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It’s no secret that Facebook has been taking strides to improve their business features and to continue to position the Messenger app as a “serious channel for business communication”. In fact, at the F8 2019, Zuckerberg notably kicked off his keynote speech saying, “If we would rebuild the Facebook platform today, we would focus it on messaging.” Fast-forward to September 2019 and we find that Zuckerberg has held true to his promise with various updates having been rolled out recently for the Messenger app. Perhaps the most notable of these is subscription messaging.
If you’re interested in learning more about the subscription messaging update, how you can apply for the service and remain compliant if accepted, as well as other various updates recently announced, then look no further than these next few lines.
Facebook is now offering what is considered to be an advanced messaging feature which allows business pages “to send non-promotional content on a recurring basis” via the Messenger application. This service essentially allows you to keep in contact with your customers on a recurring basis as long as the content you are sending is not considered to be promotional in nature. This means that as of July 31st, Facebook business pages which aren’t approved for subscription messaging are no longer able to send chat blasts to their customers unless they do so via the sponsored messages feature.
So, what exactly are sponsored messages?
They’re essentially ads.
That’s right – if you’re not approved for subscription messaging, your chat blasts are going to start costing you a pretty penny. How much, exactly? Sponsored messages will cost around $20.00 – $40.00 per 1,000 impressions. However, the platform recommends that businesses set their bids at $30.00 per 1,000 impressions.
The 24+1 Rule
Bear in mind that the 24+1 Rule for Facebook Messenger is still in full effect. For those of you who are unaware, the rule essentially allows businesses to send unlimited updates and messages to users who have opted in for messaging for the first 24 hours. These forms of communication may be either promotional or non-promotional in nature. However, after 24 hours, companies are no longer able to send unlimited promotional updates. Instead, they can only send unlimited non-promotional messages and just one single promotional follow up message.
Any promotional message must now be initiated through the sponsored messages feature for a fee and if you’re looking to send non-promotional subscription messages, you must receive approval first.
How do you initiate a request to be considered for subscription messaging?
Fortunately, there’s no fee associated with applying for the subscription messaging feature. In order to do this, companies must have a page administrator initiate a request for review. The downside is that while the application process is indeed short, the review process is tricky and many times it takes businesses several applications in order to obtain approval.
In order to initiate the process, you can start by clicking on the Settings tab on the top right corner of your Facebook page next to the “Help” icon. From there you will go to your Messenger Platform.
You then go to Advanced Messaging Features and click on Request within the Subscription Messaging box.
Once this is completed, you will be directed to the application. You will then be asked to describe how your page intends to use the subscription messaging feature. You have three options:
3) Personal Tracking
You also have the ability to provide them with additional details. An actual person will be reviewing your application, so it helps to personalize what you’re writing and to add as much detail as you can about the information, updates and services that your bot provides.
PRO TIP: We’ve found through our research that it’s rather difficult to get approved for productivity and personal tracking. As a result, if you choose the “News” option, be sure to provide examples in your application which are actually newsworthy in nature. That means if it sounds like a news site would pick up the story, then you’re good. If not, then don’t include it.
You will then be asked to provide examples of the blasts that you plan on sending to your customers via your chatbot.
PRO TIP: The most common cause for denials is for inappropriate descriptions and examples. Accounts are also often denied based on the 24-hour standard messaging window. The platform may find that based on the examples you’ve provided, your Messenger experience simply doesn’t need subscription.
Once you complete the application, the platform is then supposed to respond to your request within five business days. However, the truth of the matter is that according to various reports, this is not always the case. In fact, the five business day review period is turning out to be more of a rough estimate than anything else. Users interested in submitting requests should instead realistically expect a response time of a few weeks to a month.
It’s also worth mentioning that responses to requests are not made via email. Instead, users must head to the Page Settings > Messenger Platform > Advanced Messaging Features page and look for a green check mark next to the Subscription Messaging option in order to identify whether or not they’ve been approved.
How to remain compliant with the subscription messaging feature when approved
If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who gain approval for the subscription messaging feature, it’s important to keep in mind that there are usage guidelines with which you must comply. Failure to do so will result in your account being flagged.
First and foremost – the recipient of your message must have already opted in to subscription messaging. You absolutely cannot take advantage of this feature by using it to send content to individuals who have not opted in to subscription messaging from you.
