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July 18, 2017

Facebook bots – what are they, and what do they do?

Digital Strategy
Facebook Advertising

Facebook and the birth of Messenger

Facebook is a platform that very few people would be able to live without today. It’s a platform that has totally revolutionised our everyday life over the space of a dozen years, by making it possible for anyone and everyone, regardless of where they are in the world, to interact. Not only is it a free service, but Facebook has also become a richer tool over the years; it now gives user data to companies and offers paid advertising.

By taking advantage of the digital revolution, Facebook has encouraged more and more people involved in traditional marketing (TV, newspapers) to advertise on Facebook and other social networks.

In 2011, Facebook launched a new platform linked to users’ accounts, called Messenger, which makes it easier for users to send private messages to each other. A few years later, due to disappointing results, Facebook made it obligatory for mobile users to install Messenger if they wished to send private messages. This strategy worked rather well, and indeed Messenger now has over 1 billion users.

"Artificial intelligence involves implementing techniques and theories to create machines or robots which are capable of simulating human intelligence."

Artificial intelligence

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has been exploring the very promising world of artificial intelligence for a while now. All the big technology companies are convinced that artificial intelligence will be the next big trend.

Artificial intelligence involves implementing techniques and theories to create machines or robots which are capable of simulating human intelligence.

Rapid progress is being made in the field and the technology is becoming increasingly complex; some might say frightening.

Facebook’s first innovation in this field is Messenger Bots.

Facebook Messenger Bot

Exactly one year ago, Facebook made its Messenger Bots official. ‘Bot’ is a contraction of ‘robot’, and is defined as an intelligent computing programme which provides services.

With these bots, Facebook aims to be able to manage sales and after-sales functions for the companies using them, by trying to establish permanent contact by speaking with clients, in the same way as they would with a physical, human assistant.

It’s a practice which could help Facebook massively in terms of finding out more about our purchasing habits, which products interest us and how we behave before making a purchase. This knowledge will enable them to improve their advertising service, by being able to offer their advertisers even more targeted ads and therefore increase their revenue in the long term.

The advantage for consumers is that they will be able to ask for information at any time, from a machine which is constantly connected and which can answer them in the best possible way before they make a purchase online.

Below are some examples of very efficient Bots:

Example 1— Fynd

Fynd is promoting its bot ‘Fify’, which serves to meet consumers’ different demands. For instance, you can ask it to show you which Nike shoes they sell, or if they still have white shirts in stock.

You can try it out on their Facebook page. 

Example 2—1-800 Flowers 

This online floristry giant has designed an exceptionally useful bot. Many customers say they now prefer to order through the bot rather than on the website.

The bot will make purchasing flowers a much easier task, and indeed payment: it spares clients from going through all the different steps that are necessary on the website.

Test it yourself here. It’s great!

Exemple 3—CNN

Our final example comes from the American media giant CNN. They’ve managed to unite their public’s wishes – to be kept up to date with all the latest news – with the innovative nature of Facebook bots.

Their bot asks you which subjects you’re most interested in and, based on this information, sends you the latest updates directly to your Facebook inbox.

Of course, some people will find that brilliant and a great way of saving time, but others might find it annoying and intrusive to receive all these messages from CNN in their inbox. And indeed it’s true that if you don’t disable alerts, CNN will send you messages non-stop.

The reality on the ground

All of these innovations do a lot of good and allow companies to capitalise on Facebook to innovate and increase their sales revenue. However, a year after the launch of Messenger Bots, the results aren’t exactly as Facebook envisaged.

In an article published recently on Les Echos, David Marcus, the French director of bots at Facebook, expressed his disappointment in the results. He says that the problem lies in artificial intelligence, which is not yet sufficiently developed to be able to offer clients the desired results.

Indeed, people imagine that they’ll be able to speak to the bot exactly as if it were a real person, but the robot still has limitations and, for the moment, these limitations are preventing people from being able to take full advantage of bots.

This means that Facebook bots’ first year ended with negative results.

But artificial intelligence technology is improving every month and we can imagine that Facebook bots might completely replace sales assistants in shops in the near future.

In an interview, Mark Zuckerberg stated that he is more willing than ever to concentrate all his efforts on the advancement of artificial intelligence technologies, as he places a lot of faith and hope in them. Facebook has also opened several artificial intelligence research laboratories, as have many other big companies in Silicon Valley.

Bots and marketing 

As we saw above, the advantages for digital marketing, and especially for communication, are that bots:

  • Respond almost instantaneously to clients’ requests
  • Provide more detailed information about products and services
  • Make payment easier, as well as searching for products which meet clients’ requirements
  • Keep visitors to your Facebook page amused

Of course, we don’t yet have any concrete results and as we saw before, bots are still not as intelligent or efficient as we’d like, but they’re something that should be pursued at all costs, because changes will occur very quickly.

It's your turn : create a bot for your Facebook page 

There are several platforms which enable you to create bots in a matter of minutes, without requiring any knowledge of programming and with minimum difficulty.

Chat Fuel, for example, lets you create a bot in very little time, and at zero cost. They offer a paying service for people who would like to have their bot built by the company, or who are after a more complex bot.

They’ve even made a tutorial video which explains in detail how to make a bot. It really couldn’t be simpler:


Over to you!

So, what’s your view on artificial intelligence? Do you find Facebook Bots useful? Are you planning to get involved?

Article written by Marc L.


June 22, 2019 at 11 am 28 min

Super article sur le sujet, je pense pouvoir utiliser dans l'avenir pour mon audience. C'est très simpa quand je reçois les messages et que je sois répondu en quelques secondes. À très bientôt Mory