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UX Best Practices: Using Emojis, Stickers and Gifs with Bots for Messenger

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Emojis, GIFs and stickers are commonly used in person to person communication, though they have slightly different uses and meanings. Here’s what we know about the use of these forms of communication between people:
  • Of the three types, emojis are more serious/formal in the information they convey, followed by stickers and GIFs.
  • When compared to emojis, people typically send stickers and GIFs to close friends and family members
  • GIFs are considered “funny” and “expressive.” Compared to emojis and stickers, GIFs are more expressive and can express emotions more precisely.
  • A single emoji can be sent as a form of expression, but are also often sent as a sequence of emojis (e.g. 🎉🎉🎉 to emphasize the sentiment or 🙄😜😂 to express more complex emotions).
  • Manage User Expectations: Be direct about what your bot can / can’t do. If you don’t want to provide support for gifs, images, etc. the best thing to do is to be clear with users that your bot doesn’t understand these. You can be direct and formal (“I’m sorry, I don’t know how to interpret images, gifs and stickers.”) or, based on your bot’s personality, you can respond with something more in character (“Sorry, I don’t have eyes! I can’t see images or gifs you send me.” or “My creators didn’t give me the capability to understand gifs and images. Can you help me by typing your response instead?”).
  • Train by Example: Just like with all bot outputs, if a bot says something to a user, then the expectation is that the bot will also understand the thing that it said. If you use GIFs, emojis and stickers in your responses to users, they are more likely to send them back to your bot, so be sure and provide support for bi-directional conversation based on the components your bot uses in conversation.
  • Understand sentiment: If possible, try to understand the sentiment behind the emoji that you’re responding to. Understanding sentiment is much harder for stickers and GIFs, but because emojis were standardized by the Unicode Consortium in 2010 as part of Unicode 6.0, there are tools out there that you can leverage for emojis. EmojiNet will provide keywords and similar emojis to the one being searched for, or can also search emojis based on a particular sentiment. There are also some sentiment analysis packages out there that can be used. Here are just a few: Github list of emoji rated for valence in JSON, Emoji > Sentiment library from NPM, Github emoji analysis
  • Provide meaningful output: For the most common emojis, you can hard code responses directly if you can’t integrate sentiment analysis. At the bare minimum, it is important to try and respond to the most common emojis and stickers from users with meaningful outputs (i.e. have a response and make sure it’s not a variant of “I don’t understand”). One of the most commonly used emoji/sticker in Facebook Messenger is the thumbs up sticker. You can consider this an acknowledgement from the user, so consider experimenting with responding as you would if the user said “ok” or “thanks” to your bot by using the thumbs up instead. Here’s an article that provides a list of the most common emojis from users in 2017 for Messenger.
  • Be cautious about mismatches in the bot response with the user sentiment: Don’t respond to a negative emoji, sticker, etc. with a positive response. It makes the user feel like they’re not being heard when providing negative feedback and it loses credibility. Additionally, there are very few circumstances in which ignoring user input is a good idea, so try not to ignore these inputs just because they’re different. Example of an interaction to avoid:

There are some significant advantages to using emojis, GIFs and stickers in your responses. It can be a great way to incorporate a bot personality that embodies your brand. It can also make the conversation more lighthearted, or more casual, which might be appropriate in some contexts. For example, recent research shows that adding emojis to engage users might work out well, but asking them questions about their physical activity might be better received without the use of emojis. However, if used, keep in mind that emojis do not look the same on every platform and they might have ambiguous meanings to users based on their cultural background and language.

Emojis come as text messages to your callback. Here are a couple of examples:

{ 
“sender”: { 
“id”: “<PSID>” 
},
“recipient”: { 
“id”: “<PAGE_ID>”
},
“timestamp”: 1458692752478,
“message”: { 
“mid”:”1B_UBJYvePYnQAOMIZLZJLC5640S_K72IRsYiZ2aIIz
FcDlDnKZPOllmCesLRzO_2YvwnX0VE2iVctjh-OmXVg”,
“seq”: 59333,
“text”: “:)”
} 
}{ 
"sender": { 
"id": "<PSID>" 
},
"recipient": { 
"id": "<PAGE_ID>"
},
"timestamp": 1544141335159,
"message": { 
"mid":"zFYmb2mX3vOeZzo62ZnRCbC5640S_K72IRsYiZ2aIIyvZGGRoG
RRevhV3qZwjiCA9z82sNv2ri-slKgIqLshFw",
"seq": 59382,
"text": "🙂"
} 
}

In both of the above cases, the user sees the same message sent to your bot, as Messenger will convert 🙂 to 🙂 for the user on screen. But because in one case the user typed “:)” and in another they selected the emoji from the emoji menu, your callback will receive slightly different input. Keep this in mind as you’re implementing your solution, so that your bot’s behavior is consistent across these two inputs, which are considered identical by users.

Images and GIFs have the exact same structure in the callback message your webhook receives. The developer documentation has a good example here.

