On December 16, 2020, Facebook announced restrictions that would affect its online chatbots. These strict measures would take place on Messenger's Application Programming Interface (API). The changes came about to adhere to the European Union’s privacy policies. Ultimately, the adjustments affected the popular messaging platform ManyChat. In the next few paragraphs, we discuss:
- • Who the restrictions affect
- • Some of the changes stipulated therein
- • Recommendations that will help you adapt to the adjustments going forward
It is important to understand these limitations. If you use a Facebook chatbot, read on to learn how the restrictions will impact your business.
Who Do the Restrictions Affect?
Facebook Messenger has become a reliable marketing tool for many businesses. Brands are able to gain subscribers and send out marketing messages through their Facebook chatbots. It follows that many organizations, especially chatbot messaging services such as ManyChat, have been impacted by the restrictions.
The restrictions will involve all the countries that make up the EU. Additionally, Norway, the United Kingdom, Liechtenstein and Iceland must comply with these restrictions. The effects of the restrictions are not limited to only these countries, however. If you run a Facebook chatbot but reside outside the EEA, you may wish to confirm that your operations are proceeding normally.
In all, the changes will affect:
- • Any Facebook profile based within the EU and EEA
- • All pages on Facebook with admins based in the EU and EEA
- • Subscribers on your list that are in these locations, even if your brand’s site is based outside the EU or EEA
Subscribers Within the EEA
ManyChat helps you communicate with your subscribers using Facebook Messenger. If your subscribers are in the EEA, your communication will be affected. For example, suppose 50% of your subscribers are in the United States, and the other half are in Germany. Users in Germany will be affected, according to ManyChat. Your communication with subscribers outside of this area will not change.
Facebook Pages for Brands in the EEA
Do you run a Facebook page from the EEA? If so, you will notice changes in the way the page works, as well as in user interactions. Note that Facebook is able to determine your location, regardless of the location you have listed on your page. Users who try to change their location to counter these changes risk serious consequences.
Admins Based in Europe
Administrative pages matter, too. For instance, let's say you're located within the United States. One hundred percent of your subscribers are located in the USA, but you have one Facebook admin located in Germany. With these restrictions, your entire page will be affected.
It is too late to make any changes to your Facebook page’s administration since the restrictions are already in play. The admin's location is dependent on the location indicated in their profiles.
What Are the New Restrictions?
Brands should acquaint themselves with these changes. Here, we highlight some details of the new restrictions.
Audience-Specific Customized Adverts
Prior to these changes, admins were able to create customized audiences through the Ads manager feature on Facebook. Admins could target ads to people who interacted with them through Messenger. The new restrictions prohibit admins from creating these custom audiences.
One-Time Notifications (OTNs)
Messenger’s One-Time Notification API allows a page to request a user to send one follow-up message after the 24-hours messaging window has ended. The user would be asked to receive a future notification. Then, the page would receive a token, which is essentially permission to send a single message to the user. The token could only be used once, and would expire after one year.
This feature is no longer functional in the EEA. Sending out or receiving messages through One-Time Notifications (OTNs) will not be possible.
Warnings or Blocked Notifications
Before the regulations, warnings and notifications could be sent through to the ManyChat platform. However, after the changes, these notifications will be sent directly to your inbox. Clients using the ManyChat chatbot strategy will not receive these warnings through the chatbots.
Live Chat Profile Visibility
ManyChat offers a Live Chat feature that allows brands to communicate in real-time with users. Through this feature, subscribers are able to see the profile details of the agent they’re speaking with.
The new changes have affected this feature. Users will not be able to see any profile details moving forward. The agent's name and profile picture will not be visible to other parties. Subscribers will only be able to view the brand name and the agent’s business profile during chats.
ManyChat has created customizable plugins that make it easier for users to access your Messenger chat. These plugins can be found in the tools sections of ManyChat Messenger chatbots.
ManyChat has the following plugins:
- • Send to Messenger
- • Checkbox
Unfortunately, these two handy growth tools are no longer available in the EEA. If you had installed this plugin before, you should remove it or find an alternative that meets the regulations.
The hamburger menu on Messenger automatically pops up when users click on it. The menu appears as three buttons next to the chat window. On ManyChat, the menu appears as three lines at the very end of the chat window. This menu is also referred to as the persistent menu.
This menu is no longer available due to the restrictions.
Media Sharing and Receipts
Trying to send media files to users? Perhaps you’ve noticed that this fails every time. The EEA has limited the ability to share any form of media with subscribers. Some of the restricted media includes:
- • Audio
- • Media
- • Downloadable files
This restriction also affects your users. They are able to send the above types of media, but you might not receive it on your end. However, both you and the subscribers will be able to share images freely. You can also send a link to another page with the desired media.
