We are in the midst of technological change – people are growing tired of apps, social media messenger services have exceeded the growth of social media, and users are demanding quicker access to information without the need to go through traditional search engine results pages (SERPs), or text based interaction.
To cater for this changing behavior, and to facilitate effective conversation based user demands, chatbots – a computer program which you can create to facilitate and encourage conversation with people online – have been filling a gap, driving forward a new wave of marketing and business success tied to conversational UI.
This post explores the top five reasons why you need to start incorporating chatbots into your social media strategy.
1. Make the Most of Emerging Trends
Since 2015, messaging apps have overtaken social networks, and a contributing factor for this is the fact that people rarely download new apps, but do have a basic humanistic need to remain within the conversation when it comes to social media.
Across the globe, 46 percent of consumers with a digital device still use social media to make informed purchases, so deploying chatbots enables you to combine the growing messaging trend and the existing social media reach for greater business gain.
Some of the most common messaging apps include:
- Facebook Messenger
- BlackBerry Messenger
- Windows Live Messenger
- Yahoo Messenger
The growth of active messaging apps users can be seen below:
Social Media Messaging Services
Emerging trends like social media messenger services create new opportunities for business to converse with their active audience throughout their information seeking and buying process.
By using chatbot based messaging services businesses can help solve user problems, drive the user journey towards an intended outcome, and become available as a brand and business offering 24/7.
The Facebook Messenger interface can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Message’ icon within Facebook.
2. Access Information Faster
Consider the success of technology advancements like search engine optimization (SEO), mobile devices, voice search, and personal assistants (such as Amazon and Alexa). The one thing these all have in common: they help people access information faster.
When people are active on social media platforms and microblogging platforms like Twitter, sessions (and attention spans) are typically short. The typical social media user isn’t expecting to spend long on the platform within a single session and is often “on the move” when consuming content.
Chatbots empower your business to provide direct access to any information you wish to provide without the need to click through search results, navigate a website, or use text-based search functionality.
This means that text or voice word triggers can be used to speed up the process from search to discovery as well as control the variables by delivering the content you user should see, as opposed to the content they may discover for themselves.
3. Consistent & Controllable Social Media Conversation
A primary purpose of a business presence on social media channels is the ability to manage business reputation, answer questions, and react to changing conversation based needs. Through chatbots, businesses are able to fulfill specific customer services roles to a level unsurpassed with traditional “manned” response.
A chatbot follows a specific and stipulated decision tree/process map that is activated based on trigger terms and events, with the ability to be refined (or taught) with each new piece of information the chatbot comes in contact with.
Practically speaking this means that the chatbot will always:
- Stay on message
- Provide the preferred/latest/accurate information
- Be available to help 24/7
- Drive the user towards intended end results
- Be consistent (and never flag on a Friday afternoon for example)
- Retain data ready for re-combination and process (likely service) improvement
4. Integrate Social Media and Sales
A key aspect of every sales process is reducing stages within the information seeking and buying process, to create a streamlined experience from initial interest through to effective first purchase.
A common social media through to e-commerce sale process can often include the following steps:
Initial user interest triggered on social platform > click on ad/promotion > land on a targeted website page > searches for related products > adds item to cart > looks for trust signals including products reviews prior to proceeding > finds company address and contact details > completes supplemental search comparing wider ranges and price options > returns to site triggered by social media advert > review shipping information > progresses to payment
All of the following stages requiring user discovery could be completed with a single chatbot conversation plus, the user can ask everything else they may not have spent time searching for an answer to as well:
- Land on a targeted website page
- Searches for related products
- Looks for trust signals including products reviews prior to proceeding
- Finds company address and contact details
- Completes supplemental search comparing wider ranges and price options
- Returns to site triggered by social media advert
- Review shipping information
This ability to use chatbots to shorten your path to purchase is important for any business.
5. Informal Brand Chats & Early Stages Communication
Formality is the killer of conversation. Few people would call a company to ask “what are the latest offers,” or email a business to find out “what star rating the x5000 hoover has,” or “who’s the closest pizza shop,” but through spoken search, digital personal assistants, and chatbots, people ask these things and more, all of the time.
In fact, one of the most common voice commands for Amazon Echo is adding an item to a shopping cart:
Once your business and brand are able to actively engage with your audience (current and potential) through social media platforms using chatbots, you are able to become an integral part of the conversation sooner and drive that conversation towards a number of progressive results.
Being the first brand to engage positions you as the expert and authority in your niche, it empowers your company to lead the conversation, and be involved within the various stages on communication from initial education and advice, through to final product comparison and ultimately purchase.
Taking your first steps toward chatbot and social media integration can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.
You can start by using some of the pre-existing social media messenger services that utilize chatbot technology. Alternatively, you can create your own chatbot to integrate with social media and other user interfaces.
Creating Your Own Chatbot
Initially, you need to scope out the types of problems and associated decision trees and processes that you would want “chatbot one” to service. This can be as simple as a yes/no approach leading to final decisions.
For each communication point, you will likely have a specific webpage or information resource that you will want to direct the user to (include this at the same time).
Once you have this, you will in effect have your chatbot brief. Then you will need to speak to a developer who has experience creating and refining (teaching) chatbots. Seek out an established digital agency that has case studies on the topic and is active in the chatbot space.
From there, it will be a case of any typical development project.
Good luck with your chatbot projects!
Featured Image: Pexels.com
In-Post Images: Pexels.com
Screenshots taken by author, August 2017