Facebook today formally launches a new suite of tools for its 40 million active businesses on Messenger, including booking agreements, lead generation and others announced earlier this year at the F8 Developer Conference. As part of these changes, Facebook will also begin phasing out the Discover tab in Messenger – a feature that became home to both games and businesses after last fall's redesign.
Today, Facebook says the Discover tab will be pulled from the Messenger app in the next few months. Instead, it will invest in ensuring that Facebook users are instructed to interact with businesses through Messenger in other ways.
"We want to make it more seamless for people to reach businesses on Messenger in places where they already look to connect, Facebook explains about its decision to kill the Discover feature." We want to invest more in tools for connecting people and businesses ̵
When it comes to the new business tools, the lead generation product will be launched as a Facebook Template Messenger template this week, enabling businesses to create automated experiences to qualify for potential Messenger customers, then continue in-app conversations or integrate with existing CRM tools to further track leads.  The feature has been in beta after F8, but will now be publicly available.
Order bookings were also announced on F8, but are first launched now to beta with select developers and companies. This feature allows businesses to accept appointment requests and make real-time bookings through Messenger. It also integrates with existing calendar booking software, and can help Messenger conversations turn into store traffic as well as online and phone appointments, the company said.
The feature will be launched globally for all developers later this year.
Another update mentioned today involves plans to launch improved event reporting in Messenger later this year, which will allow businesses to report and track their Messenger conversations.
Plus, Facebook says it updates the Standard Messaging window for businesses to 24 hours (which is how long they have to respond to customer inquiries.) This brings it in line with WhatsApp's window.
After 24 hours, businesses can still use sponsored messages to engage customers and message brands (e.g., purchase updates, event reminders, changes to their account, and now in closed beta, "human agent", which allows agents to respond to issues that need resolution after the default message window closes.)
Messenger's beta subscription beta program is changing today as well.
It will now be limited to "controlled news organizations." This was because some companies use the feature in violation of Facebook's guidelines, the company admitted. The feature is designed to send regular news updates to subscribers. The timing of this change is somewhat interesting, as Facebook is preparing to relaunch efforts to contain top news on the social network, this time controlled by journalists and containing content Facebook pays for. Here there is room for some interoperability between the news product and subscription / updates, but it is not clear whether or how it will happen.
Of course, the biggest Messenger consumer news from F8 – a desktop app for Mac and PC – has yet to happen, but is expected once a year.