When in 2016 Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of the Facebook messenger platform, it was the beginning of an era as this new service would enable businesses of all sizes to build custom Facebook bots in messenger. Shortly after the announcement, thousands of articles filled the tech and marketing space of the internet and each had its own view on the significance of an open messenger platform for businesses’ customer service teams.
All this interest is because Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users around the world. These are users who adopt Facebook Messenger as their primary communication channel.
This new platform offered by Facebook is enough to turn heads and raise eyebrows so the excitement is justified. The opportunity offered by the messenger platform is not fixed in stone but has many potentials and it is up to digital marketers and social media agencies to shape this as it will benefit them.
WHAT IS A BOT?
“Bot” is a term that generally describes any software that automates a task. Chatbots are an example that anyone can now build into Facebook messenger and they automate conversations. The special feature of chatbots on Facebook messenger is that they are created using Facebook’s wit.ai Bot Engine which has the ability to turn natural language into structured data.
This means the facebook bots are smarter and can not only parse and understand conversational language, but they can also learn from it. With each interaction, your bot gets smarter. This is a type of artificial intelligence and natural language interface is no stranger in chatbots but by opening up the messenger platform and providing developer tools like the bot engine, Facebook has simplified the task of building an intelligent bot.
WHY USE CHATBOTS?
An increasing number of people are turning to social media messaging including Facebook messenger to start up a dialogue with a business. This dialogue is in the form of questions and comments or complaints. As a business owner, the number of messages you receive is on the rise as your business grows and while they are a number of tools to help you manage these messages, it can get overwhelming sometimes. It is worst if your server goes down and your website can’t be reached because all the traffic will turn to your social media messenger and giving a timely response becomes difficult.
Facebook chatbots give you the opportunity to automate responses to the most frequently asked questions by your customers. Questions like “what is your return policy” and “in which colors are these available” help you free up your customer service to attend to more serious issues, and allows you give a timely response to everyone.
However, the major reasons why you should use a chatbot are:
- Chatbots make it highly probable that messages are opened because each time a message is sent, your audience’s phones buzz and they check the notification immediately. Chatbots have an 80 – 90% open rate.
- Properly designing the bot makes chats more interesting and fun to read. Integrating GIF’s, videos, interactive buttons, etc. are good ways to keep people’s attention
- Chat messages are easy for people to unsubscribe from when compared to email. This full control given to users makes this more endearing.
- According to research by App Annie, unless you are above 45 emails are used less than messaging apps. This gives you access to an entire generation easily.
HOW PEOPLE FIND BOTS IN FACEBOOK MESSENGER
After getting a good knowledge of the benefits of using a bot, the next question usually is if users find you. The answer in all sincerity is maybe. Users search for companies and bots on Facebook messenger using the name so you will get some users this way. But just like every other part of business, you have to create awareness through ads. The use of ads will make your customer base aware of this new communication channel that is available. Facebook has a few tools and updates to help you easily connect with your customer base:
1 . MESSENGER LINKS
If you have a Facebook business page, messenger links will use your page’s username to create a short link. When a user clicks that link, it will open up a conversation with your business messenger regardless of the page the person is.
2. CUSTOMER MATCHING
If you have the phone numbers of your customers and you have permission to reach them, you can find them on Facebook messenger through customer matching. Conversations started through customer matching will include a final opt-in upon the first Facebook messenger chat.
3. MESSENGER CODES
Messenger codes are unique images that serve as a visual thumbprint for your business and bot on messenger. These visual cues act in the same way as Snapchat codes in case you are familiar with those and they redirect anyone who scans them using messenger to the appropriate page or bot.
4 . MESSENGER BUTTONS
These buttons are provided by Facebook and you can embed them into your website. Doing this will enable anyone who clicks on them to start a messenger chat with your company’s Facebook account.
Everything here happens with or without a bot so if you do not have a bot, it will be a standard messenger communication and you will have to monitor the channel always.
EXAMPLES OF BRANDED FACEBOOK MESSENGER BOTS
Having written definitions of bots are useful in their own way, but it helps some times to understand the working of a bot practically. Here are a few early examples:
1 . 1 – 800 – FLOWERS
In Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote, he gave an example of the efficiency of the bot using the ability to send flowers from 1 – 800 – flowers without having to call the 1 – 800 number. A user by the name Danny Sullivan tried it by sending flowers to Zuckerberg himself. The bot took Sullivan through a few floral choices and then confirmed shipping details after a choice had been made.
2. WALL STREET JOURNAL
Using the wall street journal bot allows users to get live stock quotes by typing “$” followed by the ticker symbol. They can also get top headlines delivered to them inside of messenger.
HP created a Facebook messenger bot that enables users to print photos, documents, and files from Facebook or messenger to any HP printer that is connected.
