If there’s one word to remember from Facebook’s virtual developers conference on Wednesday, it’s “messaging.”
Facebook made a flurry of announcements about new business messaging tools for developers, which Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s VP of platform partnerships, called “a key focus area.”
Mark Zuckerberg said much the same during Facebook’s most recent earnings call in April, when he highlighted business messaging, commerce, creators and AR and VR as top investment priorities with the potential to “change the trajectory of the company over the long term.”
If you couldn’t tune in, here are five of the top takeaways from this year’s F8 Refresh keynote.
1. Facebook’s Messenger API for Instagram is available to all developers
The Facebook Messenger API allows developers to build tools for sending and receiving messages at scale across platforms.
In October, Facebook started beta testing the Messenger API for Instagram with a small group of businesses. That API feature is now rolling out to businesses and developers globally so they can integrate Instagram messaging into their existing services and sales apps.
Messaging is becoming a more integral part of the shopping, discovery and customer service experience overall on Facebook apps. Facebook noted a 40% increase in conversations among people and businesses during the pandemic.
2. WhatsApp is getting more commerce functionality
Strengthening the link between messaging and commerce is a top priority for Facebook.
Late last year, Facebook introduced an add-to-cart feature to the WhatsApp Business app, a free app small businesses can use to communicate with customers and automate certain customer service tasks. The WhatsApp Business app is different from the regular WhatsApp app, which doesn’t include as many business-focused features.
Starting now, people will be able to browse and order a business’s products through the basic WhatsApp app. Down the line, the plan is to layer payments into the experience.
“We’re building tools to allow an end-to-end commerce journey to happen directly on WhatsApp,” said Ajit Varma, director of product management at WhatsApp.
3. Login Connect comes to Messenger
In the coming weeks, Facebook will integrate its login feature with Messenger so that people can opt in to messaging with a business when they first download an app and create their account.
After opening a newly downloaded app, logging in with Facebook and opting in to messaging, businesses will be able to contact people via Messenger and automatically apply coupons at checkout.
During testing, Facebook found that more than 70% of people opted in to messaging when presented with the option at login.
4. Research API coming soon
In non-messaging news, Facebook intends to create a Research API for the academic community.
Late last year, Facebook tussled with academic researchers over what it claimed was data scraping. Facebook demanded that researchers at New York University stop collecting data about its political ad targeting practices because, as Facebook put it in a letter, “scraping tools, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a permissible means of collecting information from us.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, herself condemned Facebook at the time for “making it harder for Americans to get information about online political ads.”
The new Research API will provide real-time access to public Facebook pages, groups and post-level data in the US in what Facebook claims is a “privacy protective environment.” The API will be available to the academic community later this year.
5. Facebook Marketing Partners no more
Last up, FMP is about to become FBP.
Facebook’s Marketing Partners program is made up of companies that Facebook vets and bestows with an official badge for their expertise in a certain area, whether that be campaign management, lead generation, community management, commerce, messaging, creative – there are a bunch of categories that go beyond just marketing.
In order to reflect this expanded scope, Facebook is planning to rename the program “Facebook Business Partners” and consolidate more solutions under that umbrella to make it easier for businesses to find partners and for partners to find developers.
More info on the new structure is coming in late June.