tag and send content that doesn’t fit the rules, Facebook will enforce consequences for your page—ranging from blocking your ability to send messages to potentially blocking or deleting your page entirely.

We've also created this chart to help you decide how to best contact your chatbot users in light of these policy changes.

Facebook’s new One-Time Notification (OTN)

One more thing: Facebook also released a One-Time notification API in February 2020. It lets businesses send one, single message outside of the standard messaging window if the user has requested it. For example, if a user’s preferred t-shirt size is out of stock at a certain online store, they can request to receive a single notification from the brand via Messenger when that size is back in stock.

Here's how to set up One-Time Notifications in Chatfuel. 👇(Note that Facebook's new set of policies in response to EU privacy laws mean that some bots may not be able to use OTNs after December 16, 2020. Check our guide to find out if these new rules affect your chatbot.)

Tips creating a compliant Messenger marketing strategy

Here are a few tips and areas to focus on so you can continue effectively reaching users with helpful content from your brand.

Apply for subscription messaging if applicable. 📰

Are you part of a news organization that wants to send non-promotional subscription message outside the standard messaging window? If so, you have to register with the Facebook News Page Index (NPI) and be approved.

Start sending sponsored messages. 💬

A sponsored message is another type of Facebook ad. So they’re not free, but they do allow you total freedom as far as what content you can send to users via Messenger, and when. (But you have to stay within Facebook’s Community Standards, of course—no hate speech, violence, adult content, etc.!)

The 24-hour window doesn’t apply to sponsored messages, so you can send promotional content this way to reengage inactive users at any time. Learn how to set up a sponsored message and link it to your bot with our Sponsored Message Entry Point. 👇

Sponsored messages can have a huge impact—and without breaking the bank. To prove it, we ran our own sponsored-message campaign here at Chatfuel. We spent $9.19 to send 1,136 messages, which is less than once cent per message—on par with what the average SMS-marketing provider charges per text recipient. Of those, we were able to restart 282 conversations, which comes out to a cool $.03 each. 😎

Our sponsored-message campaign cost us $.03 per restarted conversation.

💡 Tip: If your sponsored message will only be relevant to some of your chatbot users, you can send it just to them. To do this, create a segment of the users who you want to receive your message in Chatfuel's People tab. Then use the Segment Sync feature to easily sync their data to Ads Manager. From there, creating a custom audience for your message (and regularly updating it to reflect those who have unsubscribed or already converted) is a breeze.

Focus on a multichannel sales and marketing strategy. 📊

In a survey of over 45,000 shoppers, the Harvard Business Review found that 73% shopped on more than one channel. And those people are buying more, too: Multichannel shoppers spend 3x more than single-channel shoppers. This means that expanding your marketing strategy to reach customers on other channels in addition to Messenger is a smart move, policy changes or no policy changes.

You can use your Messenger bot as the front-end of your sales funnel, then gather user contact information so you can reach out on other channels later. SMS and email marketing are two we recommend. Not sure where to start? Watch this video on integrating your bot with an automated text-marketing service. 👇

Experiment with Instagram. 📸

The ability to run Instagram ads that send users to your DMs has been around for a while, and we recommend making use of it. But there are even more powerful new functionalities coming soon to Instagram! Check out these 10 reasons your business should be on Instagram—a list that culminates with Facebook's October 2020 announcement about the Instagram API. In a nutshell, initiating and managing valuable conversations with your prospects and customers on Instagram is about to get lots easier! At Chatfuel, we're working on some powerful tools to help. Sign up to get notified when we launch them. Check out Facebook expert Mari Smith's reaction to the Instagram API announcement, and her take on what it will mean for businesses. 👇

Encourage users to make the first move. 👋

Of course, if a user engages with your bot without being prompted, the 24-hour window reopens. To encourage that, first make sure your Facebook bot is designed with the user in mind. It should delight, inform, assist, or otherwise add value to every user it interacts with—and it's your job to tell users about these capabilities, so they'll want to revisit it. Your Messenger bot should function as an engagement tool to facilitate compelling, useful conversations and build relationships with customers.

Then, make your bot available in as many places as possible. Again: Whenever you embed or link to it, make sure to tell your audience there about what it can do for them and why they should come back and use it again.

  • Use the Customer Chat Entry Point so your Messenger bot can appear in a chat window on your website. It’s a great way to get new bot users, but can also encourage reengagement with existing users who go there to browse.
  • Share the link to your bot in emails or on social media. (You can also use the Bot Link Entry Point to send users to a specific portion of your bot, like the flow for a contest or quiz.) Remember: In the email or post, mention why users should come back to chat with your bot again. Make it explicitly clear how it can help them.
  • Create a post on your business page with the Get Messages objective and pin it there. That way, both existing and potential new bot users will see it whenever they visit your page.
When you choose “Get Messages” when creating a Facebook post, the Send Message button will be automatically embedded. It’ll direct users right to your bot.

The future of Messenger marketing is bright ✨

These Messenger policy changes show that Facebook is more focused on the Messenger channel than ever. To see continued success on this platform for your business, shift your strategies to comply with the new rules. As always, Facebook will continue to reward businesses who follow their policies.

Have questions or need more information on adapting your chatbot?

Cheers to your business’s continued success with conversational commerce on Facebook Messenger!