F8: Facebook Unveils Messenger Platform, Businesses on Messenger

By David Cohen Comment

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As previously speculated, Facebook announced at its F8 global developers conference in San Francisco Wednesday that its Messenger application has been opened up to third-party developers.

The social network worked with more than 40 developers on Messenger Platform prior to Wednesday’s launch, resulting in features for users including the ability to install Messenger Platform apps with one click of an install button on messages sent by friends via those apps, automatic switching to the appropriate Messenger Platform apps via the reply button and an expanded composers to aid users in their search for new apps.

On the business side, enhanced conversations between users and businesses are now enabled via the launch of Businesses on Messenger, and once orders for goods or services have been placed, the platform can be used for communications including modifying orders, tracking orders, returning merchandise and getting answers to questions.

Developers that worked with Facebook on Messenger Platform prior to Wednesday’s launch were:

Product manager Lexy Franklin offered more details about Messenger Platform in a post on the social network’s developer blog:

Messenger Platform enables developers to easily build apps that integrate with Messenger so that the more than 600 million people who use Messenger can find new, fun ways to express themselves with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more. With Messenger Platform, an app’s content can be shared through private and group messages to spark conversations that are creative and expressive, while providing developers with growth and reengagement opportunities.

Messenger Platform apps can display the option for a person to install the app from within Messenger, or to reply using content from the app. If the person receiving the message doesn’t already have an app installed, they can tap Install to be taken directly to the app store to get started using the app. This means people can discover apps recommended by their friends, naturally through their conversations.

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With Messenger Platform, developers may also see increased app engagement: If the person receiving the message already has the app installed, they’ll be able to tap reply on an image in a message. Then, instead of scrolling through pages of apps on their phone, they’ll be taken directly to the app to reengage and respond with relevant content.

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Some Messenger integrations will also have the opportunity to be featured directly in Messenger via a new tab in Messenger conversations. The tab provides shortcuts to apps people have already installed, as well as new apps they might be interested in trying.

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Starting today, Messenger Platform is open to all developers. We’re excited to have worked with more than 40 developers in advance of the launch.

Franklin also discussed Businesses on Messenger:

In addition to Messenger Platform, we’ve also announced and previewed the first steps we’re taking to bring businesses on Messenger with the goal of enhancing how people and businesses communicate. Businesses on Messenger enables things like the following: During the checkout flow on a business’ site, a person can choose to start a conversation with a business; receive updates from that business on things like order confirmations and shipping status updates; and ask the business free-form questions about the order, receiving quick responses.

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Our initial partners are two businesses in the retail vertical, Everlane and Zulily. We’re also working with Zendesk to support the live chat experience. These integrations will launch in the coming weeks. To learn more, please visit messenger.com/business.

Zendesk said in a release that its Zopim integration is being used to power the chat features in Businesses on Messenger, and senior vice president of product development Adrian McDermott added:

Messenger has changed the way people communicate with their friends, and now it’s opening new opportunities for businesses to interact with their customers. Consumers can communicate and engage with retailers within the messaging app they already use every day, on their own terms.

Readers: How do you think all of these changes will impact the user experience on Facebook’s Messenger apps?

Photo by Praneendra Kuver.

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