We are thrilled by the tremendous growth of people-to-business messaging on Messenger. Currently, there are over 40 million active businesses messaging people across the globe. Our developer community has grown to over 300,000 members, and people and businesses are exchanging over 20 billion messages each month.
We just announced the arrival of the lighter, faster version of Messenger. With this next iteration of Messenger, our goal is to keep the app size under 30 MB which will present an opportunity for developers to build new, streamlined solutions on our platform.
We’ve also built products to bridge the gap between online and offline, providing businesses unique functionality that leverages the power of Messenger. We are proud to introduce a new set of solutions aimed to make it easier for businesses to drive in-store traffic, generate leads and provide customer care. These are plug-and-play solutions that any business can put to use and developers can build upon.
1. Appointment Booking on Messenger
We recognize that appointment booking is a common way that people and businesses are already interacting on our platform, so we built a dedicated solution that can be integrated with a business’ calendaring system to provide people with the most up-to-date appointment availability. A new standard calendar interface makes it easier for people to select an available appointment and add it to their preferred calendar. A reminder keeps the appointments top of mind for people and also enables them to make changes or cancel directly in the conversation, allowing for real-time updates to the business’ calendar.
Appointment booking functionality is currently in Beta and will be available more broadly later this year. Sign up for Beta here.
2. Lead Generation and Qualification through Messenger
In the coming months, we’re going to make it even easier for advertisers to run lead generation campaigns in Messenger by adding a lead generation template directly into Ads Manager. Leads will be qualified via an automated question and answer flow within Messenger and people will be able to input their answers easily with quick reply buttons. There will be handoff functionality for seamless transitions from automation to a live agent. Natural drop-off can be curbed with customized reminders and submitted leads can be accessed via manual downloads, CRM integration, or Pages Inbox.
3. Easy Authentication
We will also be launching a new capability for m.me links — Authentication. This will allow businesses to direct customers who are already authenticated on a mobile app or website seamlessly into a Messenger thread and create an instantly personalized experience. Easy Authentication will complement the existing account linking platform feature and will help businesses handle common care issues such as billing inquiries, refunds, and more.
As you can see, big changes are coming your way this year. We’re excited to see how these changes help you connect businesses with their customers over Messenger in new ways. As always, we are here to support you and look forward to seeing what you build.
Best Practices for Designing Great Messaging Experiences on Messenger
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.
Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately
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.
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Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: Government forcing companies to protect you online
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.
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.