The Future of Facebook Messenger with Chat Bots

Passive income experts joke about making “SWISS” dollars. In other words, “Sales While I Sleep Soundly.”

What if you could answer customer questions 24/7, serve relevant content on demand, and generate leads while you slept too?

Enter Facebook Chat bots.

In 2016, Facebook introduced bot functionality during its new Messenger Platform launch. While initial adoption of Facebook bots has been slow, chatbot development is on the rise.

“There are now 100,000 bot developers who have built 100,000 active bots on the Messenger Platform. That’s up 233% from the 30,000 bots on Messenger six months after its launch in April 2016.”

What do Facebook bots do and how can they benefit businesses in the future?

Facebook Messenger Chat Bot

What Exactly Is a Chat Bot?

Bots are computer programs that can automate tasks. Chat bots mimic conversations with a real person.

Cutting-edge brands are trying to use bots in creative ways, but all have the same goal. Automate customer service and engagement with an on-demand, personalized user experience.

For instance, Fandango’s Facebook Messenger bot provides movie-goers with information like movie times and theater locations. The Fandango bot sends links to movie trailers too.

So, what could Facebook chat bots do for your business? Here are some conversations and transactions that bots can handle within the Messenger app:

  1. Answer a prospect’s most frequently asked business questions
  2. Direct a prospect to a blog post based on a chat conversation
  3. Help customers find products on your website
  4. Allow users to buy products and send payment through Messenger

Why Use Bots on Facebook?

Facebook bots help businesses meet prospects and customers where they already are. Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform after all.

And as of April 2017, Facebook Messenger has 1.2 billion users! Given Facebook’s reach, why wouldn’t a business want to leverage this giant user base?

More importantly, your prospects don’t want to download yet another app. So, engaging customers through Facebook Messenger reduces technology fatigue, creating a better user experience.

With Facebook Messenger chat bots, customers don’t even need to leave that experience to learn about you. Prospects can take advantage of your offers within Messenger too.

This makes chat bots an ideal way to reach millennials. More young people prefer to engage companies via social media than through all other communication channels.

Brands that provide seamless user experiences in prospects’ native apps will have the highest conversion rates.

What’s New with Facebook Chat Bots?

Recently at a Facebook’s F8 conference, the company released Messenger Platform 2.0. This new release has updated capabilities for bots.

Ahead of the new feature announcements, Messenger CEO David Marcus revealed Facebook’s motivations. The company wants Messenger to be “the new social living room for the world, where people can hang out, share, chat, play games or buy things, while being able to reach nearly everyone, wherever they are.”

Many of Facebook’s partners are following suit with bots. Brands like Spotify, MasterCard, and Western Union announced new bots for the Messenger app during F8 too.

As for new bot features explained during the F8 conference, here are 3 worth highlighting:

  1. Enhanced bot discovery. Developers can apply to feature their bots in a discovery section within the Messenger home screen. This tab will display relevant and recently used bots. It’s been a challenge for many businesses to get discovered in Facebook Messenger. This update will increase visibility.
  2. Auto-responses to business FAQs. If a business has a Facebook Pages profile, the app can communicate with the company’s bot. The bot can then provide standard information like business hours to customers.
  3. Chat extensions for content. Once a user chats with a bot, the bot can provide content that’s relevant to the conversation they are having. Once clicked, the content appears in a web view. Users can also share content in conversation with others in the Messenger app.

What’s Realistic Now for Facebook Bots?

Though F8 promised some exciting developments, Facebook has a PR hurdle to jump with bots in 2017.

The hype is real with bots and some companies learned that the hard way in 2016. Bot development has some maturing to do before brands realize benefits and profits.

In February 2017, a report revealed that bots on Facebook could only take care of user requests 30% of the time. For the remaining 70% of questions, bots needed to direct people to real humans for help.

And regardless of the platform, some companies have over-complicated bot development.

For instance, Microsoft’s Tay (a Twitter bot) tried to get too clever with conversation to disastrous effect.

Machine learning is not advanced enough yet for open-ended dialog. It’s best to have bots answer common questions for now.

Many businesses have also struggled to find the right scenarios that help customers. When engagement use cases are too broad, this is where bots fail.

That doesn’t mean chat bots aren’t worth the time and investment, given the right circumstances.

One realistic application for bots right now? Facebook ads.

Businesses can surface relevant, personalized ads to users within the Messenger app. And Facebook advertising helps you reach very targeted segments.

Where Should Businesses Go From Here?

Machine learning needs to mature a lot before it revolutionizes the digital marketing landscape. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting in the game now.

Companies that are succeeding with bots consider the 80/20 rule: “the most common 20% of questions are asked 80% of the time. This makes a chatbot an excellent candidate to automate recurring customer service tasks and replies.”

If you decide to try Facebook Messenger bots, you should consider:

  1. Joining helpful communities like Chat bot’s Life, a public Facebook group. You could also find bot developers there.
  2. Going into the experiment with realistic expectations.
  3. Narrowing your use case so you’re delivering real value to your customers.
  4. Keeping it simple. Bots can’t handle open-ended conversations yet.

Summing It Up

While you’re testing the waters with new technology, don’t forget about today’s best ways to convert prospects into customers.

Conversions won’t happen unless prospects can find your website easily. You need to ask yourself, “How strong is my website’s digital marketing strategies?”

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Owner and Chief Strategist of four companies, Jason and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry. With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

About the author...

Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast - Destin, FL, founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry.

With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

Jason Hall 5Channels.com

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