Big Changes Coming to Facebook Messenger on March 4, 2020

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This is an updated article to our previous one published here.

We’ve also released a Mini-Course to help you DIY and prepare for March 4th. Just click the image below 👇🏼

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If you need some extra DIY Help.

Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service are always changing and in limbo. The biggest changes are coming on March 4th, 2020. Big enough where you’ll need to do some sizable rework of your campaigns.

Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know about our “Full Terms of Service Messenger Audit” service. Our team of Messenger experts well informed on the ToS changes coming out and will go through all of your Messenger assets with a fine-tooth comb for you.

Click here to schedule a free consult if you think you need an extra set of eyes.


Facebook Messenger has been by far the winner of 2019 when it comes to marketing communication channels:

99.9% Deliverability

85% - 95% on average Open Rates

25% - 60% CTR depending on industry

“At Messenger, we want to help people and businesses connect in meaningful ways. We remain committed to helping businesses continue to grow and thrive on our platform. That’s why we are making updates to our platform to improve the user experience for people, and to help businesses drive more effective outcomes on Messenger. ManyChat has been a valuable partner in business messaging and we look forward to growing our partnership with them.”

– Ze’ev Rosenstein, Head of People to Business Messaging, Messenger

Messenger is their system, which means they have absolute control of the user experience. That’s a great thing for marketers that are using the tool with integrity and those that are willing and able to adapt will see even better results.


Are you willing and able to adapt to this changing ecosystem? If so, keep reading.

If not, then yes “Facebook Messenger is dead… for you”


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What are the changes coming March 4th, 2020?

That’s why you came here, after all! 

Short and sweet version of the changes:

  • The “24+1 Window” is transforming into just the “24 Window

  • Subscription Messaging is going away for all but certified News Pages (yes, if you’ve been approved pre-January 15, 2020 this is being taken from you)

  • You’ll have 4 Message Tags to choose from vs. 17

  • New addition:  a one-time notification API has been release that will allow you to send a one-time notification to users that have explicitly opted in for it.

Good news: If you use ManyChat as a software to run your Messenger Marketing efforts, they’ve already implemented a lot of new features, and will continue to implement ones, to make sure that compliance is easy as 1-2-3.


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The “24 + 1 Window” Will Become The “24 Window”

If you’re already familiar with the 24 + 1 Window, this one won’t be too hard to wrap your head around. 

  • You’ll continue to be allowed to message users within the last 24 hours of their last interaction with your Business Page.

  • But, you lose the “+1” message that we used to call our “lifesaver message” to send anytime once that 24-hour window has closed for an interaction.

  • This window only pertains to promotional messages. So you have the freedom to send as many promotional messages as you want inside of that window… but please don’t.

Sending a stream of unsolicited and/or annoying promotional messages—even in the 24-hour window—is a surefire way to get people to block your page from messaging them. And a really quick way to put you in “Facebook Jail” and have them take away your Messenger privileges. 

It happens… you’ve been warned.

Changes you need to make:

Add one of the 4 “Message Tags” to existing messages that need to be sent outside of the 24-hour window.

  • Psst —> If you use ManyChat, any message that falls outside of the 24-hour window in your existing flows without one of the 4 tags will not send after March 4, 2020.

  • Has to be said —> DO NOT add these tags to messages that are promotional and/or do not fit one of the 4 categories. Yes, it’ll send, but you’re asking to get permanently stripped of your Messenger rights pretty quickly.

  • Not IF you’re caught… but WHEN you’re caught.

  • How do you send promotional messages outside of the 24 hour window? Easy, Subscription Messaging. Read our article about this very easy mistake to make.


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The 4 Message Tags

You probably didn’t even know there were 17 of them to begin with… or even more likely you don’t even know what “Message Tags” are.

  • This was used in Broadcast Messaging in ManyChat for a while, and if you’re using the API directly, you’ll know what these are.

  • These tags were and are important to allow businesses to reach their customers via Messenger after their 24-hour window has closed.

Inside of the ManyChat Flow Builder, you’ll see that each Message Element now has a “Content Type” dropdown to add 3 of the 4 tags: Post-Purchase Update, Confirmed Event Update, Account Update.

The fourth, you ask? That’s Human Agent, which is automatically added when you message a user manually through the Live Chat feature.

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  • Post-Purchase Update - You can use this tag for any sort of non-promotional messages that are needed after a purchase. These things can include: Delivery updates and notifications, purchase updates. If a portion of your product is delivered in Messenger on an ongoing basis you can use it for that.

  • Confirmed Event Update - You can use this tag to update customers or prospects that have registered for an event: To send reminders, request confirmation, notify a schedule change, etc. We think it’s best practice to have users explicitly agree to receive these updates via Messenger.

  • Account Update - You can use this tag to send messages notifying customers about their account: Bill reminders, update credit card, suspicious activity, code verification, application statuses… and so on.

