Last year Facebook introduced chatbots to its Messenger app, but businesses have reportedly been slow to adopt the technology. “Chatbots were always a means to an end, not an end,” said Stan Chudnovsky, head of product at Messenger. “Our goal was always to enable meaningful and useful conversations between people and businesses. Bots were a means to achieve that goal.”
This week at its F8 conference Facebook is shifting from bots to discovery. “The number one thing businesses want is to be discovered, so we are connecting the White Pages, the people’s directory, with the Yellow Pages, which is the business directory,” said Chudnovsky. One of Messenger’s new features is a Discover tab just for businesses, which will include a list of featured businesses along with popular bots, a list of what’s nearby, and popular categories such as food & drink, entertainment and news. Consumers will be able to find out more information about a business, make an appointment or start a conversation with a business.
“Our goal at Facebook is not to launch a bunch of bots, but make businesses successful on Messenger and give them the ability to communicate with customers,” Chudnovsky said. “Bots are there to make sure threads between businesses and people are better. We have the ability to give developers capabilities to build a more successful presence on Messenger so everyone enjoys it.”
As I mentioned in a previous post, based on the responses in our Local Commerce Monitor™ small businesses are slow to adopt new technologies and platforms. They want to see the value before they invest time, money and effort into new tech. Small businesses in the suvey also expressed a strong appreciation for social media’s ability to help them communicate more effectively with their customers. Businesses follow after their customers, trying to go where their customers go… and, according to Facebook, Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly users.
A Facebook page was their most used media platform for advertising and promotion at 45.0% usage among the full sample, which could be to Facebook’s benefit as it tries to direct businesses to its Messenger app.