Commentary

Bots Are Taking Over Facebook!

About 80 days after inviting brands and businesses to build bots into Messenger, the network has been flooded with more than 11,000 of the little computer programs.

What’s more, over 23,000 developers have signed up for Wit.ai's Bot Engine, which automates conversational interactions between users and bot builders.

Despite the impressive figures, it remains to be seen whether bots can deliver on the promise of improving businesses' customer service and commerce abilities at significantly lower costs. And to be sure, bots have their critics.

Yet customer service experts say brands would be wise to follow Facebook’s lead.

“Facebook is poised to [become] a one-stop shop for consumers to make purchases, connect with brands and consume content,” Scott Horn, CMO at customer service provider [24]7, recently told me.

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And brands are listening.

Following launch partners like 1-800 Flowers, CNN, and Fandango, confectionary giant Mondelez recently announced plans to embrace bots on Facebook.

Going forward, Facebook is encouraging partners to reimagine their consumer-facing business in terms of bots. Directly within Messenger, they can already provide automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, customized communications like receipts and shipping notifications, and even live automated messages.

Facebook is also now adding star ratings so users can give developers' feedback on their bots, while a new “quick replies” option offers a more guided experience for people as they interact with bots.

In addition, the network is adding a “persistent menu” to improve bot navigation; adding account linking to connect customers’ accounts with Messenger accounts; and providing more content types, including GIFs, audio, video and files.

This column was originally published in Moblog on July 1, 2016.
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