Previously, users could see the “typing” bubble in the chat. This typing indicator would appear when:
- • A live agent was typing responses
- • A chatbot was responding. This feature implied that the bot was typing, even though it was generating an automated response
Under the new restrictions, this typing indicator is no longer possible.
Message Deliveries and First Name Use
Addressing someone by their first name is personable and warm. Many brands choose to use their customers first names in their chatbot strategy. Unfortunately, the new restrictions prohibit the use of first names in chat conversations.
The Chat Agency recommends, "If you are using the first name in any of your flows, please replace it with something like 'Hi There' or 'Hey.’ While having the first name did offer a way of personalizing the conversations, ultimately this should not have a huge impact.”
Complying with Facebook Messenger Policy in 2021
Now that you know what the changes are, here are some steps you can take to ensure your online chatbots comply with them.
1. Understand the Restrictions
Take time to read through the new Facebook and Messenger policies and regulations. Learn what affects your page, but don’t rush to make adjustments to your campaign before you are certain of the measures. For example, if your users and admins are all outside the EEA region, these restrictions don't apply to you.
2. Remove EEA Admins
If your page is outside the EEA scope, but your admins live in that region, it would be wise to remove them now. This will avoid complications with the EEA. First, remove them from your page and then remove them from the admin's list on the page settings. You can use bots for the empty role, or hire an admin outside the EEA.
3. Set Up Quick Reply
Set up the Quick Reply feature as an alternative to the persistent or default menus. You have two options: respond to messages one-by-one, or use the Quick Reply feature on the Flow buttons. Based on the customers’ responses, you can customize the messages afterward.
4. Segment Your Subscribers Based on Location
You can condition the chatbot to ask a user's location. Note that you will have to create separate Flows for parties in different locations.
5. Check for Warning Notifications
Regularly check your Facebook settings panel for any warnings or blocks. If you are using ManyChat bots, you will not be able to receive these notifications. However, Facebook will send them to your inbox and highlight them on the settings panel.
6. Optimize Your Welcome Message
Welcome messages are the first introduction to your brand users experience. Customize this message to capture your users’ excitement. Direct your potential customers to what your business entails in detail. If you send out referral links through email, make sure they direct to your Messenger automatically.
7. Opt for Emails and SMS
Are having a hard time navigating the new regulations? If so, remember that there are other communication channels available. ManyChat’s services cover email and SMS communication, so you can diversify your customer interactions. Ensure you acquire your customers’ email addresses.
8. Consider Keyword Automation
Alternatively, consider using automated keywords in your chats. When a customer types a keyword, they will trigger an automated message from your bot. This is an incredible alternative to the menu display.
9. Review Your Default Reply
A default reply is the response an online chatbot gives when it doesn’t understand a customer’s input. It’s a good idea to review your default reply under the new restrictions. Ensure your reply leads customers to the right destination.
10. Drive Traffic to Your Facebook Page
Most of the restrictions affect ManyChat Messenger chatbots. However, the limitations won’t affect your Facebook page as a whole. Instead of directing users to your inbox, consider directing them to your Facebook page. This will help grow your following on Facebook.
11. Provide Your Information in Live Chats
If a live agent is responding to your subscribers in a Live Chat, ensure that they introduce themselves first. They can mention their name and the brand they work for. Remember, the profile name and the accompanying picture are not visible.
Hiring Marketing Compliance Experts
In some cases, you may wish to hire regulatory experts to adapt to new restrictions. Here’s what to look for when hiring a marketing compliance team. A solid team should be able to:
- • Work with the marketing team to ensure compliance with all regulations
- • Revisit the stipulated procedures to mitigate possible risks
- • Create the company's efficiency tools, based on in-house assessments
- • Ensure that the marketing department adheres to the company's internal policies
- • Work with other teams to ensure that the marketing department follows each regulation
- • Carry out assessments and conduct research on risks arising from the policies
- • Stay up to date with any regulatory changes
- • Keep detailed reports for management or external bodies
Compliant Conversations: Understanding the EEA Restrictions
The EEA has laid out regulations that have affected ManyChat Messenger chatbots. These changes especially impact brands located in the EEA region. It's vital that brands take time to learn the new policies to understand how they will affect their campaigns.
Despite these changes, The Chat Agency has incorporated improvements and new features to deliver its chatbot strategy and rank maintenance services. To find more information or to request a free quote, please visit the company’s official website.