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Facebook Extends Support For Marketers' Bots

Encouraging developers to build more bots, Facebook is offering them free analytics, and an open invitation to join its FbStart program.

Facebook Analytics for Apps isn’t a new service. Already, it lets businesses measure, understand, and optimize customer activity across apps and Web sites. Now, the support extends to bots.

As such, “You’ll be able to view reports on messages sent, messages received, and people who block or unblock your app -- without having to add additional code,” Sridharan Ramanathan, a software engineer at Facebook, notes in a new blog.

Developers will now have access to aggregated and anonymized demographic reports such as age, gender, education, interests, country, and language.

For bots associated with multiple Pages, developers will also be able to filter results at the page-level to view analytics for a specific Page.

Now, businesses on the Messenger Platform can also use the App Events API to log custom events for Analytics for Apps.

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“In doing so, you'll be able to gather deeper insights about how people are engaging with your bots,” according to Ramanathan.

Additionally, Messenger Platform developers and businesses can now apply for FbStart -- a program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their apps.

Less than a year after inviting brands and businesses to build bots into Facebook Messenger, the network has swelled to around 34,000 tiny computer programs. That’s up from about 11,000 in late July.

Despite the program’s impressive growth, it remains to be seen whether bots can deliver on the promise of improving businesses’ customer service and commerce abilities at significantly lower costs. 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.

Thanks in large part to Facebook's influence, brands are listening. Following the lead of 1-800 Flowers, CNN, and Fandango, confectionary giant Mondelez recently announced its big bot ambitions.

More broadly, Facebook is still 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.

This summer, Facebook added star ratings so users could give developers feedback on their bots, while a new “quick replies” option offered a more guided experience for people as they interact with bots.

The network also recently added a “persistent menu” to improve bot navigation, add account linking to connect customers’ accounts with Messenger accounts, and add more content types, including GIFs, audio, video and files.

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