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Digital Transformation Facebook Chatbots

Why and how brands should take advantage of Facebook Messenger bots

By Syd Lawrence | co-founder

October 5, 2016 | 5 min read

Bots are nothing new. In one form or another, they have been around for years. The term comes from a Czech word, robota, meaning 'forced labor'. The word robot first appeared in a 1920 play by Czech writer Karel Capek, R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots.

facebook bots


Now robots vacuum the floor, they paint cars, they mow the lawn, they make your coffee. Any computer is ultimately a robot; it’s a machine which is forced to perform a task. Of course, bots come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of ‘intelligence’ but they are not new.

Well how about chatbots? They must be new. No. Again, they have been around for at least couple of decades. The process by which a machine performs a task in response to a chat based input started with IRC (Internet Relay Chat) back in 1988. In 1992 there was a fork of IRC explicitly created to test the development of bots so over 20 years ago there were enough chatbots around to create a need to test them.

So the question is why now? Why do we suddenly have a surge of interest in bots and a way to make them really easily?

The market.

Recently, Facebook announced that there are now over 1 billion active monthly users on Messenger. That’s roughly 1/7 of the global population and the key thing here is that they are ACTIVE monthly users. They’re not people who have bought a gadget, played with it once and chucked it in their bottom drawer. To put this in context and to show the relevancy of creating a Messenger chat bot over a native app, there have also been 1 billion iPhones sold. But how many are in active use? Never mind how many of their owners actually download an app.

The number of ACTIVE users on Messenger and its familiarity means it is a great opportunity for so many use cases.

Bots can do pretty much anything an app could. You just have to design it differently. If you have a process that you want a user to complete, so long as you can sketch out a flow diagram, you can get a bot to perform it. But the medium by which the process is delivered is already in people’s hands, being used. It is effortless.

The beauty of Facebook Messenger is that, as we’ve seen, billions of people (literally) are already using it. We understand how it works; it’s nothing new so we don’t have to learn how to operate a new system. Once you’ve sketched out your flow diagram for your process, you create a bot for it and your customers/clients/ fans can interact and benefit from it right away without any instructions or frustrations of learning a new process.


The burger menu offers direct support in the form of prompts or simply a menu of options. Once again, creating an effortless, even instinctive (for your consumer) process. Interacting with a bot to our modern day generation is as easy as riding a bike. No need to download an app, no need to think. With the ability to add buttons into Messenger, users can click through really easily to another website, video, shopping cart – whatever you like. Go check out the WMAS bot.

Bots have been around for years in various guises but with Messenger we have an outlet to reach more people than ever before. The market exists. Now it’s time to use the tools which have been waiting for this moment for decades.

Syd Lawrence is co-founder of We Make Awesome Sh and was a recent guest on The Drum's #SMBuzzchat

Digital Transformation Facebook Chatbots

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