Why Messenger Bots are the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing
You can tell that a technology platform is starting to take off when someone figures out how to make money with it. For Messenger, that happened when Facebook figured out how to take payments from within Messenger. That’s kinda a big deal because the whole point of Messenger is to keep people in, duh, Messenger.
Before Messenger figured out payments, you had to go to an external website to buy things. That was a big problem for the 30,000 or so bots on Messenger. So this is a big deal. High fives all around to the Messenger team.
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What Exactly Is a Bot?
I like to split bots into two basic types. The first is Artificial Intelligence (AI) based (think Amazon Alexa) and the second is Automated Help (AH) based (like automated phone systems).
AI-based bots use natural language processes of either text or voice to figure out what the user wants. The classic example is asking Alexa to play the latest news or start a kitchen timer. The computing horsepower and skill required to deploy such bots is beyond the average content marketer even if you have CS degree.
AH-based bots are more like your automated phone system where you press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer support, press 0 for a human, etc. This type is more lists of menus with some AI to recognize voice commands. Implementing these types of bots is a lot easier. There are platforms, like ChatClub, that automate a lot of the development. More on that later.
Why Have a Bot?
Bots are starting to get more attention because of the way people are hanging out online. The first is the rise of bots that are getting funding to develop the AI to make things like Alexa work. The second is that Facebook Messenger has 1 Billion users. This is amazing considering 3 people built the first revision.
What’s even more telling is that the app boom seems to be over. Most mobile users are not downloading apps anymore. Most online users spend all their time using applications like WhatsApp, Messenger, and SnapChat.
This means that brands will have a new genre in which to engage with their fans, especially on Facebook. That engagement platform will be on mobile via some sort of messaging app.
Some Bots to Pay Attention to
Facebook has about 30,000 bots that brands are using to reach out to customers and fans. CB Insights did a post on the top 51 corporate bots to pay attention too. It’s a pretty good list that I stole from for my list below:
- Domino’s Pizza Bot: place an order and track it so it gets to you in under 30 minutes. Oh wait; they stopped doing that back when I still had a mullet.
- Wall Street Journal: you can subscribe to different news feeds and even get up to the minute news. You can even get stock prices. Pretty cool for a old school newspaper.
- 1-800-Flowers: This bot as an example of how cool it is that you will never have to dial 1-800-Flowers to buy flowers again. It’s pretty slick.
- NBA: this bot is for all you stats junkies that want to know all things NBA. The commands are natural language like “When was Kobe Bryant Drafted?” Although if you want more details stats, it punts you to the NBA’s website. Gotta work on that guys.
- Lazyset: I’m always on Spotify looking for new things to listen. It can be a pain to figure out. Enter Lazyset. This bot will do a custom mix for you and put it right in your Spotify account. It actually works well. Can’t wait till Yelp gets a bot to help with “where to go to lunch if I’m into Chinese but don’t really want Chinese.”
- MemeGenBot: this bot will make a meme for you to share among all your fans that can’t get enough meme’s. Enough said.
- GrowthBot: comes from the guys over at HubSpot. It helps you with all your sales and marketing growth needs. It’s pretty darn useful and worth checking out. Lots of nifty natural language stuff that is an AI programmers nirvana.
You’ll notice that some of these bots are new and don’t have many followers. I think that’s a sign of how new chatbots are. This gives content marketers an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.
Getting Started with Your Own Chatbot
Even though I have a technical background and know my way around a text editor or two, bots kinda scare me. The reason is that it takes some smarts to get the menus right and connect to Messenger. Thankfully, I found a pretty simple platform that takes care of all the plumbing so that you don’t have to.
ChatClub is a chatbot platform for Messenger that takes 5 minutes to set up. No need to hire a slew of developers, AI experts or UI designers. Go to https://chatclub.me/. Connect your Facebook Messenger account (you can select which page), and get going. Once setup, you can start group chats, multiplayer quizzes, and music streams. Those are just a few of the growing list of features that ChatClub offers all for free.
Take a look at my first attempt for my The Daily MBA’s Facebook Page. It took about 5 minutes to set up and about 30 minutes for me to get all the photos cropped via Canva. While you’re there, why not like my page? I would appreciate it. You can tell I need some Facebook love :).
Some Things to Keep in Mind about Bots
Like all new technology, you need to be cautious that said technology is used for good and not evil. No one wants another pop-up ad that annoyed every single human on the Internet. He was even forced to apologize. No we don’t want that.
What we do want is something that enhances the user experience and makes it a lot easier for fans to interact. To achieve this, I present to you the prime directives for chatbots as I see them.
Prime Directive #1: A bot must not annoy
Prime Directive #2: A bot must obey instructions unless it violates the 1st directive
Prime Directive #3: A bot must be helpful unless it violates the 1st directive
What this means for chatbot developers is the following. Repeat after me:
- Your bot shall be way better than those annoying phone trees that I yell “Customer Service” at.
- Your bot shall make it easy for a fan to get what they need and nothing else.
- Your bot shall not be so complicated that it takes a million menus to do something.
- Your bot shall do a few things stellar and leave the rest to humans or your website.
There, that was not so bad now was it. Now, go forth and create greatness.
Are Bots Really the Next Apps?
Chatbots are the future of online and particularly mobile interactions. Gone are the days of downloading tons and tons of apps that clog up your phone. Now, you can stay in one app and get everything done.
One person that believes that bots are the next apps is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He declared bots the new apps, and the “next big thing.” I’m not sure I agree with him but we are at the beginning of a new way for brands to deliver content to their fans. Only time will tell if bots will take over apps. One thing is for sure — the AI that is the brains behind bots will continue to get better and better. I hope so. It’s frustrating when Alexa thinks I want to listen to the latest Tibetan chants when I don’t.
BIO: Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He has over 20 years of experience bring innovative products to market. Some of them include Bluetooth, USB, RFID, Semiconductor DNA sequencing, and SaaS for Healthcare. You can read his thoughts on management, marketing, and entrepreneurship via his blog or follow him on Twitter.
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