Facebook Direct Messages Involving Bots

Bots that can send automated messages to common inquiries can be a great help in customer service. For example, they can send consistent answers, relieve pressure off your customer service team, and categorize conversations according to subject.

Through a handover protocol, Social Media Management supports these kinds of automated bots. The handover protocol handles the three-way interaction between a bot, your customer, and your customer service team.

This article helps you understand how the handover protocol works, how you can set it up, and how you can work with it in Social Media Management .

Intro to the Handover Protocol

If your company uses a chatbot to handle Facebook Direct Message (DM) conversations, there are three parties involved in one conversation: you, your customer, and the bot.

The handover protocol takes care of who controls the conversation. This ensures that the bot won’t send messages while you were planning to send a message of your own, and that you won’t get distracted by conversations you won’t need to act on.

At any time, you can either take control or rather release control. At other times, the bot might automatically hand over control to you based on its programming. The customer can still always send messages and won’t be notified of any changes in control.

The protocol also makes sure that you can identify when you are in control of a conversation, or when another tool is. The answers that any third party sends are clearly differentiated from your own replies and you’ll get notified when control is handed over to you.


The handover protocol is always in effect, even if you do not use a bot. Any Facebook direct message conversation can be responded to by any type of third party, be it a bot, a human agent natively on Facebook, or any third-party tool similar to Social Media Management. The protocol will manage control among all these entities as described in this article.

Configuring a Chatbot for Handover Protocol

All chatbots compatible with Facebook are also compatible with Social Media Management's handover protocol. The configuration described below applies universally to all bot software. It must be configured for each individual Facebook page on which a bot is handling incoming DMs. Here’s how you set it up:

  1. Navigate to your page on Facebook and navigate to Settings in the top right.
  2. Go to the section New Pages Experience > Advanced Messaging > App Settings > Messenger receiver > Configure.mceclip0.png
  3. For Primary Receiver for Handover Protocol, select your chatbot application.screenshot-www.facebook.com-2022.03.18-15_20_48.png

Next to the above primary receiver status in Facebook, your chatbot tool should be configured as follows:

  • Respond to any incoming messages with at least a delay of 1 second.
  • Allow control to be released after the bot finishes a conversation.
  • Automatically and immediately hand control over to other tools (such as Social Media Management) when control is requested.

Conversations handled by a chatbot can appear in Social Media Management as either read or unread content. By default, any conversation that is completely handled by a bot will appear marked as read. You can change this by configuring your bot to automatically hand over control to Social Media Management after it finishes a conversation. The conversation will then appear as unread in Engage.

Using the Handover Protocol in Engage

Once your Facebook pages and your chatbot have been configured properly, you can use the handover protocol to coordinate between your bot and Social Media Management.

To illustrate the use of the protocol, here’s an example of a typical Facebook direct message conversation involving a chatbot:

  1. A customer sends you a direct message through one of your Facebook pages that has a chatbot active.
  2. The chatbot takes control of the conversation and sends an initial response.
  3. The customer sends a reply.
  4. The chatbot determines that a human agent should handle the conversation further and releases control of the conversation.
  5. The conversation appears as unread in Engage, ready for a Social Media Management user to take further handling actions.
  6. Once the conversation ends, the human agent can either release control manually and have the bot respond to any new messages again, or just leave the conversation and automatically release control after 24 hours.

While a chatbot has control of the conversation

  • Within Social Media Management, the conversation appears as read in Engage.
  • Your bot will reply to new messages in the conversation.
  • A small lock icon appears on the message in your feed, which indicates the control of your conversation is with your bot.mceclip7.png
  • In Detail View, any bot answers appear in green.mceclip3.png
  • At any time, you can manually take over from the bot by sending a message in the conversation, and thereby requesting control.

While you have control of the conversation

  • Any new messages in the conversation will appear as unread in Engage.
  • The conversation won’t be responded to by your bot and is expected to be handled by a human agent.
  • In Detail View, your own messages appear in blue and with your name underneath it.
  • At any time, you can release control of the conversation. If the conversation is idle for 24 hours, control is automatically released. In both cases, your bot will again answer any new messages in the thread by taking control of the conversation.mceclip8.png


Gaining control in a conversation is simply done by sending a message in the conversation. By sending a message, Social Media Management automatically ensures that you gain control. The only requirement is a correct configuration of your bot so it grants control requests automatically and immediately.


If I use a third-party bot tool, can I still use Social Media Management’s built-in automated messages?

We do not recommend using automated messages in Social Media Management in combination with any third-party bot tool. If conversations arrive unread in Social Media Management after a bot tool has released control, any Social Media Management automation will still send automated messages. Therefore, we recommend only using one automation tool at a time for all your automations.

Any internal automations in Social Media Management, such as automated assignment and labeling, can be used without issue in combination with a third-party bot tool.

I do not use a bot, why do I still see the handover protocol in each DM conversation?
The handover protocol is always in effect, even if you do not use a bot. Any Facebook direct message conversation can be responded to by any type of third party, be it a bot, a human agent natively on Facebook, or any third-party tool similar to Social Media Management. The protocol will manage control among all these entities as described in this article. If you do not use other tools alongside Social Media Management, a reason for the handover protocol to become active could be because another person is interacting with the same conversation directly on Facebook.
Does the Team Performance Report include conversations handled by a bot?

The Team Performance Report (TPR) will always include conversations handled by a bot in the total incoming messages count. If the bot handled a conversation from start to finish, no messages have been sent by a human agent in Social Media Management, so the TPR will not count any messages sent for that conversation. Similarly, if a bot handles the full conversation, no mark as read actions are counted either, since the message appeared and remained marked as read in Engage.

If a Social Media Management user takes control of the conversation, any actions by that user are of course included in the TPR from that point onwards, until the bot might take over the conversation again.

Why do I need to request control of the conversation in Social Media Management if I’m viewing the same conversation on Facebook natively?
The handover protocol also coordinates between Facebook natively and Social Media Management. It ensures that only one party can handle the conversation at a time, which avoids the potential of a mix-up.
What do the different message colors indicate in a conversation?
Each message type has its own color. A message or comment from a user is white, a written reply is blue, an automated reply is green, and an internal note is yellow.

Was this article helpful?
1 out of 1 found this helpful
Brandwatch Academy

The Brandwatch Academy is here

Access on-demand courses on the Brandwatch product suite, plus live events to enrich your knowledge.