From Spammy to Spectacular: How to Use Facebook Messenger Chatbots

Messenger Chatbots open up a whole new opportunity for brands and consumers to communicate on a one-to-one basis.

Published On: October 23, 20177 min readCategories: Blog, SEO

First things first, If you’re looking for guidelines on technical implementation of a bot, this is not the blog for you.  There are numerous “how to build a bot” blogs out there that can guide you through the process and I will list the one I’ve found particularly helpful at the bottom. Instead, this blog is intended to solve a particular problem I’ve noticed surrounding Chatbots: the lack of specific business application We know the importance of engaging with consumers on a personal level, so why aren’t we seeing more chatbots? Two reasons.

  1. The first being the most obvious, which is the technical difficulty. Building a robot sounds intimidating but it’s actually not that difficult, I promise.
  2. The second comes as a surprise to many marketers who have thousands of ideas mulling around in their head at any given point. Many brands don’t understand the value and are left wondering “how do I make a chatbot work for me and my business?“  

What exactly are Facebook Messenger Chatbots?

As marketers, we’ve heard it all before. “Great –  another way for marketers to inundate me with more advertising” Wrong. When you have a question, do you look to your phone or computer for the answer? Facebook Messenger happens to be one of the fastest growing messaging platforms in today’s modern world. Combining the two seems like a no-brainer, don’t you agree?

Growth of Facebook Messenger – via TechCrunch

Messenger Chatbots open up a whole new opportunity for brands and consumers to communicate on a one-to-one basis.

Chatbot is short form for chat robot. It can be powered by keywords & scripts or artificial intelligence (AI). It is the quickest way for brands to engage with their consumers while quietly guiding them towards a specific goal.

What is the purpose of using a chatbot?

Shival Gupta, an author on Medium, took the challenge of building a bot in 2 hours (his findings should put minds at ease in terms of how quickly he made it happen). He identified the following guidelines for justifying the use of a bot:

  • If performing a task took longer than 2 steps on UI, chatbots provided a much better user experience.
  • Places in the UI where the task was just a simple search and tap, chatbots seemed redundant.
  • In summary: Whether you write a UI or a chatbot, it doesn’t really matter. The user will come to your solution only if it saves time.

This very thought process is the concept that has so many brands scratching their heads. Do I have use for a bot in my business?

Why should brands be using Facebook Messenger Chatbots?

User Journey. You will hear us refer to this time and time again on the blog. What is the user journey? This concept is glossed over all too often but is probably the most important component of a strong digital campaign. Google has developed an entire advertising ecosystem to best reflect a user’s journey as it varies from person to person. Knowing that there is no singular way that a user will engage with a brand, it has become crucial to develop those various touch points.

A recent study by Twilio revealed that 9 out of 10 consumers want to engage with brands through Messenger but only 1 in 5 businesses are equipped to do so.

Mobile Messaging Trends – Via Twilio

There Are Two Kinds of Bots

If we know that consumers want to engage with brands over messenger, what options are available to do just that? A brand can leverage Messenger Bots in two very different ways – organically or within a paid campaign. In this blog, we will focus solely on the organic side and speak to using Messenger in paid campaigns in a future post.

Organic Chatbots

A bot can be created with the sole intention of appearing organically using Facebook’s various organic channels. An organic bot does not require any paid support but instead relies on category (for search), artificial intelligence, the algorithm & Facebook’s staff. Alternatively, the bot can be configured within the Facebook page itself, or on external web properties.

Facebook Messenger Discovery – Via TechCrunch

Facebook continues to introduce new advanced features to organically amplify the use of bots. The new bot discovery tab acts as a launch point for users interested in exploring the bots brands are serving up. As of right now, the algorithm favors high engagement but Facebook’s staff have a say in what appears here also. Facebook says to “think of them as an “Editor’s Pick” approach”  

Facebook Messenger Bot Discovery – Via TechCrunch

Chat extensions were released April allowing bots to be used collaboratively within group chats. For example, a group chat of friends planning a trip together could use a travel bot to finalize their transportation or a checklist bot to delegate who is bringing what.   AI bot recommendations from “M” have begun testing by scanning conversations to recommend applicable Messenger bot features. Imagine chatting with your friend about seeing a movie, and Messenger recommends the Cineplex bot to view times and purchase tickets.

M Suggestions – Via Fortune

Use Cases for Chatbots

Coming back to what Shival Gupta said: the user will come to your solution only if it saves time. Taking into consideration the mindset of a user within Messenger. Chatting with friends is either a source of entertainment or a means of gathering or organizing information. Bots can be designed to replicate both of those desires for a variety of business types.

Restaurants & Hospitality

At NAV43 and our parent company, Navigate Group, we are experts in hospitality. You could say we really eat it up… see what I did there? Joking aside, food & hospitality are excellent industries for digital and messenger bots. Here are three examples of ways in which they can use Facebook Messenger bots to streamline their processes and get more customers.

  1. Book a Reservation; streamline your reservation process by having your bot manage the bookings. Sync with your reservation management tool to ensure everyone knows who will be dining when.

    Opentable Messenger Bot – Via Opentable

    OpenTable recently released their own bot, allowing restaurant seekers to find and book reservations without ever leaving Messenger.

  2. Organize a Large Party; asking the same 5 questions for every group booking? Have the bot manage the conversation and document responses in a Google Docs for quick sharing.
  3. Communicate Specials; do you get a lot of phone calls asking about weekly specials? Direct the conversation to your trusty bot who can provide all the details.

SaaS Technologies

There is no shortage of software as a service these days, solving people’s problems around every corner. Messenger bots are an excellent way for SaaS based companies to build a base of highly engaged lifelong users.

  1. Onboarding; at times user acquisition isn’t the challenge, it’s engagement and retention once you’ve got them on board. Create an interactive onboarding experience for new users by having your helpful bot walk them through the process.
  2. Resource Guides; it can seem like the problem a user is having is unique and the provided resource guides don’t apply. Let the user explain their problem to your bot and handpick the recommended resource guides. Pro Tip: integrate your YouTube video guides into the process – video always does better!
  3. Schedule Demos; give users the kind of streamlined experience that eliminates any opportunity for doubt. Once they find your brand, keep them engaged by allowing them to interactively book a demo with your bot.

Market WITH people, not AT them

As we progress into one of the most advanced times for marketers and brands, it is crucial to shift thinking away from marketing AT and start to market WITH. Seth Godin spoke to this shift in a recent blog post. Using the innovative tools, such as Messenger bots, that continue to emerge in the world of marketing, brands can start to develop strategies that add value to the lives of consumers. Only then will the sales follow. Have you tried creating a bot for your business?   Recommended Technical Implementation Guides: So You Want to Build a Chat Bot – Here’s How (Complete with Code!)