Facebook Bots: Examples of How They Can Work In Your Industry
You might have heard the buzz lately about bots. Facebook recently unveiled Messenger Bots, which are small artificial intelligence programs that provide automated communication with Facebook users.
Users can send a brand a message through the Facebook Messenger app, and instead of an actual person writing back, a bot will. Kind of like AOL Instant Messenger’s SmarterChild from 2000, but a heck of a lot more sophisticated.
So, what do bots mean for brands? Here are a few possible scenarios in a branded bot future:
What Bots Mean for Marketers
An enhancement for mobile apps: Bots are capable of performing many of the same basic functions provided by mobile apps, such as placing orders, providing locations, and delivering product details. However, this does not mean that bots have made mobile apps redundant. Core differences between bots and apps related to ownership, customization, and security ultimately mean that bots should serve as a way to enhance and promote a brand’s native mobile app — not replace it.
The continued domination of Facebook: At this point in the digital age, Facebook seems truly unstoppable. It continues to dominate in the digital space and is evolving into much more than a social media platform – it’s a search engine, retail space, marketing machine, and (now) something of a large-scale call center for consumers and brands to connect faster than ever before. There are very few, if any, reasons why businesses should not be invested in Facebook as a business tool in 2016.
The birth of scalable social media: Bots provide a unique opportunity for brands to enter the personal messaging space without the need to invest in an actual person. And ironically, consumers don’t seem to mind. Similar to how Siri assists iPhone users, bots save users time by providing answers to basic requests immediately. If programmed correctly, bots can deliver swift and satisfactory customer service 24/7.
Facebook Bot Examples by Industry
At Zehnder, we see a number of budding opportunities for bots in industries ranging from tourism and hospitality to financial services.
Tourism and hospitality brands can use bots to assist with bookings and reservations. For example, a bot could help a user find the best hotel within her budget range and change a reservation after her flight is canceled.
Healthcare companies can use bots to deliver relevant content to users with health questions. Although HIPPA compliance will obviously limit bots’ abilities to send personalized messages to users on Facebook, that doesn’t mean that healthcare companies have to ban bots altogether. For example, if a user asks a healthcare bot about his sore neck, the bot could help him book an appointment and suggest a blog post written by one of the company’s physicians about neck pain to read in the meantime.
Food and beverage companies can use bots to provide details about their menus and products. For example, a restaurant’s bot could tell a user about the restaurant’s gluten-free dishes, saving the user from needing to download the menu PDF.
Retail companies can use bots to recommend products and conduct transactions. For example, a user could ask an apparel company’s bot if the store has his favorite black shirt in other colors. The bot could deliver a carousel of product images to the user, who could then make a purchase through the bot without needing to go to the store website.
Financial services companies can use bots to send general account notifications or content suggestions to users (while adhering to industry regulations and user privacy best practices, of course). For example, if a bank’s follower changes his status to “engaged,” the bank’s bot could send him content related to budgeting for a wedding. Although David Marcus, Facebook’s head of Messenger, has said that there will be rules around brands making initial contact with users through bots, the possibility is there.
And possibilities are what our teams get excited about. Get in touch with us to learn more about how bots can drive your business. (We promise a real person will respond.)