Facebook Messenger Platform 2.1 might make it easier to talk to brands

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Facebook launched Messenger Platform 2.1 on Thursday with new and improved tools for businesses to connect with customers through conversations. The features include built-in natural language processing, new buttons, chat extensions for global pages, and more to help enhance communication between brands and consumers.

The latest version comes only a few weeks after Facebook announced it was expanding its Messenger ads beta globally. It gives any advertiser in the world the option to purchase ads in Messenger for users to see in the Messenger home tab. The beta is also meant to provide a more unique and personalized experience by using an ad to direct users to a Messenger window.

Using natural language processing that is built into the platform, Messenger 2.1 automatically detects meaning and information in the text of messages before sending it over to the bot. So far, the first version can detect common words like thanks, hello, date and time, location, and phone number, among others. When one of these particular words are detected, the bot then sounds out an automated response.

With the handover protocol feature, it enables businesses to incorporate more personalized customer support into the consumer experience. By creating multiple experiences with one bot, businesses can use it to answer common questions through automation and then pass it over to live agents. That way, if there is a particular question a bot cannot answer, the agent will be able to further assist the customer.

In terms of payments, version 2.1 also comes with a newly designed software development kit to make the payment process easier. Customers can now pay through a one step process simply through Messenger webview. However, payments through the platform are currently in beta and available only in the U.S. as of now.

Businesses will also be able to add new call-to-action buttons to their page in an effort to drive people to Messenger. While “Send Message” already exists, additional options include actions like “Shop Now,” “Get Support,” and “Get Updates.” By being more transparent with the actions, Facebook feels that customers will have a better idea of what to expect when starting a conversation with a particular business.

Other new features include enabling chat extensions for Global Pages — where businesses can build collaborative experiences — and policy enforcement notifications that notify developers when a bot has been blocked or if there is a policy issue.