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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.

FACEBOOK

Best Practices for Designing Great Messaging Experiences on Messenger

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We recently reminded our community of the upcoming policy changes to the Messenger platform that will go into effect on March 4, 2020. These policy changes were designed to improve the messaging experience between people and businesses by driving timely and personally relevant conversations — prioritizing conversations started by people and related follow-up communications.

To help businesses best adapt to these new policy changes, here are some tips on the best practices to adopt when designing messenger experiences:

1. Respond quickly and set customer expectations on response times

People expect businesses to respond quickly and provide timely updates. We have found a strong correlation between responsiveness and successful business outcomes.>

2. Make it short and sweet

Make sure to communicate your key points succinctly and early on in your message. This aligns with people’s expectations for messaging as a channel and increases readability. Messages that are short and to the point can also be read clearly in message previews.

3. Leverage Messenger features to send high value messages outside the 24 hour standard messaging window

Successful businesses know the options available to send messages outside the standard messaging window and use them effectively.

  • Message tags – use tags to send personal, timely and important non-promotional messages. Businesses can use tags to send account updates, post purchase updates, confirmed event updates, and human agent responses.
  • One-Time Notification – allows a page to request a user to send one follow-up message after the 24-hour messaging window has ended. This can be used for cases such as back in stock alerts where a person has explicitly requested the business to send out a notification. Make sure that the message matches the topic the user agreed to receive the notification for and this message is fully communicated on the first attempt. You may also want to prompt people to interact with your notification in order to restart the standard messaging window.
  • Sponsored Messages – use sponsored messages for broadcast promotional updates to customers you’ve interacted with in Messenger. Sponsored messages support Facebook ads targeting and have built-in integrity controls to help us safeguard the user experience in Messenger.

4. Focus on customer value

Ensure your messages clearly communicate customer value – especially notifications sent outside the standard messaging window. Sending out low value messages makes it more likely that customers will tune out or block messages from your business altogether. Businesses using Messenger’s platform should consider adjusting push parameters for valuable messages that don’t require immediate action.

5. Provide audiences with options to choose from

Consider giving your audience additional control over the type of content they will receive via Messenger. For example, you may allow the user to select specific types of account alerts or post-purchase updates provided they comply with the Messenger platform policies.

We believe following these simple guidelines will help to ensure a businesses’ messaging efforts will be effective and drive outcomes, while providing customers with pleasant and valuable interaction experiences that encourage them to continue engaging with the business on Messenger.

Facebook Developers

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Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately

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We are excited to share that, as of today, WhatsApp supports more than 2 billion users around the world.

Mothers and fathers can reach their loved ones no matter where they are. Brothers and sisters can share moments that matter. Coworkers can collaborate, and businesses can grow by easily connecting with their customers.

Private conversations that once were only possible face-to-face can now take place across great distances through instant chats and video calling. There are so many significant and special moments that take place over WhatsApp and we are humbled and honored to reach this milestone.

We know that the more we connect, the more we have to protect. As we conduct more of our lives online, protecting our conversations is more important than ever.

That is why every private message sent using WhatsApp is secured with end-to-end encryption by default. Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals. Messages are only kept on your phone, and no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you.

Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe. For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy.

WhatsApp started with the goal of creating a service that is simple, reliable and private for people to use. Today we remain as committed as when we started, to help connect the world privately and to protect the personal communication of 2 billion users all over the world.

The post Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately appeared first on About Facebook.

Facebook Newsroom

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Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: Government forcing companies to protect you online

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Although many of the details have still to be confirmed, it’s likely the new rules will apply to Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Instagram

We often talk about the risks you might find online and whether social media companies need to do more to make sure you don’t come across inappropriate content.

Well, now media regulator Ofcom is getting new powers, to make sure companies protect both adults and children from harmful content online.

The media regulator makes sure everyone in media, including the BBC, is keeping to the rules.

Harmful content refers to things like violence, terrorism, cyber-bullying and child abuse.

The new rules will likely apply to Facebook – who also own Instagram and WhatsApp – Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, and will include things like comments, forums and video-sharing.

Platforms will need to ensure that illegal content is removed quickly, and may also have to “minimise the risks” of it appearing at all.

These plans have been talked about for a while now.

The idea of new rules to tackle ‘online harms’ was originally set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in May 2018.

The government has now decided to give Ofcom these new powers following research called the ‘Online Harms consultation’, carried out in the UK in 2019.

Plans allowing Ofcom to take control of social media were first spoken of in August last year.

The government will officially announce these new powers for Ofcom on Wednesday 12 February.

But we won’t know right away exactly what new rules will be introduced, or what will happen to tech or social media companies who break the new rules.

Children’s charity the NSPCC has welcomed the news. It says trusting companies to keep children safe online has failed.

“Too many times social media companies have said: ‘We don’t like the idea of children being abused on our sites, we’ll do something, leave it to us,'” said chief executive Peter Wanless.

“Thirteen self-regulatory attempts to keep children safe online have failed.

To enjoy the CBBC Newsround website at its best you will need to have JavaScript turned on.

Back in Feb 2018 YouTube said they were “very sorry” after Newsround found several videos not suitable for children on the YouTube Kids app

The UK government’s Digital Secretary, Baroness Nicky Morgan said: “There are many platforms who ideally would not have wanted regulation, but I think that’s changing.”

“I think they understand now that actually regulation is coming.”

In many countries, social media platforms are allowed to regulate themselves, as long as they stick to local laws on illegal material.

But some, including Germany and Australia, have introduced strict rules to force social media platforms do more to protect users online.

In Australia, social media companies have to pay big fines and bosses can even be sent to prison if they break the rules.

For more information and tips about staying safe online, go to BBC Own It, and find out how to make the internet a better place for all of us.

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