Last week we witnessed a new era of communication and business opportunity. At Facebook's F8 conference the Messenger Bot Platform was announced that allows Messenger users to create Chat Bots that give an instant response directly in the messenger chat window. During the demo we saw some nice examples from companies such as 800 flowers that, funnily let you order flowers directly through the bot and Spring that let you choose and buy sneakers.
Right after the announcement there were brands such as CNN, Salesforce and Zendesk available to message direct from the channel. An interesting announcement a few weeks ago was theusername structuring that easily allows people to find users in chat and start conversations. It won't be long before the 'Like us on Facebook' we see on billboards, in shop windows and newspaper adds will be replaced with 'Chat with us on Messenger'.
Bots are now the talk of the town and a number of people are comparing the space to the time Apple announced the App Store in 2007. We are seeing a new eco system being developed where Brands and businesses will not only have an App but now also a Bot.
Like with Apps, Bots will not just sit on 1 platform. A mobile App needs to be built for iOS, Android, iPad, Apple watch etc. We have heard people talking about how bots can be built for platforms including Telegram, Kik, Path, WeChat and now Messenger - but where is Twitter in all this chatter?
Bots are not new - they have been around for years on Twitter, but until this new interest in the world of "bots' they have been seen as spammy and not really welcomed. The world is changing and now Mark Zuckerberg has spoken could we see this is the time that Bots on Twitter become official?
I know there are many companies that have built bots for Twitter and you can easily go and find them with a quick search in Google - but there are not many people trying to change this space in to really help brands and businesses on Twitter. One company that has been building Twitter Bots for brands over the last 2 years is a startup based out of Dubai called Brndstr. I spoke to the founder and CEO of the company Simon Hudson at a recent StartupGrind conference in Redwood city.
His engineers has been working with Twitter and the GNIP team for some time to build a BOT directory for Twitter where users can in 2 clicks turn any Emoji or #tag into a helpful Bot using it'splatform. Simon explained that a few years ago he saw that Brands were trying to build instant gratification campaigns using Twitter and that creating them a custom Bot was the simplest solution. All that a brands audience had to do was Tweet @Brand with say #help to instantly receive info about the brand. In the past 2 years he has partnered with over 80 brands across the globe including Coca Cola, UBER, CNN, Samsung and Jaguar and built them all a custom Bot on Twitter, he says they are seeing an average increase of 3.2x engagement by using an auto reply solution.
It seems that Facebook introducing thefeature know that Twitter have mastered the space of sharing usernames. It is very common for News readers to display their Twitter Handle on the bottom of the screen asking the audience to Tweet, but not so much with Facebook. Maybe that is all about to change with this new introduction.
Hudson explained that earlier this year they saw a huge surge of interest in Bots and decided to release a self serve platform that would allow anyone to simply open an account on PowerPack and build a bot. He tells me FB messenger, Slack and Telegram are being launched soon but right now the main focus is on educating people to build 'official' bots on Twitter.
It is still very early days for Bots on Social channels and my guess is we will see a number of changes in the near future - but we can't hide that they are here. Could this be the moment Twitter bounces back and becomes the king of the Bot space, only time will tell.