5 of the Best Facebook Messenger Bots

5 of the Best Facebook Messenger Bots
June 21, 2017 Syed Ariz Hussain

5 of the Best Facebook Messenger Bots

Facebook has begun to take advantage of the popularity boom of mobile messaging applications, along with the technological advances made in the field of artificial intelligence, to popularise Facebook Messenger bots.

However, before we get into the specifics of the functions and uses of Facebook Messenger Bots, I think it would be a lot more useful to you, the reader, if we started with a question to form our base, as many brands and companies are still unaware of this technology.

So, what are bots?

In layman terms, a bot is defined as a script or a program which is written to interact with the internet. These bots are specifically designed with the automation of particular tasks in mind, as they can be coded and programmed to understand natural language (which can be written/spoken) with a prospective client who may wish to interact with your business or make use of your services.

However, this technology is still in its infancy, with the companies and brands making use of it constantly updating and refining it for a more user-friendly and streamlined experience; and there are so many more people still uninformed about the advantages chat bots can bring to their business.

Now, what are Facebook Messenger bots?

Messenger bots are the Facebook brand of bots which are featured on the Facebook Messenger platform. These messenger bots are specifically created to interact on Facebook with Facebook users. They hold true to the basic function of a bot, which is to automate conversation, but the difference comes into play because of developer tools, such as the Facebook bot engine, provided by Facebook, which help make your messenger bots increasingly intelligent.

Moreover, the introduction of these messenger bots on the Facebook platform helped bring a new brand of e-commerce to light. This phenomenon was dubbed as “conversational commerce” by Chris Messina, a lead of Developer Experience at Uber. He stated that it corresponds with:

“Utilising chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.”

To help you further understand the capabilities of the functions and uses of messenger bots, we’ve listed down some of the best bots that can help make your life a little bit easier:

  1. Facebook M assistant 

Let’s start off with the Facebook M Assistant. This is the proprietary Bot created by the folks at Facebook. It acts as a personal assistant, similar to the likes of Google’s assistant (Google Now) and Apple’s assistant service (Siri) and others (Cortana by Windows). However, right now we are only focusing on the M available exclusively for use on Messenger.

The M assistant can be used for a plethora of purposes: from giving advice on where to go for your vacation to subsequently allowing you to purchase your tickets and reserve a room at a hotel. M assistant promotes extreme ease of use; you just text it.

However, the Facebook M has a particular edge, that may give it an advantage over the competition; the bot itself seeks to answer your queries as best it can, but when a query is put forth that the bot cannot cater to, a human being over at Facebook quietly takes the reigns and fulfils the request of the user.

Moreover, Facebook is aware of the challenges it faces if they continue to support their software with a human backup to cater to the over 900 million people who are signed on to the Facebook Messenger application.

Increased costs and the need for greater manpower to be on stand-by with these bots are the main difficulties. But there are other challenges which currently plague the development of the Facebook M; namely enabling the M-algorithm to become the smartest amongst all other virtual assistant applications, by providing it with data that would enable it to learn from the humans operating and training it.

This project was initially started by Alex Lebrun when he joined Facebook in 2015. Up until that point, Lebrun was responsible for creating bots that offered a narrow range of conversation.

He envisioned being able to offer more in the way of a true virtual assistant so he began the M assistant project. At first, the M assistant was only available to some Facebook employees but later it was expanded to include a specific number of heavy Messenger users in California, where the company is headquartered.

Currently, only those lucky few users have access to the M assistant, with plans to roll out the assistant to the rest of the public pushed back due to the massive amounts of data required for the software to learn the complex tasks required of it.

  1. Your.MD and WoeBot Messenger Bots

Pre-curated messages were presented as questions I could ask the bot.

Your.Md acts as a mobile doctor with a database of medical conditions which allows you to overcome issues as it finds a solution to the most common symptoms through AI. However, these tools for self-diagnosis should not be substituted for real doctors. The bot itself encourages the user to book an appointment with a doctor for a diagnosis.

