Users Wary Of Bots, But Businesses Utilize Them In Customer Communications

In order for Facebook Messenger and similar platforms to succeed, consumers will have to become more comfortable with bots.

Messenger is awash in the automated software applications. More than 200,000 bots were now live on the service -- and they’re becoming the preferred means for businesses to communicate with customers.

Unfortunately, most consumers have come to associate bots with bad intentions.

Indeed, a whopping 80% of people that have heard of bots say they are mostly used for malicious purposes, according to Pew Research Center.

Nationwide, about two-thirds of people (66%) have heard about social-media bots, though far fewer (16%) have heard much.

One problem: users have a hard time distinguishing between accounts operated by bots, and those run by real people.

In fact, only about half of those that have heard about bots (47%) say they are very or somewhat confident in their ability to recognize automated accounts. Plus, most people have come to associate bots with the spread of false and misleading information.

All told, about two-thirds (66%) of people think social-media bots have a mostly negative effect on how well-informed Americans are about current events.

Many are conflating Russian-run political disinformation bots with those created by Fortune 500 companies to communicate more efficiently with consumers.

Still, plenty of consumers don’t like bots, regardless of who runs them.

“Consumers have been slow to warm up to the idea of interacting with chat bots and paid advertising in messaging applications,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said earlier this year.

Some 78% of those who have heard about bots support the government using them to post emergency updates, the most popular usage of the nine offered in the survey.

If bot makers can offer real value and engender trust with consumers, their bots might stand a chance of succeeding.

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