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Facebook to introduce Messenger bots


Facebook to introduce Messenger bots

Social networking phenomenon Facebook has recently announced its intentions to introduce chat bots to its Messenger app.

The announcement was made at this year’s F8 conference, Facebook’s annual event for developers, which is held in San Francisco.

Bots are entities that resemble your friends within the app in which you can exchange messages. Doing this will prompt the bot to perform a series of tasks.

David Marcus, head honcho at Facebook Messenger, made the announcement, explaining that these bots will give the app’s 900 million users a more interactive experience within their message threads compared to the question-and-answer bots you tend to see in other places.

These interactive experiences would include shopping, reading the news and even booking flights. Marcus gave a demonstration of how the bots would appear using the CNN News bot as an example. It will learn what the interests of the user are and then be able to offer a series of stories related to these interests for the user to scroll through. Users will also be able to request a brief summary of the news if they are pressed for time.

As well as CNN, other initial partners of the function include fast food chain Burger King, travel service Expedia, the Bank of America, shopping concierge site Spring and news group Business Insider.

With the shopping bots, Marcus explained that a user can tell the bot what item they are looking to buy as well as a price range, and the bot will deliver a selection of products, with the option to purchase. This is something many companies will find useful because of the large number of users the app has.

The service is completely automated and will learn about the preferences and interests of the user over time, from news stories to items they like to buy regularly, meaning a unique and personalised service for each user.

One of the reasons why bots are becoming popular amongst businesses is so that they can be in touch with their customers in a way that feels more like a conversation as opposed to an in-store transaction.

The function will become available to US users of the service in the near future, but users in the UK and other parts of the world will have to wait a little longer while Facebook recruits more companies and organisations to be integrated within the app. It is believed that the rollout date will be later on in 2016.

Alan Littler

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