4. FACEBOOK M
Facebook is releasing its own personal bot for messenger named M. this is a personal assistant that can answer a wide variety of questions and requests from restaurant recommendations, complex trivia, and also last minute hotel rates in the city. It provides great flexibility and this is because M is a bot-human hybrid. As Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer told Recode, “it is primarily powered by people, but those people are effectively backed up by AIs.” The bots are the first line of contact to handling issues and requests and the more difficult requests are quickly transferred to human assistants.
Healthtap is an interactive healthcare provider that connects users to medical professionals for counseling and consultation. During the announcement of the platform, healthtap created a bot that allows users to type a medical question into Facebook messenger and receive a free response from a doctor or gets articles on related situations.
You now understand how the conversational interphase works. The user inquires in natural language about a specific health problem and it looks like he is texting a friend.
This type of set up helps the company filter incoming requests by solving some patients’ requests with existing responses that are a match and then giving live responses to unique queries.
SHOULD YOU BUILD A FACEBOOK MESSENGER BOT FOR BUSINESS?
Building a Facebook bot is like going into entrepreneurship, it involves risks. It is going to require resources, mainly staff and expertise and may not give you the results you hope for. So the question of whether you should build a Facebook messenger bot is one that only you can answer for yourself.
Here are some tips to help guide you on your thoughts and determine if your business would benefit from the use of a messenger bot.
DO YOU HAVE A DEFINED USE FOR YOUR BOT?
One of the biggest mistakes some companies have made in building mobile apps for their business is seeing it as a mobile version of the website. Mobile apps change the types of interactions and interphase between customers and the company and all of these have to be first studied. Doing this will let you realize that some tasks cannot be fitted for mobile devices and this is why some apps cannot be used. As in this case, when thinking of using a Facebook messenger bot, think about it from the viewpoint of the customer or user, not from the view of the company’s viewpoint. Here are some of the situations where you may consider using a Facebook messenger bot:
1 . Lead Nurturing
This is the case where you find it difficult to move leads from one part of your customer’s shopping journey to another, and need a way to nurture their interest after they first discover your website and return to find out more.
2. Sharing Your Knowledge Base
Traditionally, your knowledge base is the part of your website where are the resources and information are organized. These resources and information are what customers need to properly learn about and solve problems related to your product and in most cases where the knowledge base contains a lot, it can be cumbersome to go through or hard to search through. The use of a Facebook messenger bot, in this case, will take away the burden of searching through the world of knowledge from customers as they look for what they need. It efficiently answers questions and helps solves the problem easily.
3. Diversifying Service Lines
Expanding service lines is a great way to handle a lot of queries from customers and give satisfaction to a wider audience. If your customer service team has more incoming queries than they can take on, it is mainly because the customers are only attended to through a single means. The use of live chatbots makes it possible to have more than one request line open, reduces call volume, and allow customer service representatives to handle more than one question at a time.
4. Sharing Questions across the Customer Service Team
If your customer service representative needs to share a question from a customer to someone who is in a better position to help out, the use of the right Facebook bot can bring in more employees and help solve the problem.
5. Retaining Ecommerce Shoppers during Checkout
If you experience abandoned shopping carts on your website from customers who have trouble during checkout, you need a bot to help retain them by providing assistance.
IS YOUR AUDIENCE ON FACEBOOK?
Some companies see Facebook as purely a platform for socializing and making friends and they do not see the potential it holds for business. It is true that most people go to Facebook, not for the sake of buying, and so even if your audience doesn’t use Facebook for business needs, you need to ask yourself if the potential to sell your brand is there. An audience that uses Facebook heavily will also make use of messenger and if this is the case, their use of messenger will be more than that of Facebook. The usage of messaging apps has been found to be more than that of social networks.
CAN YOU SUPPORT THE INBOUND QUERIES FROM MESSENGER?
If you cannot handle the influx of queries from your prospective and current customers on Facebook, do not open a communication channel. The use of a bot can only help you manage the number of queries but it doesn’t take away the required attention and dedication to make the business work. You need to make out time for three important things;
- Promote your chatbot
- Monitor and provide answers to questions your bot can’t handle
- Observe the overall customer experience you are creating with the bot
If you give this some thought and can handle it, then dive in.
WHY DO YOU NEED PROXIES WITH FACEBOOK BOTS?
When creating a Facebook bot, you need to make it with a specific goal in mind. Now you need a messenger bot for several functions and this implies you will need more than one Facebook account. Running several accounts from one IP address is a fast way to get banned and that is bad for your business, and so you need a way to run your bots from an anonymous IP that won’t get banned. This is where the use of proxies come in.
An example of a good proxy that can allow you to run your accounts anonymously is limeproxies. It provides you with a safe and fast connection from several IP locations so that it appears natural. What you have to do is set your bot moderately so you do not end up spamming every message and comment from customers.