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Recent Changes to Facebook Messenger Policy & What They Mean for your eComm Business

Facebook is constantly evolving their platform, and regularly makes changes to uphold and improve user experience. While this is clearly good for the long term sustainability of both the Ad Platform and the Messenger platform, many changes have an impact on business’ ability to reach & engage their customers. In this article, we discuss the recent changes and propose some actions you may need to take as a result.

The 24+1 Rule

When a customer messages your page, it opens a window of time during which you’re allowed to send messages back. In essence, you can send whatever type of messages you like (subject to Facebook’s content policies) for a 24 hour period. Each time a customer engages by sending a message back in return, that re-opens the 24 hour window.

Of course, what Facebook’s looking for here is engagement. As long as you’re having a conversation, you can keep sending messages. Facebook do not want you to be spamming people with messages. For that reason, if the customer has not interacted with you for 24 hours, you have 1 more allowed message of promotional nature, after which you’re only allowed to send messages related to one of 17 prescribed types (see below).

Theoretically, the 24+1 rule has been in effect for over a year, however with the broad-scale removal of app-level subscriptions in June 2019, Facebook is increasingly policing this policy, and pages that continue to send messages outside the prescribed types could end up seeing their Messaging privileges revoked, or even their page closed.

While this is a good rule to prevent unscrupulous marketers from spamming customers en-masse and destroying the wonderful open rates we all currently enjoy, it means that we need to be very selective about the messages we send out, when we send them, and focus on encouraging re-engagement. Engagement after all is what Facebook are after.


  1. Review any sequences you have set up in your bots and ensure that you’re tagging users appropriately.
  2. Where possible, restructure your sequences so that when a user replies to the first message, they are activated for future messages. In that way you know you won’t be falling foul of the 24 +1 rule.
  3. Structure your chats to encourage interaction – your opening message should encourage the user to respond before getting more content, thereby reopening your 24+1 cycle.

Prescribed Message Types

Certain messages types are permitted to be sent at any time (ie, outside of the 24+1 rule), and by and large relate to event, order, or other important updates of a transactional nature that a user may need to know about. There are 17 types in total, and you can learn about them here.

Updates to Broadcasting

Unless you have a Page-Level subscription approved by Facebook, you will not be able to send non-promotional broadcasts that do not fall under one of the above approved tags, unless you are ONLY sending as a ‘+1’ follow up message. If you want to engage your audience with things like blog updates, value & engagement sequences inside Messenger, or any other type of non-promotional content, you must apply for a Page Subscription.

Previously, much like email enables mass mail-outs to your list, Facebook allowed businesses to send a message simultaneously to all active subscribers. Tied up with the increased enforcement of 24+1, that function is now being removed. Furthermore, until 30/04/2019 you were able to piggyback of your bot platform page subscription to send messages after 24+1 had expired. This was extended to 30.06 for Manychat users but from July 1 st , you must apply for individual page subscription.

Again, Facebook have ostensibly made this change to protect the user experience, however the ulterior motive would appear to be to encourage re-engagement by Sponsored Messages (that is, Ads inside Facebook Messenger). You got it, Messenger Marketing is super effective and Facebook wants to cash in.

To use the broadcast feature going forward, you must either:

  1. Apply for a Page-level subscription on the basis of 1 of 3 categories of non-promotional content, including News, Personal Development and Productivity.
  2. Only send broadcasts using the ‘follow up message’ type. Note that users who don’t engage with one of these messages should not be messaged again by your page.

Frankly, this could be seen as a major issue for most eCommerce brands, who often don’t fall under one of these 3 categories. It has been common practice for many brands to acquire subscribers ahead of big sales events such as Black Friday, Prime Day and Christmas sales in order to keep them updated with deals, and customers who subscribe for such updates obviously want them, however Facebook have yet to respond to that demand. At the present time, you are not allowed to send promotional messages outside the 24+1 rule.


  1. Consider whether you can create valuable content that could fall under one of the three subscription types. For example, if your store sells health food, can you create a weekly or monthly series of health food recipes and apply under Health & Personal Development? For more information on whether your business may qualify, visit Facebook’s guidance here.
  2. Make sure you’re capturing email addresses or some other type of contact information so you can reach out at a later date and entice your customers to come back into your messenger bot. For more information on ways to make email and Messenger work in tandem, checkout our recent blog post {link}
  3. Take a fresh look at how well you’re segmenting your Messenger subscribers with tags. A smart tag strategy will mean super-targeted Sponsored Messages and other re-engagement Ad campaigns. Meaning you don’t waste money on offers that are unlikely to appeal to some of your customers.
  4. We know that Email open rates for eComm stores are not that great, and sending SMS messages has a cost attached. For that reason, if your eComm store is primed for returning customers, our Amplifier solution can help insulate yourself from both poor Email open rates and future restrictions in Facebook Messenger. Find out more about Amplifier here.