Last week at the F8 Conference, Facebook presented new features for Messenger 2.0 including the Discover tab, chat extensions, parametric messenger codes and more. In line with Facebook’s business model, the focus of the Messenger release seems to be aimed at the enterprise market and getting more businesses to create bots for the platform.
David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products, shared some key statistics about the current state of the messenger platform:
More than 1.2 Billion people use Messenger every month
2 Billion messages exchanged between people and businesses
Over 100k unique bots exist on Messenger
With over 65 Million businesses active on Facebook and only 100k bots, there’s a huge opportunity for the space to grow. “For developers, the past year was a year of learning and exploration,” says Mikhail Larionov. “This year is a year of scale.”
So, what has us most excited about the future of enterprise chatbots?
Up until now, organic traffic for bots has been limited to embedded buttons or links. Now, as the platform steps into a stage of growth, businesses can leverage the new discovery tab to showcase their bot.
Customers can browse through bots in the same way they would browse apps in the app store. This increased visibility incentivizes businesses to create great bots with unique offerings. So, how does your bot get to the surface? First, you must submit an application. Then, just like Facebook ads, the quality and relevancy of your bot determines placement.
While the exact algorithm isn’t public, Mikhail Larionov, Engineering Manager at Facebook, listed the main filters for Discovery rank. Your bot should have low block and report rates, a ‘Get Started’ and ‘Menu’ button, and great smart responsiveness (relying less on human interaction). All of these filters tie back to the quality of the bot. In other words, you need a smart and professional bot that does something people find relevant and not spammy. "You will see lift, if you build the right experience," says Facebook.
This new feature allows a user to pull up a bunch of mini apps mid-conversation. Examples for this range from in-messenger games to more practical uses such as group purchasing, sharing songs from Spotify or creating a shared task list (shown below.) Any business that wants to leverage sharing in a group chat context can create an experience using this feature.
Imagine using a group chat to swipe through and vote on potential Airbnb listings for an upcoming group trip. Or adding items to an Amazon cart with your roommates. All within messenger.
Parametric codes transport retail or physical experiences into digital ones. They are ‘QR’ codes that take you to a specific flow within Messenger. So, hypothetically, if you are standing in Target and scan a parametric code in the grocery section, you might be greeted with a message containing coupons for produce. If you scan one in the toys section around the holidays, you might find Bullseye themed games for your kids to play.
There are many other use cases for this feature. ‘For instance,’ says Facebook, ‘hardware devices can feature parametric codes to allow people to link their account and control the device. Restaurants can assign tables using different codes, giving their bot a way to know where food should be delivered.’. More use cases could be identifying which store you’re in, what section you’re sitting in at a sports game or simply which offline campaign reached you.
We are very excited about this feature since it opens the doors for unique experiences in non-digital enterprise marketing and gives users an added way to discover a brand’s messenger bot.
Facebook hopes that by introducing new features, businesses will finally take the leap of faith and truly invest in building great chatbot.
At Smalltalk, we believe that now is the best time to do this. Businesses can leverage the scarcity of bots along with growing consumer interest and the latest features to create a unique and shareable experience. The opportunity for virality is now back on the table. Eventually, we believe all businesses will have a chat bot presence but now is the time to give customers an ‘Oh Wow’ moment before Messenger and chatbots become another common and necessary B2C channel.