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Facebook gets down to business with messaging

Facebook is providing tools for developers to build ways for businesses to use its flagship messaging platforms to contact customers.

The social networking giant appears to have made enterprise users the focus of this year's F8 Refresh developers event, introducing a bunch of new updates that are designed to expand the usability of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp as business channels.

After launching the Messenger Platform as open APIs in 2016, Facebook said it has now opened up the Messenger API for Instagram to all developers, allowing brands to offer messaging experiences on Instagram.

Business mail: Facebook is continuing its move into enterprise with better access for business to its messaging platforms.   (Source: Tim Bennett on Unsplash)
Business mail: Facebook is continuing its move into enterprise with better access for business to its messaging platforms.
(Source: Tim Bennett on Unsplash)

"With these new features, businesses can integrate Instagram messaging with their preferred applications and workflows," Facebook said.

Furthermore, it announced new updates to WhatsApp Business that the social network said "will make it easier for businesses to get started using the WhatsApp Business API and for people to easily chat with these businesses."

The updates include a shortened onboarding process "from weeks to just five minutes"; support for more types of messages, such as letting people know when an item is back in stock; and new messaging features, including list messages, so people can respond without typing, and reply buttons, so people can make a selection with a quick tap.

Other announcements included Login Connect with Messenger, enabling customers to opt into messaging with businesses directly from the Facebook Login flow. This feature is currently in closed beta and is expected to be widely available in the coming months.

In addition, the new Facebook Business Extension is designed to allow developers to integrate third-party business applications with Facebook Business Suite.

Facebook also recently said that Workplace by Facebook, an enterprise collaboration platform, has reached 7 million paid subscribers – an increase of over 40% in the past year.

Alternative revenue streams

Reuters noted that Facebook has previously indicated it will focus on building e-commerce features to expand beyond its ad business — an area that is expected to be adversely impacted by Apple's new data privacy policies.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts during an earnings call in April that the company has "a long way to go to build out a full-featured commerce platform ... but I am very committed to getting there."


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As well as the new Apple rules, Facebook has faced other challenges of late, such as the customer backlash after updating the WhatsApp privacy policy.

Reuters also pointed out that although Facebook is grappling with data privacy and transparency concerns in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, it still plans to launch new tools to allow researchers to analyze its data across public pages, groups and events.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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