Starting today, Facebook Messenger introduced dedicated sections to interact with brands and added new ways for third-party apps to be integrated right into Messenger. This is a powerful update for brands on or interested in the Facebook Messenger Chatbot platform.
Today marks the one year anniversary of Facebook’s opening up its Chatbot framework. The platform has come a long way, now with over 1.2 Billion users on the platform. “We’ve created an ecosystem of developers that are now enabling large companies to do different types of things, whether they want to do brand stuff or whether they want to plug into their huge call centers with thousands of people and allow them to answer Messenger messages instead of phone calls,” says Facebook VP David Marcus, who leads the Messenger team.
There are a few important things to note about the latest Messenger Update:
Smart Replies: Messenger can scan a company website and automatically create a bot to answer simple FAQs. This type of bot can answer rudimentary questions like “What time are you open until today?” For brands interested in testing the waters on Messenger, this is a good offering from Facebook.
For brands looking to build an experience beyond a basic “Smart Replies” bot, Facebook solved many problems from Messenger 1.0 and added some smart functionality.
Discovery: One issue brands faced over the last year was discovery. Now, there is a new “bot shop” where users can see their recently used bots, browse bot categories, see trending experiences and search for specific brand bots. As VentureBeat notes, “When users are in this new Discovery tab, businesses of all variations will be there, be it those with physical locations like Neiman Marcus, or well-known brands such as AT&T, Comcast, and CNN, along with bots that have been created. There will also be nearby businesses displayed, such as a local barber shop where users can talk to them, set up an appointment, tap to see when they’re open or closed, get directions”
Messenger Codes: One element of Messenger that we’d like to see brands invest more in are Messenger Codes. Admittedly, Messenger Codes (often times known as QR codes) haven’t caught on in the West just yet but Facebook continues to double down. Here’s how it works: People will be able to scan these Messenger Codes at a retail store, on a receipt, on packaging, concerts, sporting event, etc and after the person scans the code, a Messenger bot will pop up to provide the individual with more information. One use case of Messenger Codes is when a person buys a product, then takes a picture of their Messenger Code on the packaging. In say, 2 months, the bot chirps up to remind the person to re-order. This empowers brands to fight Amazon and own the customer relationship directly. Another use case of Messenger Codes is a person scanning the back of his seat at a Football game. Scan the Messenger code & order a hotdog right to the seat; a light-weight, powerful commerce experience. Facebook is making it easier to generate multiple codes for businesses too, meaning a company can have a customer service bot and a shopping bot.
Chat Extensions: This is the latest feature we’re most excited about. Facebook will now allow bots to be part of group chats. For example, users can watch a sports game’s play-by-play together, collaborate on building a playlist or book a hotel. Chat Extensions empower users to conduct tasks within a chat. QSR brands can now provide group ordering through chat and retail brands can be a part of a shopping experience. This feature feels similar to WeChat apps & the iMessage App Store meaning brands can build one “group” experience and replicate it across many different messaging platforms.
While Facebook as a platform may be dealing with fatigue (do users really want “Stories” in their Newsfeed), we’re excited to see Messenger keep growing and see more brands enter the space. Messenger is becoming the new Yellow Pages, Amazon, 1-800 number and more – all in one.
Finally, we are so proud to be recognized as a Facebook partner on the main-stage today!