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DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE OF MESSENGER BROADCAST RULES

Messenger Broadcast rules are changing…or are they? Let’s go down the rabbit hole into the wonderland of Messenger Policy and Rules to discover the facts about the Broadcast api change.

The rules to broadcast should not come as any surprise to people. The rules have not really changed other than the way we apply to use chatbots in a very specific way, subscription messaging. Now before you go off on how BIG OF A DEAL the new API changes are and how your WHOLE WORLD is crashing down, let me back up and explain the way it has ALWAYS been when it comes to subscription messaging.

In order to send a subscription message you must fall into the following 3 categories:

News, Productivity, & Personal trackers.

According to the Messenger Platform Policy, the following are the explanation of each use case:

News: Integrations whose primary purpose is to inform people about recent or important events, or provide information in categories such as sports, finance, business, real estate, weather, traffic, politics, government, non-profit organizations, religion, celebrities, and entertainment.

Productivity: 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 trackers: Integrations that enable people to receive and monitor information about themselves in categories such as fitness, health, wellness, and finance.

The thing is, many, if not most, marketers using chatbots to send messages are doing it wrong. They either think they fall under the “News” category with their blog/podcast/restaurant specials etc when they don’t, or they simply do not care and will operate in the gray. It is really not their fault. Facebook has never been SUPER clear about this, but the rules are there. The policy is laid out. But still, marketers are wrongly classifying their messages when they send them out. The problem with all this is Facebook has taken note. Marketers are over saturating the platform with their spammy or overly promotional messages and Facebook is not a fan. Now before you refer to the usual “Facebook just wants to make money” please take this into consideration: If we all continue to abuse the platform for our own gain and the end users become increasingly annoyed, they will simply stop using the platform. A decline in Messenger active users is pretty much the exact opposite of what Facebook wants for a platform they consider to be the foundation of all the Facebook ecosystem. And honestly, marketers should also be concerned if this happens. If we want to see the longevity of this fantastic platform we need to protect the integrity of it.

So what IS the change that everyone is talking about?

Facebook basically wants a better way to enforce the existing rules in respects to Subscription Messaging. It is far easier to track who is abusing the platform AND they can have more control over who can even use the subscription messaging tag if they bring it from the app level (ManyChat, Chatfuel, MobileMonkey, etc) to the page level. When the api for broadcasts are changed so that you have to submit to the page level, Facebook can see if you are doing what you said you would do, when you applied to use the tag.

Wondering if your content would fall under promotional, marketing or non-promotional (news etc)? I see people ask this question a LOT in the ManyChat group “Does my message about XYZ count as non-promotional”. Most people would say “if you have to ask, it’s probably is promotional.” I say, don’t question it, just ask Facebook. When you apply for subscription messaging do so with the type of content you think SHOULD be approved. The type of content you would normally send under the Subscription Messaging tag. If you get approved, then Facebook thinks it is acceptable. If it does not get approved then your content simply does not fall under that tag. It may or may not be promotional, but it does not belong in a Subscription Message. If you do get approved for subscription messaging for a type of content, be sure that is the type of content you are going to be sending out when you use the Subscription Messaging tag. Don’t try to game the system. You must act “in good faith” and not try to trick Facebook…Unless you like getting your page shut down?

So what do you do if you do not get approved or if you are approved but have a message that does not fall under the Subscription Messaging tag (NON_PROMOTIONAL_SUBSCRIPTION)? You have a couple of options. Facebook provides you with 17 tags you can choose from to send a message outside of the 24+1 rule (more on that in a minute). You can read about the details in each tag HERE but I’ll go ahead and list them here for quick reference:

BUSINESS_PRODUCTIVITY

COMMUNITY_ALERT

CONFIRMED_EVENT_REMINDER

NON_PROMOTIONAL_SUBSCRIPTION (this is what we have been talking about)

