Following the updates to Instagram and Messenger that delivered cross-app communication and other features, Facebook today announced its Messenger API has also been updated to allow businesses to manage their communications across Instagram, in addition to Messenger .
Before today, businesses could only respond to customer inquiries through the Instagram app and through Facebook’s unified business inbox. This could work for some smaller businesses, but for larger brands with a high volume of messages, it could be difficult to be efficient this way.
The update means businesses will be able to now also integrate Instagram messaging into the applications and workflows they’re already using in-house to manage their Facebook conversations. Specifically, they’ll be able to use rich media — like photos, URL links and more — and work with developers to integrate the API with their product and customer databases to provide the same experience on Instagram as they do today on Messenger.
For example, a business with a CRM system integration would be able to view the customer loyalty information and take that into account when they respond.
Businesses using the API can also manage their Instagram presence, including their Profile, Shops and Stories, Facebook says.
The change comes at a time when Instagram is pushing Shopping as a core activity on Instagram, and follows the launch of Instagram shops and visual changes to the app to highlight shopping features.
According to Facebook, daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram combined grew more than 40% over the last year.
With the launch of the new API, Facebook is also introducing new features on Instagram that will allow businesses to respond immediately to common questions using automation, while still offering to connect customers to live support, if needed. An alpha test with partner Clarabridge on this feature indicated that client brands improved response rates on Instagram by up to 55% by managing DMs through its platform.
The updated Messenger API is launching into beta testing with businesses like Adidas, Amaro, Glossier, H&M, MagazineLuiza, Michael Kors, Nars, Sephora and TechStyle Fashion Group, among other consumer brands. The beta is also open to a limited number of developer partners. Today, other businesses and developers can join a waitlist to request access to the API post-beta.
Cross-app communication, a key part of the recent Instagram and Messenger update, is not available in the API at launch, however. For now, the messages will appear on a brand’s Messenger or Instagram tab depending on from where their customers are messaging. However, Facebook confirmed it plans to “eventually” bring cross-app communication to businesses and developers in a later update.