Facebook Messenger policy update requires businesses to respond within 24-hours

At the beginning of March 2020, Facebook instituted new response time rules for businesses using Messenger. The policy changes coincided with record Messenger usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook Messenger

In August 2019, Facebook announced it would be rolling out policy updates to Messenger in March 2020, giving businesses adequate time to prepare for the changes. As part of the policy revisions, Facebook updated its standard messaging window to 24-hours, meaning companies would have to respond to customers within 24 hours of their Page receiving a message via the Messenger platform.

If a business hasn’t responded within 24 hours, Facebook will send an automated message on behalf of the Page. Facebook created four new Message tags that enable Pages to to send personalized 1:1 messages beyond the 24-hour window. These updates went into effect on March 4, 2020.

The new Message tag options for Messenger

Message tags best practice

Facebook’s Messenger updates aim to create a better customer experience. We have found a strong correlation between responsiveness and successful business outcomes, wrote Facebook in a best practices guide it published the week before instituting the new updates.

Business messages sent within the 24-hour window can include promotional content, but messages utilizing the Message tags sent outside of the 24-window cannot be promotional. Messaging offering deals, coupons, or discounts are not allowed. Promotional content beyond the 24-hour window is reserved for Sponsored Messaging (Messenger ads).

The new Message tags apply to four specific use cases:

  1. Post-purchase updates: These messages include confirmation of a transaction, notification of an order shipment or any changes related to an order.
  2. Event reminders: Businesses can use this tag to send reminders about an event a user has registered for, such as upcoming classes or an appointment reservation. It can also include status changes related to the event.
  3. Account updates: Any messages alerting a user to a non-recurring change to an application or their account with the business would be tagged as an Account Updates message, this would also include notification of suspicious activity or fraud alerts.
  4. Human agent: This tag allows human support (manual responses versus automated messages) for inquiries that cannot be resolved within the standard messaging window. It is currently in closed beta and, at launch, gave businesses a seven-day response window, but Facebook has extended that window to 21 days.

Facebook messaging up 50% since beginning of March 2020

Understanding these new policies are critical for any business that relies on Facebook Messenger to correspond with customers. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to shift how they do business, many SMBs are having to learn not only how to use these messaging tools, but get them up and running in record time. On March 24, 2020, the New York Times reported messaging on Facebook and Instagram was up more than 50% in many countries as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Facebook confirmed this spike in usage, reporting the jump had happened during March 2020, and that it was doing everything it could to keep its apps, Fast, stable and reliable.

For the millions of small businesses on Facebook that have had to completely change their business model – restaurants moving to curbside pick-ups and local shops that have had to become e-commerce stores – Messenger serves as a crucial business tool.

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Akvile DeFazio is the President of AKvertise, a social media advertising agency. She specializes in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter Ads. Follow @AkvileDeFazio