Chatbots on Instagram? Soon, My Friends, Soon!
On October 19, 2020, ManyChat announced that Facebook is giving them early access to the Messenger API support for Instagram.
In short, this announcement means that ManyChat can start working on developing chatbots for Instagram, similar to how they have been crushing it with the chat industry on Facebook.
So Chatbots Are Not Actually Available On Instagram Yet?
Messenger marketing chatbots have been drag and drop accessible by marketers and businesses on Facebook Messenger for several years now, but not on Instagram (yet). You don’t need to know how to code to create a chatbot and chatbots are way more simple to build than they sound. And that’s thanks to the hard work of companies like ManyChat making easy tools for normal folks like us to build creative conversation flows without having to be a coding genius. We leave that up to ManyChat’s developers.
Now ManyChat’s developers are getting their hands on a shiny new toy … early access to the API that allows them to start building chatbots for Instagram. This will be the first step before chatbots become available to the rest of us on Instagram.
Facebook has opened this up for select companies including ManyChat to have first crack at bridging the gap between Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
This is monumental.
Are Chatbots For Instagram Good or Bad?
If you’re new to the world of chat marketing, let’s get you caught up quickly so we can get on to talking about how awesome this announcement is!
To say that messenger marketing is a rapidly growing industry is an understatement.
- 100 billion messages are sent on Facebook’s family of apps each day.
- On Facebook, ManyChat has over 2 million businesses using messenger marketing.
- ManyChat sees over 8.5 million conversations a day.
Let’s repeat that, 8.5 MILLION 💬 conversations a day!
ManyChat has been a trailblazer of the messenger marketing chatbot industry since starting in 2015. They are well known for their integration with Facebook Messenger, and businesses using ManyChat have been desperately waiting for these features to become available on Instagram since they teased it out to us at last year’s Conversations Conference in 2019.
Messenger Marketing on Instagram, Why Has It Taken So Long?
Until now, Instagram’s Platform Policy has been very strict for third party tools to work with. For example,
- Ensure your comments are uniquely tailored for each person. Don’t post unauthorized commercial communications or spam on Instagram.
- Don’t enable a business to take more than one action on Instagram at a time.
These terms would have been prohibitive to chatbot services on Instagram.
Many third party apps have been known to abuse or circumvent the rules (think spammy bots or auto-commenting bots) only to be eventually shut down by Instagram and giving all Bots a bad name.
Here one day, gone the next! And that’s for good reason. None of us want Instagram to turn into Spamville, and you know that us Marketers like to ruin everything, right?
Want to test out a fun example bot? Play this Facebook Ads Quiz (Opens in Messenger💬) https://m.me/thedigitalgal?ref=fbquiz
Those days are about to change.
It has taken Facebook some time to systematically restructure parts of their platform to allow for Facebook and Instagram conversations to blend.
Did you notice that on September 29, 2020 Facebook announced that they are connecting Facebook Messenger and Instagram? That’s right! Users will be able to message each other across platforms.
Blending the apps means blending the policies. Now the legacy Facebook Platform Policy and Instagram Platform Policy have been replaced with the new Platform Terms that encompasses both, effective August 31, 2020.
This opens up the opportunity for Messenger Marketing Chatbots to come to Instagram!
The app even got a new look and logo to accompany the change.
How Shopping Is Driving The Conversation
Facebook isn’t just opening up chatbots on the platform for fun. It integrates with a bigger plan with shopping at the forefront. Can you spot any trends in this timeline?
Facebook Announces Marketplace
October 3, 2016 – Enabling people to buy & sell locally, with more than 450 million people already visiting buy and sell groups each month.
Facebook Expands Marketplace To Include Businesses
June 4, 2018 – Businesses can now advertise in Marketplace, alongside local listings and limited business listings.
Instagram Announces Shopping Features in Instagram Stories and Explore
September 17, 2018 – Shop on Instagram Stories through product stickers in Stories.
Instagram Introduces Checkout
March 19, 2019 – Buy a product, checkout without leaving Instagram.
ManyChat adds Email & SMS marketing
Sept 14, 2019 – Omni-channel marketing intersects with Messenger. Communicate with subscribers outside of the 24hr rule with SMS and Email options now integrated in ManyChat.
Facebook Pay is announced
November 12, 2019 – “a convenient, secure and consistent payment experience across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.”
Facebook Shops Announced + Live shopping features
May 19, 2020 – Set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram.
ManyChat Announces Enhanced Shopify Integration
June 18, 2020 – ManyChat rolls out even more Shopify integration features.