PAIRING_UPDATE

APPLICATION_UPDATE

ACCOUNT_UPDATE

PAYMENT_UPDATE

PERSONAL_FINANCE_UPDATE

SHIPPING_UPDATE

RESERVATION_UPDATE

ISSUE_RESOLUTION

APPOINTMENT_UPDATE

GAME_EVENT

TRANSPORTATION_UPDATE

FEATURE_FUNCTIONALITY_UPDATE

TICKET_UPDATE

Smart chatbot building tools like ManyChat, plan to integrate the tags into the platform so builders can properly categorize their messages. As you can see from the list above, there is a lot of use cases. But many of these are transactional in nature, and not really suited for marketing. So what are your options? Well, there is another tag. Sponsored_message_ads aka Sponsored Messages. This is when you pay to send messages to anyone who has ever sent a message to your page. Please take note, I did not say pay to send a message to your subscribers.

“Sponsored messaging is a form of paid advertisement sent via the Facebook Marketing API, which allows you to re-engage people who have previously started conversations with you in Messenger and who have not blocked your bot.”

So if you plan on doing a sponsored message, take care with your targeting and custom audiences. You may not want to send messages to people who have previously unsubscribed from your chatbot. As it is, if you plan on utilizing the sponsored messages feature prices are hovering around $24 per 1000 messages depending on your location.

But before you go the direction of sponsored_message_ads (paid messages), have you considered the 24 + 1 rule?

24 + 1

The 24 + 1 rule states that

Businesses and developers using the Send API have up to 24 hours to respond to a message sent by a person in Messenger when using standard messaging. A bot may also send one additional message after the 24-hour time limit has expired. The 24-hour limit is refreshed each time a person responds to a business through one of the eligible actions listed in Messenger Conversation Entry Points. This is commonly referred to as the ’24 + 1 policy’.

In other words, you have 24 hours to send messages to someone under standard messaging that has interacted with your chatbot via one of the APPROVED entry points:

  • Person sends a message to a business.
  • Person starts a conversation with the business via a call-to-action button within a Messenger conversation, such as a share attribution.
  • Person starts a conversation with a business via a plugin, such as the Send to Messenger plugin, checkbox plugin, etc.
  • Person starts a conversation with a business via an ad with an app_destination set to MESSENGER.
  • Business uses the Customer Matching API to match an existing customer via phone number and name to a person on Messenger. The bot must have the pages_messaging_phone_number permission to begin a conversation in this way.

Once the 24 hours are gone, you can send 1 additional message (per the +1). You can send this +1 message at any point. There is no time limit as long as the end user has not unsubscribed or blocked your chatbot. If you are a ManyChat user these options are actually already available to your under broadcasts.

Current Broadcast dashboard options in ManyChat — May 2019

When you are sending broadcast out right now you should already be abiding by these rules. The problem is the Subscription Messaging has been at the app level so it has been easy to not follow the rules. It is easy for marketers to send these messages regardless of if their messages fall under News, Productivity and Personal Trackers. Now, Facebook is simply enforcing existing rules by forcing the user to apply for subscription messaging as the page to prove that their content is eligible. If it is not eligible you should be sending under a different tag. It is that simple.

So the conclusion is, the rules are not changing. Facebook is simply enforcing the old rules and making it easier to do so by making bot builders apply at the page level to use this particular tag. A chatbot builder’s best defense is education about the various tags and learning how your messages fall under those tags. Abide by the rules. Stay out of the gray and stay in Facebook’s good graces and you should be fine.

Postscript:

I understand that this stuff can be complicated. I had to go down MANY rabbit holes in order to write this blog. I have read the TOS, Policies and participated in many discussions over a LOOOOONG time bot recently and over the past year or two, to know that this is really not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. It is ONLY a big deal if you didn’t know better. Now you know. Now you can operate your chatbots correctly. You will be fine. If you want to dive even deeper or need help navigating this crazy world of Chatbots be sure to come join my free Facebook community: Baby Got Bot or go check out my videos on YouTube where I teach Chatbot tutorials and strategy.