Facebook Messenger is a rapidly growing opportunity for businesses. Already, there are two billion messages sent between users and business pages each year. Experts expect that number will continue to grow. This is an opportunity for businesses to provide the information people are looking for in a conversational and convenient format.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Facebook Messenger is great for Uber or 1-800-Flowers, but it’s not an option for my business.”
Well, you might want to reconsider. Messenger is no longer limited to traditional “chat” activities. In fact, it’s a medium where goods are being purchased, sales appointments are being made and so much more.
The development of the Facebook Messenger chatbot
Recently, our team attended the INBOUND conference (read about it here). Facebook, especially the Messenger chatbot was a popular topic. We learned that Facebook is modeling the Messenger after a popular app in the far east, WeChat. WeChat is the app to have in China, as users can perform a plethora of tasks such as making purchases, scheduling a meet with a salesperson, booking a message, or placing an order at a restaurant, etc. This is the future of Facebook Messenger and chatbots make it feasible.
Essentially, a chatbot is programmed to respond to basic customer questions and provide them with helpful information. FAQ sheets were invented to save both the company and the purchaser time. Chatbots are essentially “living” FAQ sheets. However, that function barely scratches the surface of their vast potential. So how will businesses use the Messenger chatbots? Here are four ways businesses are already putting it to use.
1. You can trade stocks on Facebook Messenger
Did you know, you can know trade stocks on Facebook Messenger? TD Ameritrade announced on Monday, Oct 23rd, that clients can also make deposits, view performance video statements and receive alerts explaining what’s going on in the market place. TD Ameritrade wanted to remove some of the barriers that keep people from participating in the stock market and create an experience that more closely resembles a conversation than a financial transaction. Facebook Messenger provides the solution TD Ameritrade was searching for as their chatbot can handle much of the transaction and answer most questions.
Takeaway: if a company as complicated and with as many compliancy concerns as TD Ameritrade can find a place for online chatbots, so can you.
2. You can organize events
A Facebook Messenger chatbot can also be used to help run an event. For instance, at INBOUND, our team members downloaded the FB Messenger chatbot on our smartphones. Throughout the day, we were sent reminders about the schedule and could ask questions of the little robot. To be honest, it was a little overly-helpful, informing us of things we already knew, like the 15-minute coffee breaks between breakout sessions. However, it was clear to see the potential. Similarly, Disney uses an app to move traffic to underutilized areas of the park by informing guests of short lines or offering discounts on food and beverages in real time.
Takeaway: the line between helpful and annoying can be thin. Consider this as you develop a chatbot.
3. Chat and search are being blended
Trulia has rolled out an interesting chat function geared toward renters. A potential renter will tell the Trulia Facebook chatbot a general location and price range guidelines and the bot will respond with the top ten options. Google will likely continue to dominate traditional search; however, this represents a real opportunity for similar companies to create their own mini search features. This allows companies to control the interaction instead of acquiescing to Google’s rules.
Takeaway: chat allows you to create your own algorithm to answer relevant questions. This takes power away from Google and gives it back to you. Just make sure the results and user experience are satisfactory so people keep coming back.
4. Content is readily available
CNN has done an excellent job with Messenger. Interested in the latest news on a certain subject? Just enter “healthcare” or whatever you want to know about and you will be supplied with the latest headlines.
Takeaway: this is a great way to distribute your content. Think of it replacing a “site search.”
It’s clear to see the potential of chatbots and Facebook keeps reinvesting into the growth and development of Messenger. While there are still some issues to be ironed out, this is a powerful tool that businesses need to start using.
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