Facebook introduced its messaging platform in August 2011. Three years after its launch, Messenger was separated from Facebook forcing users to download a separate app to use the service. While this created initial confusion and outrage among users, Messenger is now the top messaging app surpassing big hitters such as WhatsApp and Skype. In April 2016, Messenger recorded over 900 million active users.
Brands who utilize the Messenger app have the ability to speak to their audiences one-on-one. While email marketing has the functionality of reaching people individually, Messenger is a platform where users engage with messages rather than simply reading them. The platform encourages users to respond quickly and frequently as they would to text messages.
Facebook Messenger Bot takes things one step further for brands and enters the world of artificial intelligence. This new product allows “robots” to engage with consumers based on their messaging habits. Instead of spitting out information for audiences to read, Messenger Bot allows brands to answer questions and react in real time to consumers.
Hi Poncho is a weather bot. This Messenger Bot interacts with users and answers all things about weather. Bots can have “personalities” so it feels like users are speaking with popular personas - such as clever cat - instead of a computer. Messenger Bots not only answer questions, but also give users options to set up alarms or alerts with a simple request.
Check out Forbes’ Top 10 Facebook Messenger Bots list.
With all new platforms, growing pains are inevitable. Marriott’s first run around with Messenger Bot this past March did not go as planned. It used Messenger as a platform to retarget people with messages who browsed rooms, but did not book. They quickly learned that this app is not a place users want to be bombarded with unsolicited messages. The messaging campaign halted just two hours after initial launch with a massive amount of complaints from customers.
The company quickly realized that this platform is best used to engage customers by fulfilling their requests and needs, not by inundating them with marketing messages. Users are willing to interact with a brand if they are offering a service or product that is desired. Don’t tell a customer what they need, let them tell you so you can meet that need.
Currently, any brand can create a bot using Facebook’s API to reach their consumers free of charge. Facebook is gaining more understanding on how consumers are interacting with bots to further improve services. Also, additional insight on this product will make Facebook Messenger more valuable to brands and likely lead to additional paid promotions for advertisers in the near future.