When ManyChat’s founder saw me at the Conversations Conference, he beamed and told me, “You have the top posts about the conference in our Facebook group.

In this post, I’ll cover the top 2 changes he referred to…in depth.

Then I’ll give you the big picture so you know what this means.

Read on to see what ManyChat announced.

BIG Change #1: You can send text messages

Huge excitement because now we can send text message.

You can now send SMS messages (which most of us just call “text messages”) from ManyChat.

That means…

…if you have something to send that doesn’t fall within Facebook’s terms of service, you can text it.

…if a specific reader isn’t opening up Messenger messages, you can trigger a text message instead.

…you now have an easy way to send text messages based on triggers. (Did a person register for an event? Trigger a text reminder. Did someone add something to cart, but didn’t buy? Trigger a text to ask them to complete. Etc.)

Top questions people had about this at the conference:

1. Is it working now?

Yup. But give them time to find bugs and fix them.

I watched Nick Julia spend loads of time with ManyChat’s top developer to understand why he couldn’t send a text message to himself. After a lot of trial and error, they discovered the way Nick formatted his phone number caused an error.

2. Do I have to pay per message?

Yes. Their prices are low, but if you want even lower prices, and are willing to tinker with integrations, you can use Twilio or other providers.

What you gain by having ManyChat send messages for you is tighter integration.

BIG Change #2: You can send email messages

You can send email from ManyChat, and soon other platforms too.

This announcement got less excitement, but it shows you the future ManyChat envisions. They want to enable you to send messages on every communication platform possible.

Now you can decide whether to send someone a Facebook message, a text message, or an email. You can even send all three, if you want.

What this means…

…businesses that didn’t want to give up email marketing, can see clearly that they can use email and chat together.

…if you want to send something to your members that falls outside of Facebook’s terms of service, you can now do it. (That includes sending sales messages, coupons and other marketing messages to people who haven’t interacted with your company in a while.)

…if someone hasn’t interacted with your chatbot in a while, you weren’t allowed to reach them in Messenger (unless you paid Facebook). Now you can send them an email that brings them back to your Messenger chat, which allows your bot to send them messages again.

Top questions people asked at the conference:

Can I stop using my main email provider?

If you’re using limited email marketing, yes, you can. But if you’re an advanced email user, you should wait.

A few people at the conference saw their email messages go into their email spam folders. No one I talked to could figure out a way to change the name in my email’s from field. These are basic issues that every new email provider has to go through. They’ll figure it out, but it’ll take a little time.

Can I still use other email providers?

Yes. And they’ll work really well with ManyChat.

In fact, they announced a native integration with ActiveCampaign. And, as always, you can use Zapier to send email using any email provider you want. (We do that.)

The big picture: What you should take away from this

As you’ll see below, there were a lot of announcements. Under this image, I’ll talk about my big takeaway.

Lots of announcements but one clear message: ManyChat will be about more than Messenger marketing.

The message I got from ManyChat is that they’re moving beyond Facebook…and we should too.

I’ve always hated being too connected to Facebook. Remember the time when Facebook stopped allowing new businesses to send chat messages?

They have a history of helping businesses grow, but also of being hard to depend on.

Now we don’t have to.

We can send text messages. We can send email. Soon, we’ll be able to use Apple’s super-popular iMessage. (ManyChat is working on that.)

I’m not saying we should move past Facebook. Neither is ManyChat. In fact, they want to allow you to send messages using Facebook’s other brands, too: WhatsApp & Instagram.

But each of those messaging platforms will be just one channel.

Just as people use different chat apps to message each other, businesses will use different chat apps to reach their customers.