- Facebook Messenger, the social network’s messaging app with 1.3 billion users, wants to help more small businesses develop chatbots on its platform as part of a promotion for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25. The company is hosting a “bot makeover contest” that will award three small businesses with a new chatbot created by bot development platform ManyChat, according to a press release made available to Mobile Marketer.
- As part of its outreach to small businesses, Messenger on Tuesday hosted a live Q&A panel featuring small-business expert Gene Marks, Messenger head Stefanos Loukakos and master business coach Aprille Franks-Hunt, who shared her experience of using Messenger.
- Facebook said industries like professional services, retail, public good and local entertainment are especially likely to use the Messenger platform to interact directly with customers. The company provided instructions on how to turn on messaging on Facebook Pages that can include a call-to-action button, instant replies and away messages.
The news suggests the reach of chatbots into the business and marketing worlds will continue to expand. With mobile customers increasingly likely to use chat platforms instead of making phone calls or sending emails to reach friends, family and companies, businesses of all sizes need to consider how messaging will change the way they engage customers. Facebook Messenger wants to expand its user base among small businesses that may not have the financial resources to create an elaborate online presence with a state-of-the-art website that provides 24-hour live customer support.
As part of its pitch to small businesses, Facebook cites a study it commissioned with Nielsen to examine how people use the Messenger app. Sixty-three percent of people said their messaging with businesses has increased over the past two years, and 67% expect to increase those interactions over the next two years. More than 330 million people this year connected with a small business on Messenger for the first time, the company said, pointing to the significant potential smaller companies have with directly interacting with a large group of mobile consumers.
Meanwhile, Messenger is used by more than half the population across all age-groups, with 58% of people who use the app saying they use it every day. In another survey Facebook commissioned with researcher Greenberg, respondents said they increased their usage of communication channels in the past two years by messaging (67%), social media (48%), email (47%), video chat (47%) and face-to-face (38%). Facebook and Greenberg found that the rise of messaging didn’t mean the end of face-to-face conversations. Among the people who are messaging more than they did two years ago, 52% said they were more likely to talk face-to-face compared with those who aren’t messaging more. With that kind of usage, small businesses should consider how to include messaging in their communications with smartphone-toting customers, as these numbers point to the idea that consumers are ready and willing to use a social media chat platform to directly interact with businesses.