At this year’s F8 conference, Facebook unveiled a new vision for their Messenger app. The official F8 Messenger video explains it in more detail:
Messenger currently has around 900-million MAU (Monthly Active Users) from all corners of the globe, using the app to communicate to their friends, and around 50-million businesses active on Messenger. This makes it one of the most popular apps on iOS (behind apps like Clash of Clans and Angry Birds in terms of total downloads).
— Social Media London (@SocialMediaLond) January 28, 2016
In the last year Facebook have been developing and expanding the range of features that users can do on the Messenger app – including the introduction of stickers, GIFs and the ability for business pages to utilise the app to communicate with customers. At F8 however, they have revealed the ‘Messenger Platform Beta‘ that comes with Bots.
A Facebook bot is a piece of software accessible via the Messenger app that automates menial, daily tasks, such as ordering food, shopping, checking the weather or asking questions (that aren’t over complicated) such as ‘What makes a great snack?’.
— Matt Navarra ⭐️ (@MattNavarra) April 12, 2016
They have also partnered with companies such as Uber, so you’ll be able to book a taxi straight from the app.
As part of the new Messenger Platform, bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages—all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them. The Messenger Send/Receive API will support not only sending and receiving text, but also images and interactive rich bubbles containing multiple calls-to-action. – Facebook Newsroom
Who will use these bots?
In a nut shell, everyone who uses Messenger. These bots enhance the user experience and do something that a lot of apps don’t. Facebook made a point when they introduced the money transfer capabilities in Messenger, that they wanted to improve user communications without people having to leave the Messenger app and switch between multiple apps. These bots enable users to perform certain tasks without switching app – users simply have to search Messenger for the name of the Bot/company they want to ‘speak to’ and then open it in a new chat window.
There are approximately 1 billion messages sent between Messenger users and businesses each month and these bots remove barriers between both even further, making the user potential unreal.
Why will people use these bots?
Much like how Snapchat ghosts once took over Twitter, businesses will take to this new opportunity with gusto. There will be new plugins that companies will be able to add to their websites and link to in their social channels, which rather than open a new email or webpage, they will open a new chat with their bot in Messenger. Snapchat and Kik like codes will make appearances on collateral, much like QR codes could once be found in brochures and leaflets everywhere.
Businesses being able to complete conversations within Messenger will also make the customer journey smoother.
The only downside, however, may come from Messenger users themselves. If the Microsoft ChatBot taught us anything, it’s that people can be evil. Facebook’s bot’s will learn the more they interact with users and will learn what the appropriate responses are based on what people ask and whether or not the answers provided satisfy the query. While the bots will become more fluid, intuitive and accurate – there is also the risk they may become tainted.
The full list of bots (including those that have been announced but are not yet available) can be seen here.
Do you plan on using Facebook bots in the near future or incorporating them into your marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below!
[Featured image: Shutterstock]
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