This past week, Mark Zuckerberg announced at F8, Facebook’s annual global developer conference, how Facebook is building branded chatbots. Yes, it’s as we all thought, robots are slowing taking over but in this case, they’ll be taking over in the form of brands. So… what is a chatbot and what does it mean to me?
It’s an app that integrates themselves with Facebook’s Messenger. Once you download the app, you will be experiencing a third ‘person’ entering conversations you’re having with friends. The app identifies certain key words that connects itself to a brand, which can be anything like ordering pizza, purchasing flowers (true story, Zuckerberg did this to show off the app at the F8 conference) or looking to purchase plane tickets to that all-inclusive resort you’re in serious need of. Once those key words are identified, the chatbot will insert itself into the conversation depending on what you’re asking for with a call to action button. The possibilities will soon be endless, and brands are already jumping on board to get in on this cash grab and easy access to consumers. Okay, so, what’s the point of this? Zuckerberg hopes that with Facebook Messenger’s 900 million monthly active users, they’ll see the benefits of downloading the app to make their lives easier or on the other hand, be a little bit more mindful of their spending habits. Brands such as Spotify, JackThreads, Walmart, NBA, Everlane, Uber, eBay and many more are already gravitating to this new tool and jumping on board the bot game. However, brands aren’t the only ones reaping in the benefits of this new tool, media platforms such as CNN and Business Insider have already designed their own chatbot, who came prepared with their bot launches right after the F8 conference ended. Now, subscribers to CNN on Facebook Messenger can receive top stories directly within the messenger app instead of scrolling through their news feed. So how does it work for the brand? Developers are given tools from Facebook so they can build chatbots that integrate with Facebook Messenger’s app using artificial intelligence and human oversight to mimic conversations. Is there seriously anything technology can’t do? The chatbots then insert themselves into user conversations where people can text bots according to what they need help with. The developer or brand in this sense, can identify key words which includes inserting images and call to action buttons to let people view their online orders, book restaurant reservations, order late night pizza, plane tickets or anything else they were looking for. Scary, I know. Brands are already putting the bot game to the test with Everlane offering same-day clothing delivery and the Dutch airline KLM sending flyers boarding passes. E-commerce has soon made its way into the publishing business with brands fully inserting themselves into conversations and messenger slowly taking over social media apps. So the question for you is, which bot will you be talking to next?