After spending too many hours on Facebook Messenger Bots, it is clear that the use-cases for FB bots are limited. However, let’s first talk about the best way to utilize bots right now:
Viral Marketing Campaign – One of the few successes for Facebook Messenger Bots was for the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare marketing campaign where Facebook users could chat with in-game character, Lt. Reyes. The bot guided users through questions and answers to decipher a secret access code which can then be used to obtain early information about the game before it released to the general public. It exchanged 6M+ messages in just the first week it was launched. It even spawned a very active subreddit to solve the access code.
FAQ-type Customer Service – The most obvious usage for Facebook Messenger Bots right now is to provide general customer service. Things like, “what are your store hours?” or “how do I return my last purchase?” are good examples of customer service requests that bots can help answer. This saves time for the customer and helps them avoid getting too deep into the trenches of self-help libraries.
You should message a business just the way you would message a friend
As much as I believe that Mark Zuckerberg’s words ring true and that “you should message a business just the way you would message a friend”, it is still too early to develop truly revolutionary and powerful bots. Bots can be better! There are three things that developers desperately need from Facebook Messenger Bots right now.
- Payments for Businesses – Right now, there is no way a Facebook user can transfer money to a business through a Facebook Messenger Bot. Even “Spring” one of the first businesses to offer a shopping bot on the Facebook platform takes you to a separate page for the actual transaction. For Facebook to provide such a great user interaction with shopping bots, it’s a bit jarring when the user is taken away from Messenger and dumped into a website to do the transaction. The experience isn’t seamless.
- Adding Bots to a Group Chat – Facebook bots are currently only a one-to-one interaction. What that means is a Facebook user can only chat with a bot and no one else. Forget any social experience that you might get when you combine a bot with a group chat with your friends. Some of the best bots on Telegram, right now, are gaming bots that allow you to play games with your friends in the same chatroom.
- A Way to Reach a Specific Business Location – Finally, one of my biggest gripes with Facebook Messenger is that it’s difficult to message a business that has multiple locations. For example, if I needed to know whether the McDonald’s near me is open during Memorial Day Weekend, how would I find this McDonald’s? The McDonald’s Facebook page is for every single location in the United States, which isn’t very useful for me.
Facebook, I’m sure you’re working on these elements for your Messenger platform, but we need these features! There is so much potential for what these bots can do, but developers are limited by the platform’s current offerings.