Facebook Messenger update gives bot developers new tools
- Facebook released Messenger Platform 1.4 and the main upgrade is providing bot developers with a persistent menu to let users know how the bot functions, per a company blog post.
- The update also includes expanding social sharing capabilities like customized message content for sharing, sharing capabilities for webview and bot deep-links for custom message sharing.
- Additional new features include: Messenger profile API, API for Messenger codes, a payments pre-checkout event to let developers know when a user is checking out, new top-level analytics and an increased text limit from 320 to 640 characters.
Bots arrived on the scene last year with a lot of hype around their potential as a customer engagement tool for brands. While a number of marketers have developed bots, early feedback suggests the user experience is not meeting expectations so far. However, the AI-based technology is expected to quickly improve. For this reason, and the fact that messaging apps continue to evolve into more important platforms for consumers, marketers should be playing close attention to the space.
Messenger has been one of the more marketer-friendly messaging apps with its open API that allows brands to create bots for the app and an in-app payment capability that rolled out last fall. The latest version of Messenger Platform gives bot developers for the app more control over the user experience. The persistent menu is a nod to improved user experience giving brands a way to guide users through their bots. And the social sharing improvements help create engagement with branded bots as well as provide marketers more control over the messages to be shared.
The app is very successful with 900 million monthly users, and Facebook has been actively pressing to make the app friendly for business and make it something of a one-stop-shop for users with capabilities beyond messaging such as in-app payments. But the jury is still out on how brands will use Messenger. This week one of its first brand adopters, online retailer Everlane, abruptly stopped using the app for transactional notifications like order confirmation and shipping information although it still uses the app for customer service communication.