Facebook Eases Business-Customer Chats in Messenger

Facebook recently announced the global rollout of its new lead generation feature for Messenger. The feature is designed to allow businesses to set up an automated question experience to engage with potential customers.

Facebook has a style of ads that enables users to click to the Messenger service to open a conversation between the user and the advertiser. Here’s an example of what this looks like:

With the new feature, a set of questions will appear as a pre-filled form or free-form text:

Businesses can integrate this with their own Customer Relationship Management or CRM provider and continue the conversation with qualified leads through Facebook’s Pages Inbox feature, its Pages Manager app, or via a third-party live chat provider.

If the user doesn’t interact with the questions initially, Facebook sends a “timely” reminder, giving them another opportunity to respond.

“Businesses engaging with potential leads in their preferred channel are seeing results and finding it easy to continue the conversation and seamlessly nurture leads in Messenger,” the company said in a blog post, later adding, “With over 61% of people surveyed across the US, UK, Brazil and India agreeing that messaging is the easiest, most convenient way to contact a business, there’s never been a better time for businesses to connect. Lead generation in Messenger allows businesses and people to chat in their preferred channel, on their own time, and in their own voice.”

In addition to the automated chat feature for businesses, Facebook made a few more Messenger-related announcements to go into effect in January. For starters, the company is updating its Standard Messaging window to 24 hours, citing research showing that people expect businesses to respond quickly to messages, and that businesses can achieve better outcomes when they respond in a timely fashion. Beyond 24 hours, the company says, businesses will be able to utilize message tags and sponsored messages to reach customers. Message tags enable businesses not to send promotional content, but to send reminders about events the user has registered for, purchase updates, or application or account changes.

“Over the last three years, Messenger has seen brands of all sizes grow their business on our platform,” Facebook said. “We remain committed to building experiences and delivering innovative solutions in the future that provide value to people and businesses.”

Facebook also announced that it will be limiting access to its Subscription Messaging service to vetted news organizations. This feature has been in beta, and after finding that some businesses were using the feature in violation of its policy, it has decided to make it available to less of them. Going forward, only news organizations who have successfully registered their Pages through the Facebook News Page index will be able to apply to be part of the beta. Finally, Facebook said it will begin phasing out the Discover tab in Messenger over the coming months. It sees this as an effort to simplify the Messenger experience for users. For businesses worried that this will limit their ability to be found by users, Facebook says they’ll be able to be found via the search feature and advertising spots.

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