This week Facebook launched their Messenger Platform (beta) for Facebook Messenger at the F8 Conference on April 12 and 13. Now with over 900 million monthly users, the Messenger Platform is a major step in the world of social to allow businesses to engage new and existing audiences in a one to one manner or at scale. Without going into too much detail, the new Messenger Platform will allow businesses and developers to build bots (chatbots and conversational apps).
So, why is this important? At Edelman, we spend a huge portion of our digital efforts helping organizations converse with their customers and stakeholders in social networks, apps and websites. Just as when Facebook invented “Facebook tabs” to build mini-versions of your website within the Facebook interface, they are now betting people would rather use the consistent interface of Messenger to interact with an organization instead of a proprietary website, app, call center, email, etc. The opportunity for distribution and engagement is unique but inherently social – as I recently described in “The Upcoming Social Media Evolution of Chatbots and Conversational App.”
Additionally, a few important key facts about Messenger were announced during F8 that include:
In order to understand chatbots, it’s best to interact with them. Message these bots (say “Hi”) to experience it yourself:
So, where should businesses and brands begin? It is all about distribution and interaction and bots will focus on three key consumer experiences: Content Interaction, Customer Service and Productivity (including commerce). There are several technologies like MSG.ai, DigitalGenius and Assist for conversational commerce or social customer service and technologies like BetterBrand, which focus more on “Chat Marketing” through engaging and interactive content.
Here are six ideas and concepts to consider when getting started:
For now, all of this is opt-in. While there is the potential for mass distribution, assume marketing your bot will be similar to SMS or email acquisition strategies. Users have to find your bot through links, posts or ads and send a message (opt-in) before your bot can work its magic. It is important to note that users can block all messages or sponsored messages, so avoid too many sharing messages or it will come off as spam. Sponsored messages are currently being tested with a small group and will likely launch later this year.
Adam Hirsch is an executive vice president with Edelman Digital.