Facebook Messenger has become a staple among businesses big and small. Over the past several years, it’s helped SMEs handle customer queries at scale and major brands like KLM connect in ways that are not only interesting but highly convenient.
But While it’s easy for most brands to set up a run-of-the-mill bot, it’s Messenger’s API that ensures these experiences are tailor-made and personalised to certain brands and their customer demands.
Unfortunately for Facebook, that same API is under threat by new GDPR rules, which are due to come into effect on December 16th. In a nutshell, the stricter privacy laws, as laid out by the EU, could mean that bots that use Messenger’s API (mainly bigger brands) won’t work as they should.
What services will the new GDPR rules impact?
Facebook has already been sending warnings to European pages and recently took to its developer portal to warn about changes to some aspects of its API. Suffice to say, it’s not good news.
Among the biggest casualties will be icebreaker – which lets users open a conversation with a bot using a list of FAQs – and persistent menu. The latter is designed to make navigating services within a chat easier.
Outside of these two features, templates, web buttons and AV attachments are set to be impacted by the changes too. Messenger has already warned some businesses to get their services in order ahead of time, which shows just how seriously they’re taking things.
Will small businesses get caught up in the changes?
It’s important to note these changes only affect brands that use Messenger’s API. That tends to be bigger companies, including international courier services and airlines. Nevertheless, there are some SME brands that use third-party services to manage their messaging.
One of these services, which will be well-known to most marketers, is Hootsuite. Not to mention the wealth of chatbot providers, who build bespoke solutions for businesses who want to get more out of Messenger. If you’re unsure, it’s best to check whether or not your company makes use of the API – either directly or through a third-party.
If you don’t, you should have nothing to worry about. That being said, this latest round of changes doesn’t bode well for the instant messaging space, particularly following Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Kustomer – a customer-service and chatbot solutions company.
How will this impact social commerce?
You’ve probably read about social commerce a lot lately. You might even be wondering how and where your brand fits into the conversation.
Essentially, social commerce concerns platforms like Facebook and Instagram and their future as major outlets for everything from food shopping to fashion.
Facebook has been preparing to take a bigger share of the ecommerce world with the launch of several features, including a dedicated shopping portal and Checkout on Instagram for seamless payments.
The issue is some social commerce features use Facebook’s Messenger’s API. As a result, shopping could also take a hit. Not to mention the fact that instant messaging is a key part of the consumer journey for purchases made on social. It’s here that brands can promote products and glean data about which products users want.
Will Facebook’s other social media platforms be affected?
Facebook has a lot of bad blood with the EU, particularly the European Data Commissioner. But it’s important to note that GDPR has far-reaching effects for all platforms, email providers and websites.
While WhatsApp hasn’t yet been mentioned in these latest changes, we can safely say that Instagram’s direct messages interface will likely be implicated, following Facebook’s decision to merge it with Messenger.
Instagram has already been having trouble introducing suicide prevention measures on the platform, due to GDPR rules, and the indiction is the rules can only get more strict.
My advice to all marketers
To coin an age-old saying, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. GDPR is a thorny issue that’s made all the more thornier when you’re on the wrong side of regulation.
Instant messaging is and will continue to be an important part of the marketer’s toolbox, but you’ve got to have back up processes in place to deliver a consistent service – for instance, a live bot on your website or a well-thought out Twitter or email strategy.
As we’ve known for a while, the demand for more personalised and human-like experiences does bring with it privacy challenges. Now and going into 2021, t’s every marketer’s duty to not just deliver great campaigns and customer service but also to make sure they’re on the right side of these challenges.
Still stuck? Let’s talk! Get in touch via the email below for more marketing advice and tips from Digital Human.