In case you had any doubt that one to one or group messaging is a hot topic at the moment, then this last week should convince you once and for all.
This week saw YouTube introduce in app messaging functionality as well as the wider Alphabet group releasing an entirely new app this week as well. It’s all about creating a place where people can share content amongst a groups of friends – it’s called, funnily enough, spaces – and it brings together search, YouTube and messaging.
But these new challengers probably won’t phase the kings of messaging Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (owned by Facebook anyway). Both of whom are already moving on to the next new thing – Bots. Bots or Chat bots have been around for a while but in the last few years the space has really taken off. Once the realm of annoying ads and porn – bots are now taking on a critical role. As mobile usage sees people using less apps, ‘dark social’ increases and the big content giants looking to keep people on platform rather than sending them off to destinations, bots offer the best possible way for brands to engage with people. And to do so in a way that genuinely adds value to the experience.
Not sure what a bot is? Let me explain.
Kik, another messaging platform, is already a fair way down the path with bots – I spent a good part of last night making friends with the H&M bot – who wanted to get to know my personal style preferences so that it could recommend the latest H&M styles that I might like. All of which were then just a click away from purchase. It all might sound a bit naff and weird but as natural language and machine learning combine with the huge volume of data that is generated in messages, these bots are going to become an indispensable part of the messaging experience. Imagine you are in a group chat arranging a meet up and want a restaurant recommendation – just add the yelp bot in to the chat, tell it where and when plus your food preferences and it will come back with the recommendation as well as a direct link to make a reservation. Or the 1800 flowers bot to order flowers. Essentially, imagine any task that you might need to do at some point in your week and odds are there is a chat bot on the way to allow you to do that all from within your chosen messaging app.
So as a marketer what is your messaging/bot strategy? Even more importantly as a user which bots will you make friends with. I for one am on-board, maybe it’s because they get me, or that they message you straight back and never get all passive aggressive if you don’t message them for a few days (yes Mum I’ve been busy). Whatever the case, bots are here to stay, so if you pass me texting in the hall just know that I may well be talking to a machine – and looking more fashionable for it!!
Oh and in case you were wondering Alphabet just announced a new app, it’s called Allo – and you guessed it – it’s an AI powered messaging app designed to integrate Google into the conversation.