On December 4, Facebook made a major announcement that went largely unnoticed by Facebook marketers.
Yet the news and related policy have a hugely powerful impact on every business with a Facebook page.
This article covers:
- What is Facebook subscription messaging?
- Who should apply for subscription messaging?
- How do you request subscription messaging permissions?
- When should you request subscription messaging?
- Tips for getting your subscription messaging request approved
What Is Facebook Subscription Messaging?
What if, as an online marketer, you could:
- Message your target audience on Facebook from the platforms billions of active global users.
- Have one-to-one direct conversations with your customers and leads in a way that’s personalized and also scalable.
- Send interactive marketing communications in an interface that’s mobile-friendly out of the box.
This is a Facebook marketing engagement super power that most digital marketers aren’t leveraging.
It’s called subscription messaging on Facebook’s chat platform, Messenger.
Facebook subscription messaging is an advanced feature that Facebook defines as the ability for a Facebook page to send non-promotional content on a recurring basis using the Messenger platform.
Subscription messages have to follow Facebook’s rules:
- Non-promotional content.
- Falls under defined categories (news, productivity, or personal tracking).
- Recipients of subscription messages have to opt-in to subscription message.
When done right, Facebook subscription messaging gives businesses and their Facebook page admins the ability to send content directly to their customers, clients or leads for free with a Facebook Messenger chatbot (i.e., marketing automation in the Messenger channel).
The catch to using this next-level Facebook engagement tactic is that Facebook has to review and approve businesses before they have permission to send subscription messages.
And the Messenger team doesn’t hand out subscription messaging permissions to every Facebook page automatically.
Instead, Facebook page admins have to request it with a short application. Luckily, that process is pretty simple.
Who Should Apply for Subscription Messaging?
Any business that wants to connect with current and potential customers on the only digital marketing channel today that can generate up to 80 percent open rates and 20 percent click-through rates.
By sending content regularly through Facebook Messenger, you get benefits that will excite any metrics-driven marketer:
- 60 percent to 80 percent open rates.
- Response rates up to 20 percent.
- Leads, conversions, sign-ups and appointments.
- Send traffic to your main website or other assets for your brand.
- Results in 95 percent better CPAs when compared to Facebook Ads.
If unbeatable organic reach on Facebook sounds attractive to you or for your business, then you should apply for subscription messaging.
How Do You Request Subscription Messaging Permissions?
Applying for Facebook subscription messaging is an easy process. In fact, it only takes a few steps.
Facebook’s own description of the subscription messaging request process:
Page admins may access the subscription messaging request form by doing the following:
- Go to Page Settings > Messenger Platform
- Under ‘Subscription Messaging’ in the ‘Advanced Messaging Settings’ section, click the ‘Request’ button.
In the form, you’ll be asked to provide the following:
- A sample message and a brief description of how the bot will use subscription messaging.
- Which of the three eligible subscription messaging use cases applies to your Facebook page messaging.
- At least two examples of subscription messages the Facebook page will send.
- A confirmation that the bot will only send non-promotional content, and will abide by all Facebook Platform policies and community standards.
However, even though the process can take mere seconds to finish, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to pay special attention to what you put in your application. The Messenger team doesn’t approve everyone all willy-nilly, so a subpar application is going to lead to a rejection.
For step one, head over to your Facebook page and go to Settings. Then click Messenger Platform and scroll to Advanced Messaging Features. From there, click Request in the Subscription Messaging box.
To complete step two, you’ll fill out a three-part application. Begin by picking a category for your content. You can choose from:
- Personal Tracking
In most cases, businesses will want to use the News options, as that option gives you some flexibility and the other categories are highly specific.
You are then directed to the Details section of the application. Here, you want to give an overview of the kind of content you want to share, and you’ll need to provide a few examples. Remember, promotional content is a no-no for Facebook subscription messaging outside of the 24+1 rule, so avoid anything that even remotely seems salesy.
Instead, discuss the content and how its benefits readers in your overview. Talk about the news-worthy information you share and how it provides value. Write your description like you are talking to a person and avoid being aggressive.
Use the same mindset when writing your examples, focusing on how the content is informational and not intended to sell anything.
Finally, submit your application for approval and wait to hear back from the Messenger team.
When Should You Request Subscription Messaging?
Until December 4, Facebook had a December 31, 2018, deadline for subscription messaging requests.
But on December 4 that deadline was extended. Still, Facebook recommends that pages request subscription messaging, and I suggest requesting it now.
It takes a week to three weeks to receive approval, so it’s good to get the ball rolling today.
Today (and until Facebook says otherwise), you can send non-promotional subscription messages from a Facebook page to subscribers using a Facebook Messenger marketing app approved for subscription messaging, like MobileMonkey. (Disclosure: I work for MobileMonkey.)
If you have any plans to embrace the engagement unicorn that is Facebook subscription messaging, even if it is a little bit down the road, it’s always best to get a jump on it.
In some cases, the review process takes only a few days. However, some pages have waited months for approval. If you don’t apply now, you could be left twiddling your thumbs if Facebook makes another deadline or policy update.
It is important to note that there are 17 message types that can go through Facebook Messenger, and non-promotional subscription messaging it just one of the options.
If you are blocked from sending subscription messages, you can still send messages of any other category, including sponsored promotional messages.
But if you want the greatest free organic reach Facebook offers, you need to send subscription messages.
Tips for Getting Your Subscription Messaging Request Approved
You can increase your odds of being approved by following the rules when you apply. Don’t use promotional messages in your examples.
Remember that your application is being reviewed by a real person so you should speak to their humanity in your application.
If they find out that you aren’t adhering to the requirements, you can kiss your subscription messaging approval goodbye.
If you aren’t approved on your first attempt, don’t fret. A lot of pages are denied on their first attempt, so don’t give up.
Instead, apply again (there’s no limit to how many times you can apply, that I’ve seen) until you receive your approval. Just make sure you learn from past disapproved attempts and adjust your application.
With a little of your time and attention, subscription messaging approval will come to you, and with it, unmatched Facebook organic reach and engagement.
- Facebook Backtracks on Changing Chatbot Subscription Messaging Policies
- 11 Ways to Get Started with Chatbots for Facebook Messenger
- Why You Should Use Chatbots for Facebook Messenger Marketing
Screenshots taken by author, December 2018