Chapter II – Facebook’s Bot Experiment: Re-imagine Your Facebook Messenger.
In our last blog, we looked at how messenger apps are embracing the ‘bots’ feature and emerging as one of the most promising platforms for m-commerce.
With millions of live user conversations and the inclusion of additional functionalities, popular messenger apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Kik, Line and Telegram have stepped into a new phase of transition.
Even though most of these messenger apps have stepped up their game by preparing their own bot-spaceships, it is quite obvious to state that Facebook has the biggest advantage here.
As compared to other IM platforms, Facebook thrives on its scale. With more than 900 million of monthly active users, the Facebook Messenger Bot experiment can actually turn out to be a real testing ground for the Bot developers and it may provide the necessary impetus to the Bot revolution.
What is Facebook trying to do?
Currently, Facebook is trying to create an enriching experience for its users and businesses, by setting up a better communication platform with the inclusion of value added services and an additional layering of advertisers.
By keeping its other major asset, WhatsApp at the entry level, it plans to leverage on the combined data of user profiles for smart re-targeting and thereby, create a value driven model for Facebook Messenger.
In its aim to match the stature of WeChat in the western market, Facebook intends to build a conducive environment for encouraging smooth interactions between businesses and users. Facebook Messenger already offers exciting features like themed stickers, gifs, etc. which can be picked from its store. Adding bots within its current framework will definitely take it one step closer in enhancing the appeal of its messenger.
In the future, we can expect Facebook Messenger to integrate with popular payment portals to successfully drive conversations that can ultimately lead to commercial transactions. This can also go a long way in helping Facebook reach out to areas where it’s known to have limited access.
If Facebook succeeds, it will actually be able to create a direct interface between commercial businesses and users within a chat medium. This can undoubtedly open up new channels for Facebook to monetise its chat platform.
Impact on App Developers, Businesses, & Advertisers.
There are a lot of speculations about messenger app bots disrupting the mobile app culture. However, we believe that mobile apps have nothing to fear. Mobile apps are known to cater to a loyal set of quality audiences who know where to find their favourite product.
Like today, almost all businesses understand the value propositions of developing their own mobile apps, where they can list their products and services to engage their user. Also, the integration of in-built analytics on mobile apps will always help businesses in identifying their most important users, as well as understanding their preference for products and services. So, it’s always going to be in their interest to build their own mobile apps.
Brands & Businesses
Messenger apps can definitely be an added focus zone for brands as most users spend a long hours on these apps. There’s an exciting possibility of engaging users to shop through chatbots as live-chats can influence users to try out new products out of curiosity and also handle the primary user queries. Moreover, use of chatbots can also facilitate in gathering user-intelligence which can help brands cater to the specific taste and preferences of their target audiences.
Advertising will continue to remain a top priority for businesses as it creates great awareness about their products and services. Apart from influencing brand perception and ‘product search’ amongst consumers, marketing initiatives will also have a direct impact on striking quality interactions with chatbots.
Let’s take an example of a huge private park in your city, which attracts lots of visitors every day. Now suppose, the owner decides to open up a mall inside the park premises in order to offer something additional to the visitors. This is a great opportunity for the park owner to make some money, as well as for the brands, which would be interested in setting up stores inside the mall. But when it comes to attracting customers, it is highly likely that a visitor will choose to go to a well-known store instead of an unheard entity. This kind of a user choice is mostly driven by the overall branding and marketing initiatives of businesses. Needless, to say advertising will continue to remain the backbone for driving sales for a business.
In fact, this highlights the significance of a sound mobile marketing strategy for businesses to ensure that their products have a strong presence on mobile. So Bots or ‘no Bots’, mobile advertising will continue to play a decisive role in connecting brands with users.
What can we look forward to?
By creating an expansive ecosystem for businesses on its Messenger platform, Facebook has an interesting chance of changing the way we shop on mobile.
However, a major concern for these chatbots is that users could perceive them as spam. Even though Facebook plans to have a ‘block button’ in place, regular spam-like bot interactions can really cut down on the user-experience. Users may find chatbots to be intrusive and raise privacy concerns. So, the criterion of ensuring security about the information exchanged between the users and chatbots is very crucial at this juncture for Facebook.
It’ll be interesting to see how Facebook manages to make the bots feature exciting for the users and businesses. Will it (ro)Bot-ise the entire mobile shopping experience? Let’s wait and watch.
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