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February 2, 2018

How Facebook Beefed Up Messenger for Businesses

“There’s an app consolidating phenomenon where people spend time on fewer and fewer apps. . . So, if you want to reach out to your consumers on mobile, you have to be considering Messenger.” – Kemal El Moujahid, Facebook’s Product Manager for Messenger

Facebook is the proud owner of one of the world’s most popular apps.

I’m not talking about the Facebook app itself, nor am I referencing Instagram. The app in question is Facebook Messenger and its 1.3 billion active users.

The social website’s standalone messaging application has grown to be nearly as popular as the social network itself. Facebook, however, is not treating the app as a mere extension of its core service. No, Facebook is quickly spinning the product out to be its own unique ecosystem where over 2 billion messages are exchanged each month and many services are touted.

With the unbridled success the application has achieved, it comes as no surprise that the company has been seeking – and succeeding in – finding a myriad of ways for businesses to leverage Facebook Messenger.

Last year alone, Facebook brought three substantial, business-focused updates to the app so that brands could interact with their followers in new and exciting ways.

If you are interested in what Facebook’s messaging service has to offer your organization, check out the new features that accompanied each of 2017’s Messenger updates.

Messenger 2.0

On April 18th of last year, at Facebook’s F8 conference, the company unveiled Messenger 2.0 and all the awesome features that went along with it.

For this update, Facebook brought out the big guns and made some significant changes to the platform. The most noticeable of which is the “Discovery” tab; a section dedicated wholly to business offerings.

Represented by a hexagon logo, the Discover tab features businesses who tout popular chatbots, along with a slew of categories where users can find relevant offerings. Some of the categories include education, food and drink, lifestyle, news, productivity, shopping, and many others. Additionally, the Discover tab features a search field if you’re trying to find something specific.

Another important feature this update boasted was chat extensions.

Chat extensions serve as a way for multiple people to interact with a business chatbot simultaneously. For example, if users in a group discussion wanted to hear a Taylor Swift song, one would simply tap the “+” icon, choose Spotify, enter the name of the song, and hit “Send to Group.” Doing so would drop the song in the thread where users can listen to it.

This feature is not limited to mere music and can be applied to making food reservations, travel plans, and tons of other use cases.

Smart Replies was another addition to Messenger 2.0 which added what is essentially automated answers to frequently asked questions for brands who don’t employ AI counterparts.

While these were the most notable additions, you can check out the rest of the features added to this update in Facebook’s Messenger 2.0 blog post.

Messenger 2.1

Shortly after the April update, Facebook rolled out yet another powerful update to the Messenger platform.

This time, the company placed much of its focus on implementing and uplifting its natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. This addition helped the platform identify key information within messages to create a better user experience for consumers:

“This first version can detect the following entities: hello, bye, thanks, date & time, location, amount of money, phone number, email and a URL. This is the first step in bringing NLP capabilities to all developers, enabling brands to scale their experiences on Messenger.”

This new inclusion helps ensure that users obtain speedy and accurate assistance from bots. This is of great importance after Facebook’s AI bots hit a 70% failure rate back in February.

It’s likely that this failure is also what lead to the incorporation of the handover protocol; a way for humans to take over conversations from chatbots when special support is called for.

Alongside these updates, Facebook also implemented an expanded set of Page buttons within the app. These are intended to be placed on business pages to drive consumers to the brand’s messaging experience. The new CTAs include Shop Now, Get Support, Get Updates, Play Now, and Get Started.

The final notable feature is the platform’s new seamless payment flow which is a contemporary SDK that enables customers to make payments through a single step process, greatly reducing transaction friction. This, however, is still in beta and only available in the U.S.

Messenger 2.2

In the most recent update, the release of Facebook Messenger 2.2 brings with it additional NLP abilities; this time around, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Vietnamese have been added to the roster.

Messenger now also features a Customer Chat Plugin (which is in closed beta) that enables businesses to carry on conversations with customers in Messenger and on their website, with the ability to transition back and forth without losing the conversation’s history. This opens up new ways for consumers to start and maintain a dialog with a variety of brands.

Additionally, Facebook has implemented a Broadcast API. This new feature empowers organizations with the messaging subscription to blast out communications to a number of subscribers simultaneously. The API request can be refined to send out updates to only a select audience.

For instance, a brand could elect to send out a newsletter update to all of its subscribers. Alternatively, that same brand could shoot out a more specific update to only those who would find the information relevant.

While there are a few other updates to take note of here, you can check those out in Facebook’s Messenger 2.2 blog post.

There’s a lot of Messenger features and information here for business owners and advertisers to process. Dig into Facebook’s update posts to see all the features not mentioned here and how you can begin implementing these offerings to your audience.

What new features do you feel are currently missing from Facebook’s Messenger app?


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

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