In-Scope: So, you want to build a Messenger Bot?

Lisa Leicester is a Social Manager for OMD Create Sydney, solving client challenges with a range of innovative social content solutions.

When advertising opportunities first opened on Messenger, we were among the first to activate for our clients. To date we’ve created three Messenger Bots. That number might not seem large but there is a lot of time invested into creating just one Bot.

Each Bot we created had its own hurdles – that, I won’t deny. I had to learn fast and found there wasn’t a lot of support out there as Bots were still relatively new. It was very much learning/problem solving on the go.

To save you from having as many hurdles as I did, I’m laying down the 4 things I wish I knew before I created my first Messenger Bot.

1. Where will it live

This is usually an afterthought but it’s important to know from the start where your Bot will live. Will it be on the brand’s Facebook page or will it be on a separate Facebook page created specifically for the Bot?

We’ve created Bots that have been housed on the brand’s page and on a separate page. There’s pros and cons to both and it’s important to understand these when deciding.

Brand’s Facebook page:

Pro: Anyone who messages the page will be served the Bot.

Con: Can make community management difficult as the community manager will have to filter out the messages that need to be replied to from the Bot conversations. Speak to your developer about this, there are solutions!

Separate Facebook page:

Pro: No issues with community management.

Con: Limit the organic discovery of the Bot as they will only find it through paid advertising.

There’s no right or wrong answer, just make sure the decision is informed and you understand the impact of the decision.

2. Let your user speak

The benefit of a Bot is that the user can speak back to it. Make sure you’re not just speaking at your user. Give the user opportunities to get involved and let the Bot know what they want/need.

There are three ways you can involve the user:

  1. Quick Replies – these are little button options that don’t take up a lot of screen real estate that the user can quickly tap as a reply.
  2. Buttons – these take up more real estate but are perfect for any bigger pieces of content you want to put in a Bot for example a carousel or image.
  3. Free-text – you can enable the free-text functionality which means your user can write anything, like what they would if they were texting their friend. Warning! – this does require more development work as your Bot will need to have Natural Language Processing (NLP)

3. Leave breathing room

Remember this is a conversation in a more relaxed environment. Think about how you use the Messenger platform yourself and imitate this for your Bot.

The biggest thing you can imitate to create a natural flowing conversation is pacing. I don’t send my friend 10 messages in one go, I send them one and then might send another after a few seconds. I’ll then wait for them to reply before continuing.

Your Bot should therefore give your user time to process the messages.

Rule of thumb is when you’re testing the Bot, read each word in the message. If 3 other messages pop up before you’re even finished with the first message, then you need to put some time delays in. Time it so the first message pops up then 3 seconds later the second one does.

It’s a minor detail but can make all the difference to the user’s experience.

4. Your developer partner is everything

Picking the right developer partner is critical for an easy and successful Bot set up. If it’s your very first time creating a Bot, it can be hard to get a feel for a developer you haven’t worked with before.

Beyond pricing, I’ve learnt to ask a few upfront questions to understand the developer more. The main question I ask is if they can send through some recommendations for the functionality of the Bot.

A good developer will always work with you on streamlining the user experience of the Bot. Communicating upfront that you want the Bot build to be a collaborative experience sets the tone for that working relationship. It also ensures that any and all new technical functionalities are built into the scope of work from the very start.Building a Messenger Bot has been the highlight of my career to date. It’s an exciting space for brands to play in that can deliver results. The capabilities of Bots are constantly changing, and I doubt I’ll ever stop learning when it comes to creating them.

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