Stickers have a slightly different format in the callback message. Here is an example of the thumbs up sticker that can be found on the bottom right corner of the Messenger user input bar.

{ 
"sender": { 
"id": "<PSID>" 
},
"recipient": { 
"id": "<PAGE_ID>"
},
"timestamp": 1544141768928,
"message": { 
"mid":"ZElljPP9ttpinKrBWi_9F7C5640S_K72IRsYiZ2aI
IxCiWwEDgmwqsDfPnRJeEaCT9YDHbK7rLtEJlJjvq0DWg",
"seq": 59406,
"sticker_id": 369239263222822,
"attachments": [ 
{
"type": "image",
"payload": {
"url": "https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.1997- 6/39178562_1505197616293642_5411344281094848512_n.png?_nc_cat=1&_nc_log=1&_nc_oc=AWOixYXgN71O7TwlRODnEhedCoenAU8uS2YslmfhKRJlZxcSTLO_tXRQfH1lGtJtymQ37EKdtAY0XQ&_nc_ad=z-m&_nc_cid=0&_nc_ht=scontent.xx&oh=6156b594b1791351766973d936bebff1&oe=5C684675",
"sticker_id": 369239263222822
} 
} 
] 
}
}

In the example above, each sticker has a unique sticker_id. However, there’s no description of what the sticker means, or any way to look it up. The attachment is similar to the ones for images and GIFs and will give you the URL of the sticker, but will also contain the sticker_id again. During your design phase, you can choose not to support stickers at all (since they’re easily identifiable), or alternately you could choose to only support the most common stickers that users might send, and store your own mapping between the sticker and the sticker_id by trying the stickers out in your bot.

Developing a bot that handles emojis, GIFs, and stickers can be challenging, but when development is done and the bot is live, the experience between your bot <> audience can become colorful and imaginative. Have fun experimenting with different responses. Take the time to understand your audience and the way they want and love to interact. By using that information to build out your bot in a unique way, you will quickly find a recipe for success.

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How Our Focus on Privacy Impacts Developers

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Today, we’re sharing some of the changes we’ve made to our privacy program over the past year and examples of the new ways we’re operating to ensure we protect people’s privacy. At Facebook we are committed to building a safer, more sustainable platform to strengthen trust with people and continue to drive long-term value for our developers. Simply put, protecting the privacy of the people who use our products is a responsibility we share with all developers on our platform.

We’ve made changes to put privacy at the core of everything we do. The new Platform Terms and Developer Policies are a starting point to ensure businesses and developers clearly understand their responsibility to safeguard data and respect people’s privacy when using our platform and tools.

We’ve also continued to refine and streamline our App Review process which will ensure consistency for all developers. This includes changes that help developers build business solutions and tools as well as have additional control over the data permissions they request and the ability to remove them when no longer needed.

Finally, we introduced Data Use Checkup, a new annual workflow to drive accountability for all Facebook platform developers. With Data Use Checkup, developers are required to review the permissions they have access to and commit that their API access and data use comply with the Facebook Platform Terms and Developer Policies in order to keep their API access.

In addition to simplifying and clarifying developer responsibilities, we’re also proactively taking action against companies and individuals who abuse our platform. Earlier this month, we filed a lawsuit against two companies that used scraping to engage in an international data harvesting operation, and a few weeks ago we took action against two companies operating fake engagement services.

These improvements are intended to help create a better privacy foundation for developers and we encourage all developers to build experiences using a privacy-first approach, with principles such as data minimization as their guide.

As a reminder, developers will be required to complete Data Use Checkup within the next several months in order to maintain API access. If you have yet to go through Data Use Checkup, you’ll be receiving a Developer Alert triggering an email to your app’s administrators and notification in your App Dashboard, notifying you to complete the process.

To prepare for the process, make sure you’ve updated contact details and app administrator designation for each app within your organization. You can also learn more on the new Platform Initiatives Hub.

We know user privacy is just as important to our developer community as it is to us. Thank you for continuing to partner with us as we build a safer, more sustainable platform.

Facebook Developers

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Preparing for Apple’s App Store Data Disclosure Requirements

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To support our developer and advertising partners with the upcoming iOS 14 App Store data disclosure requirements, we have consolidated previously released public information that explains Facebook’s data collection practices for the Facebook SDK to make it easier for you as you fill out the App Store Connect questionnaire when it’s released.

Facebook SDK

To provide functionality within the Facebook SDK, we may receive and process certain contact, location, identifier, and device information associated with Facebook users and their use of your application. The information we receive depends on what SDK features 3rd party applications use and we have structured the document below according to these features.

App Ads, Facebook Analytics, & App Events

Facebook App Events allow you to measure the performance of your app using Facebook Analytics, measure conversions associated with Facebook ads, and build audiences to acquire new users as well as re-engage existing users. There are a number of different ways your app can use app events to keep track of when people take specific actions such as installing your app or completing a purchase.

