Strategy

Whether using a bot or implementing live messaging, it’s important to define the experience you want to create for yourself and the people you’re interacting with on Messenger. Before any messages get sent, take the time to:

  • Determine your goals. Do you want to design around utility, delight or a mixture of both? Understanding your strategy and what you want to accomplish will help you create the best experience.
  • Decide what you want people to do. What actions do you want people to take? Are there multiple tasks you want them to complete? How are those tasks completed outside of Messenger? Determine all the paths people can navigate when designing your interactions.
  • Plan how you’ll evolve. Once people complete your tasks, what are some ways you can keep the interaction going? Consider how you can expand your capabilities to grow your experience and extend your lifecycle.

Focus on doing a couple things really well; doing too much creates confusion and dilutes your experience.

Discovery

Messenger not only gives you an easier way to message; it also offers ways for people to find you and get in touch.

Plugins

Build awareness and let people know you're on Messenger with buttons for websites, email and more.

  • Message Us. Automatically takes people to Messenger where they can send the first message. Consider how you’ll introduce yourself when someone reaches out.
  • Send to Messenger. Gives people the option to receive information from you in Messenger. Good for transactional notifications like receipts, shipping alerts, etc.

When using a plugin, consider adding text around it that explains what will happen when people click or tap the button. This will help set expectations about the experience you’re providing in Messenger.

Start conversations even faster with codes and URLs that make it easy for people to contact you.

  • Messenger Codes. People can use their phone camera to scan these unique codes and find you on Messenger.
  • Messenger Links. A short and memorable URL that people can click to instantly open a conversation with you.

With these discovery tools, you can reach your existing audience, engage with new ones and get even more people talking.

Onboarding

Once you get discovered, there are three tools within Messenger that help you explain what your experience includes, how it works and why people should interact with you.

Messenger Greeting

Your greeting is what people see the first time they find you on Messenger. It disappears once someone taps Get Started or sends you a message.

  • Do consider your greeting an introduction and a summary of your experience. Greetings have a 160 character maximum, so keep it concise.
  • Do communicate your main functionality. Context helps people understand how to interact with you and sets expectations about your capabilities.
  • Don’t treat your greeting like an instructional manual. Because your greeting disappears, use your actual messages to introduce specific functionality and commands.
  • Don't use excessive text formatting (ex: spacing, punctuation, returns) in your greeting so you can make the most of the character limit.

You can set up and customize your Messenger Greeting in Page Settings.

Get Started Button

Located below your Messenger Greeting, this button serves as a clear call-to-action to start your experience. When someone taps it, your bot receives a signal that can be used to send a personalized welcome message back, your greeting disappears and your interaction officially begins.

  • Do give people a way to launch your experience. The “Get Started” button helps people initiate an interaction even if they don't know what to write in their first message.
  • Don't forget everything on the screen works together. The context you provide in your Messenger Greeting should complement the “Get Started” button.

Welcome Message

This is the message people receive when they interact with you for the first time. It’s your opportunity to get more specific about the experience you created in Messenger, clarify your functionality and set expectations.

  • Do communicate next steps to encourage a response. You can use buttons to add structure to your message and call out specific actions people can take. Read more about buttons in the Messaging section.
  • Do share basic commands. Communicate which keywords or terms people can use to ask for help, get updates, etc., so they find what they want more quickly.
  • Don’t be too generic. Try addressing people by name to make the message feel personal and treating it as an opportunity to teach them how to use and control the experience.

Remember: When your experience changes, so should your onboarding. Revisit your greeting and welcome message as you update your capabilities to make sure they’re still relevant.

Interactions

When people opt into your experience, you can use a variety of message types, updates and responses to interact with them. Whether you're starting or continuing a conversation, be mindful of pacing; sending too many messages at once can create an overwhelming and negative experience.

Messaging

Personalize your interactions and increase engagement with these message types and templates. When deciding which to use, consider what matches your overall functionality and what you’re trying to communicate.

Text

The simplest and most familiar way to interact. This message type relies solely on words to communicate.

  • Do keep it short. Consider screen size and scrolling behavior; compact messages are easier for people to follow.
  • Don’t write lengthy exchanges. If you need to communicate multiple things, try sending a few separate messages instead of one long one.

Photo

Make your message visually engaging. Try adding an image to your interaction to complement your text.

  • Do pay attention to quality. Use colorful images with high resolution to make your messages stand out.
  • Do consider aspect ratio. Review how your image may get cropped when it appears in the message bubble.
  • Don't put large amounts of text in your image. If you have a lot to communicate, use a text-only message instead.

Structured Messages

You can also send structured messages. The following templates can help you define the hierarchy within your messages and create rich, dynamic interactions.

Button

An easy way to add calls-to-action to your messages and help people complete tasks, get information or answer questions.

  • Do start with a verb to help people understand the action they’re taking and what will result from that action.
  • Don’t use more than 1-3 words or add punctuation. Try to keep your text under 20 characters, including spaces.