  • Human Agent - This is meant for live agent interactions to allow for you to interact with your customers via Live Chat about non-promotional and non-automated related items. Note: there is a window on this, too: you have 7 days use this tag and message after their last interaction with your Business Page.

See also
Facebook Messenger’s 24+1 Rule Explained

Want to use the “Human Agent”/Live Chat to send a one-off manual promotional message? Don’t. Use a Sponsored Message, Email, and/or SMS.

Want to send a post-purchase promo-code as a “thank you” or a message about receiving rewards for referring their friends? Don’t. Use a Sponsored Message, Email, and/or SMS.

Want to send a reminder about an event and also ask them to invite a friend? Don’t. Use a Sponsored Message, Email, and/or SMS.

I’m sure you have objections to the exclusion of a few 1:1 message use cases that are not promotional. Us too. But Facebook Messenger Terms of Service (TOS) are not set in stone and the team at Facebook is constantly trying to find the right balance between great UX and giving the most tools to businesses to engage with their audience.

If you implement a broader omni-channel marketing strategy utilizing Messenger alongside SMS and Email, you’ll have no problem adapting to these changes. And arguably, an omni-channel solution gives you a higher ROI, in general.


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Subscription Messaging Changes

Before March 4th, 2020: Subscription Messaging will continue to allow businesses to send messages under the categories of News, Productivity, or Personal Tracking.

And, platforms like ManyChat could get app-level subscription permissions and pass it on to businesses. This means, that in the past you’ve had no problem sending Broadcast Messages, autopost, and other messages in sequences without needing to apply on a page-level basis. This last piece changed on August 1, 2019, which then made it a requirement for pages to apply on their own.

On March 4th, 2020 and forward: Subscription Messaging will allow businesses to send messages only under the category of News. A permission that had been granted for other categories will be “deprecated” - i.e., stripped away.

However, don’t freak out. It’s probably the case that most of you reading this article have struggled to get your page approved for Subscription Messaging under any category. ManyChat’s team reported that only 0.5% of their users actually have had page-level Subscription Messaging granted by Facebook.


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Recently Added: One-Time Notification API

This was not something that had been mentioned when Facebook’s team originally planned to release the ToS updates back on January 15th, 2020. It was a bit of a stretch to expect users to interact with Business Page’s via Messenger every day… And also a stretch to expect existing Business Page users to all pay-to-play.

This seems to be Facebook’s attempt to bridge the gap. Think of it as the “+1 Message*” (with an asterisk).

*as long as you have permission for the user to send it.

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Source; Facebook for Developers

What you have to do to access this feature…

  1. Go to your Business Page

  2. Click Settings

  3. Go to “Advanced Messaging” and scroll down to “Requested Features”

  4. Click “One-Time Notification” and go through the beta terms to be granted access to this feature.

Yes, you have to apply for this permission, like you had to do with Subscription Messaging. However, unlike Subscription Messaging, you won’t be subject to an uncertain application process that only a small percentage of pages actually qualified for.

If you use a third-party platform like ManyChat their flow builder tools will make use of this API in a friendly manner inside of the Message element - or so we speculate. I imagine it will be added as an “Action” on button click and/or User Input. We’ll update this article when we know for sure.

If you’re a developer and would like to take advantage of this API on your own rather than through a third-party tool - you can visit the article on Facebook for Developers here.


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What’s the good news?

If you’re on ManyChat, you’ll know that their team is working around the clock to make it so that these ongoing Messenger TOS changes either go unnoticed when possible or to give you the proper tools to make sure you are compliant.

They’ve released Message Tags, a “Flow Checker” to let you know if your Flow will send all inside of a 24 hour window and/or have the proper tags to send out side of it, and much more.

If you’re on a tool that is making you do all the work yourself, it’s in your best interest to look to switching. Because these platforms are not liable if your page gets its Messenger privileges revoked.

The Not-So-Good News with a Solution

As great as ManyChat may be, as with any other tool, they won’t automatically change all of the work you’ve put in already. And, try as you may, it’s a real possibility that what you have is not even fully compliant with the current Facebook TOS.

What I wrote about above is just some updates to Facebook Messenger’s TOS - not the full policy. So, it’s only a matter of time until you find your Messenger Privileges temporarily suspended… Or, dare we say, permanently revoked.


521976_Fix Line Weight of Core Service Icons_Facebook Messenger Marketing_082919.pngOur team of ManyChat Messenger Experts can help you with our Full Messenger Marketing Audit.We’ll provide you a report that will serve as a scorecard when it comes to compliance, user experience, and we’ll even provide you a strategy briefing on how you can further monetize Messenger. Maybe you don’t need help with compliance. This service is also great if:
  • You’ve installed and have been using templates that don’t seem to be performing quite as you thought.

  • Your Page’s Block and Reported Connection rates are climbing

  • You’re doing it yourself, and know that you could use a second pair of eyes

  • …You name it.

Schedule a free no-commitment call with one of our Messenger Marketing Experts today if you know you could benefit. 


Schedule FREE 30-MINUTE consultation

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