With Facebook SDK, there are app events that are automatically logged (app installs, app launches, and in-app purchases) and collected for Facebook Analytics unless you disable automatic event logging. Developers determine what events to send to Facebook from a list of standard events, or via a custom event.

When developers send Facebook custom events, these events could include data types outside of standard events. Developers control sending these events to Facebook either directly via application code or in Events Manager for codeless app events. Developers can review their code and Events Manager to determine which data types they are sending to Facebook. It’s the developer’s responsibility to ensure this is reflected in their application’s privacy policy.

Advanced Matching

Developers may also send us additional user contact information in code, or via the Events Manager. Advanced matching functionality may use the following data, if sent:

  • email address, name, phone number, physical address (city, state or province, zip or postal code and country), gender, and date of birth.

Facebook Login

There are two scenarios for applications that use Facebook Login via the Facebook SDK: Authenticated Sign Up or Sign In, and User Data Access via Permissions. For authentication, a unique, app-specific identifier tied to a user’s Facebook Account enables the user to sign in to your app. For Data Access, a user must explicitly grant your app permission to access data.

Note: Since Facebook Login is part of the Facebook SDK, we may collect other information referenced here when you use Facebook Login, depending on your settings.

Device Information

We may also receive and process the following information if your app is integrated with the Facebook SDK:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, CPU core, storage size, SDK version, OS and app versions, and app package name; and
  • Networking information, such as the name of the mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, and IP address.

Audience Network SDK

We may receive and process the following information when you use the Audience Network SDK to integrate Audience Network ads in your app:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, operating system, mediation platform and SDK versions; and
  • Ad performance information, such as impressions, clicks, placement, and viewability.

Facebook Developers

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Messenger API to support Instagram

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Today, we are announcing updates to the Messenger API to support Instagram messaging, giving businesses new tools to manage their customer communications on Instagram at scale. The new API features enable businesses to integrate Instagram messaging with their preferred business applications and workflows; helping drive more meaningful conversations, increase customer satisfaction and grow sales. The updated API is currently in beta with a limited number of developer partners and businesses.

Instagram is a place for emerging culture and trend creation and discovering new brands is a valuable part of this experience. Messaging plays a central role in helping people connect with brands in personal ways through story replies, direct messages, and mentions. Over the last year, total daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram grew over 40 percent. For businesses, the opportunity to drive sales and improve customer satisfaction by having meaningful interactions with people on Instagram messaging is huge.

Instagram is a platform for community building, and we’ve long approached it as a way for us to connect with our customers in a place where they are already spending a lot of their time. With the newly launched Messenger API support for Instagram, we are now able to increase efficiency, drive even stronger user engagement, and easily maintain a two-way dialogue with our followers. This technology has helped us create a new pipeline for best-in-class service and allows for a direct line of communication that’s fast and easy for both customers and our internal team.” – Michael Kors Marketing

Works with your tools and workflows

Businesses want to use a single platform to respond to messages on multiple channels. The Messenger API now allows businesses to manage messages initiated by people throughout their Instagram presence, including Profile, Shops, and Stories. It will be possible for businesses to use information from core business systems right alongside Instagram messaging, enabling more personal conversations that drive better business outcomes. For example, businesses integrating with a CRM system can give agents a holistic view of customer loyalty. Furthermore, existing investments in people, tools, and workflows to manage other communication channels can be leveraged and extended to support customers on Instagram. This update will also bring Facebook Shops messaging features to the Messenger API so businesses can create more engaging and connected customer experiences.

To get started, businesses can easily work with developers to integrate Instagram messaging with their existing tools and systems.

Increases responsiveness and customer satisfaction

Customers value responsiveness when they have questions or need help from businesses. For the first time on Instagram, we’re introducing new features that will allow businesses to respond immediately to common inquiries using automation, while ensuring people are seamlessly connected to live support for more complex inquiries. One of our alpha partners, Clarabridge, reported their client brands had improved their response rate by up to 55% since being able to manage Instagram DMs through their platform.

The updates to the Messenger API are part of our overall effort to make it easier for businesses to reach their customers across our family of apps.

Messenger API support for Instagram is currently in beta with a focus on providing high quality, personalized messaging experiences on Instagram while increasing business efficiency. Adidas, Amaro, Glossier, H&M, MagazineLuiza, Michael Kors, Nars, Sephora and TechStyle Fashion Group and other consumer brands are already participating in the beta program. We are excited about early results some businesses saw during alpha testing, including higher response rates, reduced resolution times, and deeper customer insights as a result of integrations. We’re also testing with a limited number of developer partners; and are delighted at the initial response.

On average, brands have saved at least four hours per agent per week by streamlining social community management within the Khoros platform, plus shortened response rates during business hours — which is crucial to meet as customers who message brands on social media expect a quick reply.” – Khoros

If you are a business interested in utilizing the API post-beta, please sign up for our business waitlist. If you are a developer, please sign up for our developer waitlist.

Facebook Developers

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