Has this every happened to you? Someone asks you to subscribe to their chatbot for Facebook messenger, maybe they even offer you some sort of incentive for signing up. They promise not to spam you but then before you know it — spam city.
Almost every day you’re sent a message asking you to buy something or check out some affiliate offer or buy something (did I already say buy something)?
Here’s the deal — having a chatbot for Facebook messenger is supposed to help you form a deeper relationship with your audience — not be a highway for persistent spam.
Facebook has always been really clear about how and when you can use a messenger chatbot to connect with its members:
- Subscription blasts can be sent out at any time but cannot contain any promotional content.
- Promotional content can be sent out to any one who has interacted with your chatbot in the last 24 hours.
- Follow-up content can be sent out once after the 24-hour window from the promotional content has passed.
But on July 31, 2019, your chatbot for Facebook messenger may be changing
Well, for one thing, subscription broadcasting, that ability to send out a blast to anyone on your entire list, will be changing in a big way.
A big way.
You see, far too many people have been sending promotional content out as subscription broadcasts.
And Facebook is finally cracking down on that.
In an announcement that has sent nearly every group I’m in into a tizzy, Facebook has revoked broadcast permissions from the chatbot apps and started requiring page owners to apply for permission individually.
So what did the apps do to get their permissions revoked?
I know for a fact that ManyChat did a phenomenal job in providing training materials, blog posts, and references about the subscription broadcast rule as well as the 24+1 rule. And I’m sure other chatbot builders did just as well. The problem isn’t the chatbot programs at all…
It’s other marketers.
Like the marketers who use engagement bait to get you to click a button just so they can send you spam. Or the ones who send near-constant promotional messages to you.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you’re using a chatbot as part of your marketing strategy, first and foremost, make sure you are following the rules.
Believe me, they are good rules:
- Don’t treat messenger like email. Email is for outreach, messenger is for connection.
- Don’t forget your subscribers are people. Not just leads. You treated them as special to get them to sign up — don’t treat them like anything less after they’ve signed up.
- Messenger is about conversations. Use your chatbot to open a conversation and invite your subscribers to have a dialogue with you.
- Subscription broadcasts cannot contain any promotional content.
- Promotional content can only be sent out to people who have engaged with your chatbot within the past 24 hours.
- After the 24 hour mark has passed, you can send one (1) followup message, which may or may not contain promotional content.
How Do You Get Approved to Send Subscription Messages?
To get approved for subscription broadcasts, first log into your Facebook account and head over to the business page with your chatbot attached:
Click on the Settings link at the top right above your page’s cover photo or video and find the option for Messenger Platform:
This is where you’ll find all the settings for your chatbot.
Scroll down until you see the Advanced Messaging Features. In that box, you’ll see a link where you can make your request for approval for subscription broadcasting:
When you’re ready, click the link to have Facebook popup the application for subscription broadcasting.
The actual application is a three-step process:
Choosing the right category for your subscription broadcasts (based on the type of broadcasts you send or will send):
At least two examples of broadcast messages that you have sent (or will send):
And accepting the Terms and Conditions and verifying that you will not use subscription broadcasting to send out promotional content.
Once you finish that and are happy with your answers, you can save the draft and then click to submit your answers for review.
The review process can take a while. With my chatbot, I heard back within a couple of hours, but some of my clients have said that it took close to 2-3 days before they heard anything back. And some had to apply multiple times before they finally got approved.
Once you do get approved, you’ll see a green checkmark next to Subscription Messaging:
Should you Apply for Subscription Messaging Access?
The answer to this is really going to depend on your strategy and your overall use of your chatbot for Facebook. If you regularly send out news, reminders, and updates, then yes: you will need to have that permission to send out broadcasts.
If, on the other hand, you send out promotional materials, then do not apply for subscription broadcasting.
Just don’t do it.
It’s not worth the risk of having your chatbot — or possibly your entire business page — taken down by Facebook because you sent out a promotional message as a subscription message by mistake.
And believe me, it can happen. I’ve seen plenty of authors send out a subscription broadcast inviting their subscribers to a release party and guess what…
A release party is promotional.
Sure, they can be fun and there are usually prizes and games. But at the end of the day, that author is trying to sell books. And that means it is a promotional message.
What Should You Do if You Want to Send Promotional Content?
Go back and think about what the point of Facebook messenger is: to hold a conversation. Conversations are a two way street.
So, if you want to be able to send out promotional content, you’ll have two options:
- Pay for sponsored messages (and expect a cost of about $0.02 per person — better make sure your list is nice and clean!)
- Stick with the 24+1 rule (and come up with a good strategy for keeping your audience engaging with your chatbot).
How Can you Keep Your Audience Engaged with Your Chatbot?
How did you get people to subscribe to your chatbot for Facebook in the first place?
Chances are, if you look back at some of those opt-ins, you’ll be able to develop a strategy for keeping your audience engaged with your chatbot:
- Did you send out a free guide for opting in? Make sure you also ask for an email so you can deliver that guide to their email address. You can then send an email with a link to your bot to re-engage your members that way.
- Speaking of free guides, try changing up the format of your free guide just a bit — instead of sending out one PDF file you can send out a series of interactive messages.
- Create an interactive quiz people can share.
- Set up a daily chatbot sequence with ManyChat (or any other builder) filled with tips, jokes, or inspirational messages to connect with your audience.
All in all, these changes to Messenger Marketing are a good thing
If you really think about it, the people or businesses who are going to get hurt by these changes are those who weren’t following the rules in the first place. By implementing these changes, Facebook will force those spammers to either start paying or go find a new venue.
Either way, the overall quality of messenger marketing will be cleaner, the messages will be more inline with what subscribers want, and you as a freelance writer will be free to be more creative with your chatbot strategy and using it to connect with your audience and start those two-way conversations.
Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts on messenger marketing you might like:
- If You Have a Chatbot for Facebook Messenger, Here’s What you Need to Know NOW
- How to Set Up a Daily Chatbot Sequence With ManyChat And Google Sheets
- How to Create an Interactive Quiz for your Chatbot using ManyChat
- How to Set Up a Random Chatbot Sequence for Giveaways in ManyChat
- Build an Engaging 5-Part Content Delivery Chatbot with ManyChat