After clicking the initial dialogue of “Get Started”, the messenger bot provides a range of questions, which are represented by numbers and can be answered by typing those numbers (demonstrated in the screenshot above).  However, if you stray from the conversational path the bot has planned out, it becomes confused and asks for shorter descriptions.

Additionally, WoeBot is a therapeutic chat bot. It works by periodically inquiring about your mood and drawing conclusions based on your answers.

The Woebot Facebook Bot explains how it works.

First, the bot states it will “check in with you daily” and explains the methods through which it operates, (the questions asked by me were pre-rendered)

Moreover, the bot entreats you to take whatever it says at face value and not use it as a substitute for real help, as it is “a robot” and “not capable of really understanding what you need”.

  1. Uber Messenger Bot

Uber has cooperated with Facebook to create the Uber messenger bot. This bot allows the millions of people who are signed on to Messenger to avail an Uber ride, without having to download the Uber application and Messenger also allows you to pay for your ride directly from the application.

You simply need to be logged into your Uber account on Messenger.

  1. 1-800-Flower Messenger Bot:

Mark Zuckerberg had talked about opening up the Messenger application to branded bots and e-commerce at the F8 conference in April of 2016. He made use of the 1-800-Flower messenger bot for demonstrative purposes in his keynote address.

The messenger bot works like you would imagine, as a customer service agent yet more “artificial”. It allows you to order your choice of flowers straight from the Messenger application, rather than calling the phone number.

Mark Zuckerberg said it most appropriately “To order from 1-800-Flowers, you never have to call 1-800-Flowers again.”

After selecting the initial dialogue of “Get Started”, the messenger bot provides you with two choices; whether you want to place an order or talk to someone. “Talk to someone” reinforces the idea behind the name “1-800-Flowers”, which puts you in touch with a human, if you prefer. Users can even pay for their flowers through Messenger’s own payment features.

  1. CNN News Messenger Bot

My conversation with the CNN Facebook Bot (Part 1).

The messenger bot of this news service does an exceptional job of delivering the headlines every day on the top stories, alongside editor picks, complete with images. You can choose to subscribe to the messenger bot to make use of delivery of top stories and news every day. Moreover, at any time, you can ask CNN about a topic with one word, like “space” and get access to even more headlines.

My conversation with CNN Facebook Bot (Part 2).

Conclusion

So to recap; a chat bot is a script or a program that has been written specifically to carry out automated conversation to provide a specific service.

Although messenger bots that provide a truly smart conversational experience may be far in the future, many messenger bots are available which give the user a taste of the capabilities of this technology.

Examples of such messenger bots include the Facebook M, which helps you out with just about everything, to ordering flowers from 1-800-Flower’s messenger bot, and booking an Uber from Uber messenger bot, among others.

Moreover, thousands of people are relentlessly working to provide a much more efficient and for the user. Various other platforms besides Messenger, such as WeChat, are also springing up, opening brand new avenues for the establishment of new and improved chat bots.

With the establishment of new chat bots with more advanced technology, they may be able to deliver an experience much closer to that of real, human interaction. They can be the solution to brand problems that have been identified by marketers, as the reach of this tech; especially on the Facebook Messenger platform (which has over 900 million registered users); is substantial and can be beneficial to numerous brands.

AI (artificial intelligence) chat bots, in their current state, are unable to handle and process complex requests, so they are much better suited to handling simple tasks like customer queries. These queries are often simple questions regarding the brand in question and are often repetitive; hence, they can be relegated to the AI chat bot so that marketers do not have to allocate manpower to such tasks.

This can definitely be considered an advantage for the brand or the business which is employing the use of these chat bots. But what is the advantage the consumer receives when they choose to use this new technology, rather than the traditional means of getting in touch with a company or brand through email/call?

According to recent trends, consumers prefer conversational marketing, on platforms similar to messenger bots, over typing key search terms into their search engine. Marketers are exploiting this trend to invade the space of the consumers; bots will soon be able to help you manage your finances, read interesting and the latest news stories, and order products from their favourite e-commerce stores.

Do you want to create a Facebook messenger bot for your brand or business? Are there any Facebook Messenger bots you regularly make use of? Let us know in the comments below!

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