Here Are the New Features Available to Facebook Messenger Chat Bot Developers

Highlights include a new menu structure and more social sharing functionality

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Facebook introduced several new features for Messenger chat bots in Messenger Platform 1.4, released last week, including a menu of features offered by bots, more social sharing functionality and improvements to its customer matching feature.

Abby He, who works on Messenger Platform engineering for the social network, outlined the updates in a blog post, saying of the new menu structure:

The persistent menu now allows for multiple, nested items to be built in, giving people a way to find and select from all of the features that a bot offers. Developers also have the option to hide the composer and create a simple Messenger experience without conversational capabilities. Users can use these nested items within the persistent menu to drive bot interactions. Combined with webviews, this updated feature allows developers to launch rich workflows and experiences directly from the menu. Developers now have access to the enhanced menu structure. Learn more.

He also described the new social sharing functionality as follows:

  • In addition to the share button that developers already had access to, they can now customize the content that appears when users share messages—images, messages, buttons—and websites can be linked to bots. He wrote, “For example, when sharing scores from your Trivia Blast game in webview, users can share their rank and challenge their friends in Messenger.” Learn more.
  • Webviews in Messenger now include a “Send in Messenger” button, enabling users to share content from the webview with friends via the application.
  • Developers can now link custom shared messages directly to their chat bots via their URLs in buttons, enabling users to click links to start conversations within those bots. Developers can also track user entry points and enable specific actions within the bot by using a ref param.

As for the updates to customer matching, He wrote:

Launched with the original Platform announcement in April 2016, the customer matching feature offers businesses the option to send messages to people in Messenger who have provided their phone number and consent to be contacted. We are now enabling businesses to submit full names, in conjunction with customer phone numbers, to increase matching accuracy. Messages sent via customer matching will continue to show up as Message Requests, giving people the option to open up the incoming thread. SMS customers who previously received text-centric, limited, opt-in content can now see richer content in Messenger from the brands they already interact with once they accept the Message Request. Learn more.

Other new features described by He were:

  • Messenger Profile API (application-programming interface), a new Graph API endpoint where developers can share information on their chat bots, including target country, localization of greeting texts and persistent menus.
  • An API that allows developers to request Messenger codes on behalf of their clients.
  • A webhook event that will alert developers when users are about to check out on purchases, enabling them to update prices and shipping costs prior to payment. This feature is only available to native payments beta developers.
  • Additional stats in app-level analytics via the Graph API—threads, block, delete and report rates.
  • Developers can now specify landscape or square as the image aspect ratios for their generic templates.
  • A new API that allows developers to upload attachments and receive attachment_id codes.
  • Developers can now access a list of supported features on Messenger extensions.
  • The limit on text in messages and button templates was doubled to 640 characters from 320.

He reminded developers that they can view the full change log and documentation for complete details. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.