During the last F8 developer conference, Facebook announced the upcoming changes in Messenger. The app will be lighter and more user-friendly, “designed to build closer connections between people and businesses”. According to our CTO, “the changes are going in the right direction because Messenger is clunky”. We list and comment on the new improvements to keep you informed about Facebook’s regular updates in its flagship app.
Messenger improves communication between users and brands
Facebook constantly introduces new changes to Messenger that improve the performance of chatbots. This opens up new communication possibilities for companies and clients who use the messaging app on a daily basis.
- Dynamic persistent menu (closed beta): a default Messenger menu, which provides quick access to the most important features of chatbots. Until now, users have used a version with fixed elements. After modifications, they’ll be able to adjust the menu to their preferences. Right now, a closed beta version is available.
- Expanded private replies: from this year, chatbots can include elements such as photos, quick replies, and buttons in their automatic response messages.
- URL buttons with app link support: this means that you can direct users from a mobile app directly to your chatbot.
As you can see, Facebook finally started to listen to chatbot designers. With the last update, the company introduced many exciting changes. The beta version of the dynamic persistent menu allows to, for instance, display a sign in/out button depending on whether a user subscribes to a newsletter. Sending expanded private replies allows you to direct users to the right place inside your chatbot (up to now, it didn’t work so well). What’s more, with links to mobile apps (deep links), you can send users directly into a specific point in the app experience. Well done, Facebook! We’re getting ready in KODA Bots to update our platform.
Michał Pawełczyk, CTO KODA Bots
The American giant wants to improve the business results of companies on Messenger. It constantly runs tests and makes improvements. Facebook announced that the Discover Tab will be pulled from Messenger over the next few months. It wants to make it easier for users to contact companies on Messenger and promises investments in the updates of m.me Links, web plugins, new entry points leading to Messenger, and so on.
New tools to communicate with clients:
- Automated lead generation on Messenger: there will be a new template on Facebook Ads Manager, which will enable businesses to qualify leads within the messaging app. It will make it easier to continue conversations with clients directly on Messenger and integrate them with your CRM system.
- Appointment booking on Messenger: the solution has successfully passed beta tests after the F8 conference. It allows companies to integrate their calendars with the messaging app. Thanks to this functionality, businesses will be able to direct their conversations from Messenger to phone. The feature will be globally available later this year.
- Event reporting: this year, it will also be possible to report and track conversations in Messenger.
New Messenger features
Besides adding new tools, Messenger will also change certain rules governing the platform to better personalize communication between users and brands. Although this will take place on the 15th of January, 2020, the changes are so important Facebook decided to share them now.
- Main messaging window: will be updated every 24h. Messenger acknowledges clients who expect a quick response to their messages and takes care of companies that provide such a response. Within a 24-hour window, programmers will be able to use message tags and sponsored news to reach the target clients. The update will be adjusted to WhatsApp.
- Improved read receipts: with the new version, companies will be able to send personalized messages to people from outside of the main messaging window in several cases. For example, to contact clients after they make a purchase, remind them about current or upcoming events and account updates, send messages from the fan page admin.
- Sponsored messages: they stay untouched because Facebook noticed that sponsored messages are a great way for companies to send customized messages, engage clients, and increase sales.
- Subscription messaging (beta update): Facebook wants to limit access to this feature. It didn’t like that some companies used it against the rules and lowered the quality of conversations with users. Businesses that will register their websites through Facebook News Page index will be able to apply for beta tests to try out the new functionality.
Facebook is integrating Messenger with Instagram
The American giant won’t leave its sister companies alone. More and more Facebook functionalities are starting to integrate with Instagram and WhatsApp.
We already know that users will soon be able to exchange messages directly between WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. This means that if your friends are available on one of the three platforms, you can always chat via Messenger.
Bloomberg informs that Instagram Direct is being rebuilt based on Messenger (in terms of technology, not visual design). Users will be able to chat already in 2020 thanks to this integration.
But, what’s most important, Instagram Direct will have chatbots. And we’re very excited about it ?
Changes in Messenger – what will no longer be available in the app
We’ll no longer be able to use Location Quick Reply – a useful feature that allowed users to share their location within a conversation thread. It worked very well in the case of chatbots, for example, when clients wanted to find the location of a specific store. According to Facebook, companies now should ask users for postcodes and address details. Users will have to be patient. The American giant promises that Location Quick Reply is not disappearing forever. In the following months, a better solution will be implemented.
No more Share Button, which allowed recipients to share the message content with other users on Messenger. Instead, Facebook suggests using the Forward option built into smartphones. This is a problem when it comes to chatbot design.
Thanks to this button, we can see our click results or choose the option to share another message. I cannot answer what motivated Facebook to make such a decision. And I hope that it’s only a temporary measure, which will lead to an improved chatbot sharing functionality.
Ola Bilińska, Customer Success Manager, KODA Bots
What won’t work in the new Messenger app
So far, Messenger extensions SDK allowed brands and programmers to share website content directly within Messenger. Now, developers can generate a link using the WebView context. This enables users to copy such links and share them directly inside the app’s messaging window.
Furthermore, you’ll no longer be able to use Share to Messenger SDK to share links and media from your apps to Messenger. You might need to make changes to the apps. Users will be able to share content with Messenger using the native sharing features built into their devices.
Messenger Codes, which were a great solution both in terms of design and usability, disappear forever. To scan QR codes with the help of m.me links, users have to use the native features built into their smartphones. The app’s camera will be simplified so it will no longer support scanning Messenger Codes.
I get the feeling that it’s all happening at the moment when more brands decided to use Messenger Codes and when users started to understand how they work. This functionality is not disappearing forever, but the turn towards QR codes means going back to the past.
Ola Bilińska, Customer Success Manager, KODA Bots
Messenger features that will be available in a different form
Vertical List Templates are no longer available. This feature was rarely used in the case of chatbots. The reason is that parts of texts were cut on smaller screens and that the templates allowed to list only up to four items. Nevertheless, Vertical List Templates were helpful when users wanted to manage their subscriptions to different types of notifications. In the new version, they will be replaced with a simple carousel.
The nested menu will also be replaced. Instead of it, Facebook wants to move to a single layer menu format. As it argues, Messenger users will gain a more seamless experience.
What about the Open Graph template, which allowed users to share and play songs within Messenger? As a fallback, there will be a generic template that will link to the song’s URL. After they click on a song shared on Messenger, users will be directed to the location of that song – a website, app, or audio streaming platform – where they’ll be able to play it.
Facebook also no longer supports Messenger Bot Reviews, which enabled users to review Messenger bots with stars. This means that, after the 15th of August, page owners will no longer be able to publish their chatbot reviews.
Without change, we don’t move forward
Facebook and its apps have to make regular improvements to provide better services and satisfy users. It certainly doesn’t want to share the fate of portals like MySpace, which were successful several years ago but now are gone because they couldn’t keep up with the pace of market development. We can be sure of one thing – this is only the beginning because platform updates are announced nearly every month.
I wonder whether the deleted functionalities were chosen because of the users’ lack of interest? Did they slow the app down? Users of our chatbots rarely used the Share Button. But, at the same time, they liked to share their location. For chatbot designers, there are fewer options to choose from but UX is more important to Facebook! The Messenger app is overloaded. So the deleted functionalities are a small sacrifice when compared to the benefits the newest app version will bring.
Michał Pawełczyk, KODA Bots CTO