Generic

With a combination of text, images and buttons, this template is ideal for messages that have a structured information hierarchy.

  • Do apply to messages that have a consistent hierarchy (ex: product or article previews, weather forecasts and order confirmations).
  • Do use the correct aspect ratio. Photos in the generic template that aren't 1.91:1 will be scaled or cropped.
  • Don’t use the generic template if your message doesn't have structured information or require hierarchy.

Carousels

Configure the generic template to create a horizontal row of bubbles when you want to send multiple, similar messages (ex: product selections, weather forecasts or news articles).

  • Do strive for consistency. While the information in your carousel may vary slightly, if one bubble has a photo, include a photo in all of them.
  • Do minimize the number of bubbles in your carousel. Too many makes it hard for people to remember all the options.
  • Don’t mix message types or formats. If you include an article next to a list of products, your experience could cause confusion.

Receipts

This template allows you to summarize and confirm a purchase. When tapped, it brings the recipient to a native details view where they can get additional information about the transaction.

  • Do continue to keep people informed. After the receipt is delivered, send timely updates that contain shipping and delivery confirmation.
  • Don’t use the receipt template to communicate info unrelated to purchases. It should only be used to confirm a previous transaction.

Buttons

Buttons can be added to any structured template to give people choices and direct them towards particular tasks. There are two distinct types of button functionality:

URL Buttons

When tapped, this button sends people to a URL of your choosing.

  • Do use it for tasks that you want completed on your website (ex: purchases, account linking, etc.). Make it clear you’re sending people outside of Messenger.
  • Don’t rely on URLs for every button. The more interactions you can build within Messenger, the more seamless your experience will be.

Callback Buttons

When tapped, this button sends a callback to your servers that triggers an automatic response.

  • Do send a response after someone taps a callback button. This confirms that you've processed or completed their action (ex: canceling a reservation, answering a question).
  • Don’t use a single callback button. Where's only one button to choose from, people often think it's a continuation of your message text and don't understand it's an action you want them to take.

You may find yourself relying on certain message types more than others. Where appropriate, vary the way you deliver messages and see how it impacts engagement.

Updates and Alerts

Keep people up-to-date with messages that are timely and relevant to your experience. If an action is completed, follow up with messages confirming the activity and communicate any necessary next steps. If you're building a subscription model, strive to send your updates at the same time each day.

  • Do let people know you’ve processed their information or request. Send receipts for purchases, verify answers to questions, acknowledge preferences, etc.
  • Do give people a way to explicitly opt-in. Be specific about what they’ll receive and how often, and give them a way to opt out or update their preferences.
  • Don’t change the type of info you send without consent. If people signed up for a specific alert, honor their preferences.

Push notifications give people a preview of your updates and alerts, and let them know when you send a new message, even when they’re not in Messenger. Notifications are also an easy way to get people to re-engage.

  • Do be proactive. Tell people who’ve opted into your experience when there’s a message waiting for them.
  • Do consider going “silent”. If you send a lot of messages, silence the notifications for the ones that aren’t time-sensitive.
  • Don’t send too many. If people get overwhelmed by excessive notifications, they may decide to ignore the conversation entirely or block your activity.

Fail States

While some tools can automate your interactions, remember that you're still communicating with humans. This means that messages and intent are open to interpretation. Be transparent when you receive requests that you don't understand or recognize. Ask for clarification and communicate how you can/can't help.

  • Do re-educate people. If they ask for something outside your experience, reiterate your capabilities, tell people about help commands or use buttons to offer options and redirect them.
  • Do look at each failure as a piece of feedback that tells you what’s working, what isn’t and how you can evolve the way you communicate on Messenger.
  • Don’t expect perfection. No matter how much you plan, anticipate, or respond, people are going to miss details, ask the unexpected, see how much they can get away with and, as a result, get frustrated.
  • Don’t send multiple, identical failure messages. Reduce friction by limiting the number of failure responses people receive and by varying the language in each message.

Your interactions are your opportunity to keep people engaged. Whether they’re used to start a conversation or keep it going, use them to continually set expectations about how your experience works and the value it provides.

Language

Because your interactions take place on Messenger, a platform built around conversations, the words you use go far in explaining what your experience is and why people should use it.

Writing Best Practices

Messenger may be a new communication channel, but it doesn’t need to change the way you communicate. Your brand has a personality and you know what defines it, so as you write and develop your messages, remember to:

Preserve your voice

While you’re using platform tools to reach people on Messenger, you own your interactions. Your voice is your personality; continue to use it with a tone that feels natural and human.

  • Do rely on familiarity. Continue to use terms and phrases that people already know and have come to associate with you.
  • Don’t create a new personality. It creates confusion and people will wonder if they’re interacting with the right brand.

Set expectations

Based on the goals and tasks you outlined, write in a way that lets people know exactly what they can do and what you want them to do. Be as descriptive as possible to communicate your core functions.

  • Do let people know how often you’ll reach out or respond. Knowing your availability and level of responsiveness helps people understand your timing.
  • Don’t imply that you offer live messaging if you don’t support it (or never will). Be direct about your capabilities so people respond accordingly.

