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Over the last few days we’ve learned that Facebook will be making some major updates to Messenger.

24-Hour Policy

Currently, Messenger operates using the “24+1” rule which means that you can send pretty much any message inside a 24-hour window, this 24-hour window gets reset every time a user interacts with the Messenger bot. As well as sending any message within 24-hours of the last user interaction you can send 1 follow-up message after the initial 24-hour period is over, that’s the “+1” rule.

In the new changes Facebook is ditching the +1 rule. You’ll still be able to connect with your audience, send interactive and personalised follow-up messages all within a 24-hour window but the opportunity to connect with them [for free] after the 24-hour window as lapsed will be disappearing.

Subscription Messaging

Presently, subscription messaging allows pages to send messages for free that are classified as news, productivity, or personal tracking. A page that wants to utilise subscription messaging must go through a review to get page-level subscription permission. However, under the new changes Facebook will be scrapping subscription messages for all but a few verified news outlet pages.

Messaging Tags

Message tags are used by businesses to reach their audience after the 24-hour window is over. Right now, 17 messaging tags exist that cover many practical use cases such as shipping alerts and event reminders. Going forward, these tags will be reduced from 17 to just 4. Many will be consolidated whilst other will removed completely. This will likely have the biggest impact on Messenger marketing as so many businesses use tags liked ‘paired updates’ for non-promotional broadcasts to re-connect with your audience.

facebook messenger update

Broadcasts

Don’t fret, you can still send 1-to-1 messages to your audience using Sponsored Messages. Granular targeting will still available by creating custom audience groups within Facebook Ads, it might take a little muscle but it’s well worth it. Having something for free and now having to pay will sting but it’s still going to deliver a better ROI than most marketing channels out there. It’s worth noting the price per message sent will only increase as more people realise just how effective it can be. It also highlights, depending on your use case, the importance of collecting additional communication touch-points during the initial 24-hour window.

Final Thoughts

As marketers we have a rotten habit of grabbing hold of a shiny new marketing channel and burning it to the ground, just look at email and cold calling. Equally, companies such as Facebook have a shrewd approach to disguising a move to pay-to-play as a user experience enhancement. First and foremost, we need to avoid repeating the same mistakes we’ve seen with other marketing channels. These changes might not go far enough to eliminate shady messaging practices.

Chatbots might be the best thing to happen to marketing in a long time but only if we eliminate bad and disruptive bots, this is a start. Finally, businesses with clear objectives, a solid strategy and a great user experience will continue to thrive on Messenger.