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  • Posted on 21 April 2016

After the Facebook F8 Conference

Messenger becomes the new support, advertising, and sales channel

Two days of exciting insights into the world of Facebook, which is by now much more than just a social network, has come to an end. It’s very likely that many things will change for online marketing, within the next few months.

In front of more than 2600 participants at the F8 Conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg presented his ten-year-plan to ‘conquer the world’. The focus was especially set on several specific announcements, which are of high interest to advertisers and online shops. The goal for Facebook Messenger, with its more than 900 million users, is to become the preferred platform for companies and customers for future communication.

Chatbots take on phone hotlines & service apps

Actually, I don’t know anyone who likes to call companies. And people don’t want to install a new App for every company”, Zuckerberg said in his opening speech. The goal with chatbots is to fulfil this task. They can provide information or execute orders through the Messenger-platform, no matter which mobile device or operating system is being used. These software-robots with artificial intelligence, understand the message people send through their smart phones. They then simulate an interaction with them by reacting to special keywords.

Users are able to contact a provider’s chatbot in different ways: e.g. via the provider’s Facebook-page or through social buttons on their website. Furthermore, the function “Customer Matching” allows a dial-up between the company and user by using a mobile phone number. Thereby, Facebook compares the mobile number with the phone numbers saved in the user system. 

Yet ideas go much further; rather than clicking through web-shops, potential customers are able to chat with online stores to order products and services directly through the platform. David Marcus, former Head of Paypal, who meanwhile became responsible for Facebook’s Messaging products, showed how sneakers could be ordered via Messenger in the future. The introduced chatbot, which belongs to fashion brand ‘Spring’, first asked about the style of the sought after sneakers, and then moved on to ask about the users price range. With this information, it finally presented different designs to choose between. Just tap it and the order is processed. Payment for the ordered product is also possible, without needing to leave Messenger.

 

Messenger’s beta-version is ready

From now on, every company is able to create chatbots as the Beta-version was activated for Messenger at the F8 conference. Facebook is providing an open interface and templates are available on which – in addition to the company’s name – buttons or images can be included. If companies prefer more complex chatbots, they can use Facebook’s “Bot Engine”. This is based on “Machine Learning” and artificial intelligence. A user’s message can be received and answered with a Send/ Receive-API and developers can choose between different templates to react to the user’s request. Thus, they are able to create a more structured conversation.

The chatbot will be able to recognise customers. The customer should therefore only receive relevant recommendations, and the programme, which is different than call-centres, should be able to react immediately. The conversation is constantly in motion even if the customer doesn’t answer instantly. The digital seller will remind you of the already initiated conversation, at the latest, the next time you use the chat program.

David Marcus emphasised in his keynote that the topic of security was of utmost importance while the platform was being developed: “Here we can control the messages’ number and quality, which isn’t the case when it comes to e-mails.” Users also have the possibility of hiding companies’ messages partially or completely with a “block” button located above each conversation.

 

Chatbots will be open for sponsored posts

Vice versa, we have to reckon that the choice of bots and the communication with them also provides more data-input for Facebook’s algorithm. This determines the display of content within the newsfeed and suggested Apps and Bots. For making this new platform attractive to companies, Facebook introduced several tools as well as the right ad format, which leads users to a Messenger conversation through a Call-to-Action (CTA).

Facebook is already testing the possibility of “Sponsored Posts“, to be able to generate revenue through Chatbots where companies can pay a fee for the opportunity to send direct messages to specific recipients. Users have to have already initiated contact to the advertiser. By providing the API, Facebook becomes the gatekeeper for communication between customers and companies. Thereby new and particular rules are highly probable, just like guidelines for fan pages. 

At the F8 Conference, Facebook promised that irritating ads or spam, are not going to emerge for Messenger. Though customers who contacted a company for service-related questions might receive other useful offers. This goes according to the motto: “You informed yourself about XYZ. It is now back in stock again.” This way, customers can immediately be informed about changes while companies have the chance of getting direct feedback from them.

 

Customers expect fast & reliable resources

Interfaces with a company’s own CRM system could identify customers through their Facebook-ID and allocate them into clusters. If the company displays ads on Facebook at a later time, this would be the ideal database for personalised offers. With “Salesforce for Messenger”, a solution for the popular Cloud CRM System was already been presented at the F8 conference.

A distributor could for example, embed a Messenger Plugin to the checkout process of his web-shop. Thereby, a customer is able to directly ask about arising issues, easily and quickly, just before finishing their transaction. By linking Messenger to the purchase history and service requests, customer expectations are exceeded by providing a personal approach. Companies can use Messenger as a channel for creating brand loyalty and intensifying customer relationships by an offer that combines the potential use of marketing, sales and service.

Nowadays, for many brands, Customer Care is an essential element for the entire customer experience. The announced opening of Facebook Messenger at the F8 conference in San Francisco had immense impact on companies’ future social media strategies. For consumers, it’s a simple way of contacting a brand directly and receiving a competent answer through the same platform. 

Expectations are quite high in terms of response rate. This includes new challenges for companies and their service departments, if they will use this new channel in a strategic manner. For a support system like this, which is comparable to a telephone hotline, it needs technical resources, staff and qualified handling. An automated customer service system has to be conceived and steadily optimised with the help of chatbots in order to ensure the customer’s experience is consistent and valuable even after the transaction is complete. 

 


 

For more information don’t hesitate to contact NetBooster social media experts to discuss your needs and what the new features could mean for you 

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Jan Brockmann
Director of Operation
 jan.brockmann@metapeople.com 

 

Posted by NetBooster (Group)