Provide context

To build understanding of the experience you’re creating, use your content to guide people every step of the way. Tell them what stage they’re at, what’s being asked of them, and what will happen next.

  • Do confirm actions people take. It will make people feel like you’re “listening” and make your experience even more reliable.
  • Don’t keep people waiting. If someone asks for something, acknowledge their request and let them know if and when you can deliver.

These writing best practices will help you continually build trust as people discover and get to know your experience on Messenger. The more people understand how to interact with you, the more likely you are to keep them engaged.

Writing Your Interactions

Before you interact with people in Messenger, pretend you’ve already had a conversation and start building a library of prompts and responses. Think about how you want the interaction to go, all the possible ways it could actually go and:

Create a list of keywords

What terms are associated with your brand? What vernacular might people use to talk about or to you? Identifying all possible language triggers and variations can define the help commands, prompts and responses you build.

  • Do think internationally when developing this list. Consider how definitions could change based on location, language, and culture. Think about how translation will impact the length of your messages.
  • Don’t make up words, introduce new terminology or use slang. Subtle nuances don’t translate well in writing, so it’s best to keep things simple as people learn how to interact with you in Messenger.

Map out interactions

Based on the tasks, expectations, and context you want to establish, write out all of the prompts and responses you want to send. Consider the available message types as you write—whether a message is text-only or includes a button helps determine word choice and placement.

  • Do center what you write around intent: what you want to accomplish, the actions you want people to take and what people may want from you. This also makes it easier for you to set expectations and provide context.
  • Do write multiple versions of each message. This creates a diverse experience and helps you avoid repetition and interaction fatigue. People will stop engaging if you’re always saying the same thing.
  • Don’t make your conversations one-sided. Your goals may differ from the people you’re talking to. Consider how they might reply and what they may ask of you, and prepare responses accordingly.
  • Don’t use standalone questions. This could imply free form interaction and encourage people to respond in ways you don’t support. If you do pose questions, add buttons with specific answers to the message and ask people to choose one.

Every interaction is an opportunity to evaluate and make improvements to your existing experience and the messages that drive it. Use people’s responses to determine how and where to expand your capabilities.

Tips for Sounding More Conversational

Being conversational is a style of writing. It doesn’t impact the experience you build, the message types you use or what you’re actually communicating. While being conversational encourages the use of everyday, colloquial language, it doesn’t mean your messages should be written so casually that you sacrifice communicating core capabilities, misrepresent utility or break trust.

When determining whether to apply a conversational tone to your existing voice, consider who you’re interacting with and the task you’re asking them to complete. If you’re talking to a business audience or asking someone to confirm personal information, being too casual may create a feeling of caution and discourage people from interacting with you.

A conversational tone should support an experience, not define it. If you want to try applying it to your interactions, following are some simple ways to implement it without changing the meaning of your messages:

Active Voice

In an active sentence, the subject of the sentence is doing something. In a passive sentence, something is being done to the subject (making the subject passive). Active voice is also more direct and helps with brevity. “Breaking news is delivered by CNN” is not as clear, short or simple as, “CNN delivers breaking news.”

Contractions

An easy way to make your messages feel conversational is to use shortened versions of words or groups of words, where an apostrophe (‘) replaces at least one letter. For example, “We cannot wait to get started” feels robotic, whereas “We can’t wait to get started” feels light and casual.

First and Second Person

Standardize who’s speaking in your messages and decide between first person singular (“I” as if an individual is speaking) or first person plural (“We” or “Spring” as if the company is speaking). Use second person (you, your, you're) to address people, so you’re talking to them and not at them.

Grammar

While you may be communicating more informally than you’re used to, don’t break the basic rules of writing. You want to be casual, but you also want to be taken seriously. Proper spelling, capitalization and sentence structure keep the focus on your experience and clarify what you’re actually trying to say.

Punctuation

How and where you use periods, ellipses, exclamation points and the like also plays a part in defining your experience on Messenger. Be mindful of how each impacts your overall tone, but don’t be afraid to use punctuation to convey enthusiasm, suspense or other emotions in your messages.

Tone

Writing conversationally doesn't mean creating an entirely new brand. Your voice is your personality and your tone is how you express that personality. Conversational simply means being more personal in your interactions. Not sure if you're succeeding? Say your responses out loud to hear how they sound when you speak.

Example of how the tone of an order confirmation can differ across delivery channels without changing what’s being communicated:

Website Email Messenger

Your order has been processed. This is a summary of your purchase:

  • Running shoes
  • Cashmere sweater

We will update your account when these items have shipped.

We received your order. Your purchase includes:

  • Running shoes
  • Cashmere sweater

A confirmation email will be sent once these items have shipped.

Thanks for your order! We'll let you know when your running shoes and cashmere sweater have shipped.

Writing is best when it’s authentic and relatable. You know your brand and experience best, so use your own judgement, do what feels right for you and the audience, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way.