Second – never send any promotional content to your users through the subscription messaging feature. The platform is pretty much giving you a hard “no” when it comes to this. Keep in mind Facebook uses machine learning to analyze content and as a result, even words such as “free” or including a link to your website can be considered promotional in nature and cause your account to be flagged.
Third – subscription messaging is only allowed for three very specific use cases. Any use outside of these three is considered a violation. They are as follows:
3) Personal Tracking
According to platform, news is considered content which informs individuals about “recent or important events” or provides them with “information in categories such as sports, finance, business, real estate weather, traffic, politics, government, non-profit organizations, religion, celebrities, and entertainment”.
Productivity on the other hand includes “integrations whose primary purpose is to enable people to manage their personal productivity with tasks such as managing calendar events, receiving reminders, and paying bills.”
Personal tracking is de fined as integrations which “enable people to receive and monitor information about themselves in categories such as fitness, health, wellness and finance”.
Fourth – If you find that a user responds to one of your subscription messages, the conversation is then considered standard messaging and as a result, it must “comply with standard messaging policies”.
What happens if you get denied for the subscription messaging feature?
If you submit your application and find that you’ve been denied, rest assured that you’re far from alone. As we mentioned earlier, the approval process can be quite tricky. There are pretty much two options you can take from this point:
1) Modify and resubmit your application for approval.
2) Try to obtain permission from your customers to contact them on a different channel such as SMS, email or phone.
If you plan on taking the first option and resubmitting your application, chances are there was an issue with the descriptions or examples you provided. Take a look at our PRO TIPs mentioned in the article to ensure that you’ve done your due diligence in providing the best descriptions and examples possible to ensure approval.
7 Additional Facebook Messenger Updates
While this article has primarily focused on the very newsworthy subscription messaging update, that’s not the only feature that’s been making waves in the Facebook community. Take a look at these seven updates which are rolling out this year as well so you can get one step ahead of the game when it comes to crafting your best Facebook Messenger strategy.
1. Messenger Desktop App
On the consumer end, Facebook is continuing to seek out ways in which they can further improve their user experience. One of the updates they noted they will be introducing to the public is a standalone desktop application for Messenger.
2. End-to-end Encryption
At F8 2019, Zuckerberg announced that the team will be prioritizing the transformation of Facebook into a “privacy-focused social platform”. To achieve this goal, Zuckerberg stated that the platform will be focusing on “six main principles” in order to make the platform more secure. Of the six principles mentioned, encryption was included as one of their priorities with the team seeking to expand end-to-end encryption across their apps including Messenger.
3. 24-Hour Response Window
Among the updates includes the implementation of a 24-hour response window for businesses on Facebook. This means that business accounts will now have one full day to respond to incoming messages from users. This change is being implemented as a way to “ensure fast responses and better service”.
4. Message Tags
The platform will also be implementing what are called “message tags” for business accounts. These tags enable businesses on Facebook to send personalized tags for “specific use cases”. These tags are se up to help enhance the customer experience even further by including features such as event reminders, post-purchase updates and more.
5. Automatic Lead Qualification
The platform is also taking steps to make lead generation more organized, simple and efficient for business users. Their automatic lead qualification process in messenger includes templates which are available in the Ads Manager and the ability to sync these with your company’s CRM tools.
6. Appointment Booking
There’s also a new interface within the Messenger app for booking appointments. These can now be done directly in chats and include real-time confirmation as well as the ability to integrate appointments with calendar software.
7. Conversion Tracking
Facebook will also be updating their conversion tracking features so that businesses are able to track certain events in Messenger which happen during a conversation.
Facebook Messenger is quickly being transformed into a serious channel for businesses and marketers alike to leverage in their efforts to attract more customers and engage with them in more effective and efficient ways than ever before. According to recent reports, Messenger alone has over 1.3 billion users who are sending a whopping 8 billion messages “between businesses and people” every month. Furthermore, one experiment by HubSpot found that content sent through Facebook Messenger had an astounding open rate of 80% as well as a click-through-rate of 13%. These rates are more than twice as high as those for email. So, the question begs to be asked – are you currently taking advantage of the opportunity?
What’s your opinion on the new updates rolling out this year? Do you plan on taking advantage of any of them? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!