Instagram Shop, a new destination in Explore
July 16, 2020 – Shops: an immersive full screen experience from a business’s Instagram profile or through Feed and Stories. In-app shopping destination in Instagram starts public testing in the United States.
Announcing More Access to Checkout on Instagram
August 25, 2020 – Rolling out to all eligible U.S. business and creator accounts with a Shop.
Facebook Cross-Platform Messaging Announced
September 29, 2020 – Facebook & Instagram users will be able to message across both platforms.
Facebook: The Future Of Messaging Is Now
October 13, 2020 – New logo & look for Messenger rolls out with new features.
ManyChat and Instagram Partnership Is Here!
October 19, 2020 – Facebook gives ManyChat early access to the Messenger API support for Instagram.
Between Facebook Pay, Shoppable posts, Facebook and Instagram Shops, Marketplace, Checkout, Live Shopping and a myriad of other shopping features, it is clear to see that Facebook has been systematically integrating and improving the on-platform shopping experience in the last 4 years.
Apps like ManyChat help drive conversions that lead to more transactions. It is in both Facebook’s best interest as well as ManyChat’s to create a seamless user experience that is as far from spammy as possible.
Speaking of Transactions … Next, Ads Come Into Play
Running ads across both Facebook and Instagram is done all under one roof using Facebook’s Ads Manager.
Ads that lead to a Chatbot Conversation have been tricky when running ads on Instagram that open into Facebook Messenger. It hasn’t been the smoothest user experience. Now with Messenger and Instagram messaging blending, it will be an easier transition to continue the customer conversation with messenger marketing chatbots across both platforms.
Why Is It So Important To Stay Current With Messenger Marketing Chatbots?
Chatbots aren’t going away. In fact, they’re growing by leaps and bounds and your business will be left behind if you don’t take steps to embrace this technology along with the omni-channel approach of built in email and SMS features.
We have seen the same thing with businesses who ignored Facebook advertising until they realized they needed it while being eclipsed by their competition who figured it out earlier.
Facebook ads used to be as simple as clicking a button, putting $20 on a post, and getting massive results rolling back in. That’s no longer the case. Year over year new features have been added on to the Ads platform along with a flood of advertisers making it a game of snakes and ladders to keep up with the changes. Getting into Facebook advertising now can be completely overwhelming. (That’s why I created the 4 Week Facebook Ads Bootcamp to make it easier!)
The barrier to entry for messenger marketing chatbots is low right now. It is inexpensive with a free account, or upgrade to Pro for $10 a month to use all of the features. It is drag and drop user-friendly for building your own chatbot. There are hundreds of free resources to help you learn, and trust me, learning with the help of a few videos and articles is much easier than ignoring it for the next 5 years and having to hire out an expensive agency to do the work for you.
What can you do to get started now?
I highly recommend getting familiar with existing chat marketing technology now, before the learning curve continues to grow once Instagram messaging is added to the mix and opened up to business owners and marketers.
- Set up a ManyChat account for free here: https://manychat.com/
- Connect it to your Facebook Business Page.
- Set up your Greeting Text in Settings.
- Get familiar with setting up a Flow (conversations) and have some fun with it! Try adding text blocks, images, videos, audio files, PDF files, GIF’s, Cards and all of the drag and drop features just to get creative with the possibilities.
- Learn the basic rules for sending out messages, such as the 24 hour messaging window.
Resources to help you learn:
- The ManyChat Community Facebook Group
- Chapter 8 of the Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing, “Leverage Chatbots and Automation”
- Learn how to do your own Facebook Ads.
- Check out Kelly Noble Mirabella’s Baby Got Bot YouTube channel where you can feast on all of the features, updates, training, and everything you need to know about getting started with Chatbots.
Have Fun and Play By The Rules
Get creative, make your own test bots, have friends test them too, and see what business opportunities make sense for you with Messenger Marketing.
Still need help with Chatbots? I’ve got your back. You can book a 1-on-1 session and I’ll help you do it step by step.
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The Digital Gal
Amanda Robinson is The Digital Gal. She is widely recognized in the digital marketing industry for her knowledge, training, skills and coaching as a Facebook Ads expert with her Swift Kick In the Ads Membership, her 4 Week Facebook Ads Training Bootcamp, and for her creative chatbot skills. She is an author, international speaker, consultant, and educator who has taught thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs the foundational skills of Facebook Ads. Amanda brings personality and passion to teaching others how to make Facebook ads work for them!