- The Washington Post introduced a chatbot and a second collection of journalism-themed stickers for messaging app Viber, according to a blog post by the publication.
- The chatbot automatically sends users top headlines from five newspaper sections, and people can choose whether to get news updates daily or weekly. The feature includes a dashboard with options for readers to subscribe to the newspaper, watch original video content and invite friends to sign up for the chatbot. A new sticker pack has colorful text of journalism catchphrases like "off the record," and Washington Post-inspired graphics such as the Pinocchio illustrations from its Fact Checker blog.
- The newspaper has previously experimented with Viber, the Rakuten-owned messaging app used by more than 1 billion people worldwide, over the past few years as part of its push into mobile platforms.
Since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013, the newspaper has made a big push to expand its digital and mobile presence. That includes the development of chatbot technology that lets readers interact with content on messaging platforms like Viber and Facebook-owned WhatsApp. Viber's parent company Rakuten is a major competitor to Amazon in Japan, but that rivalry clearly hasn't stopped the Post from developing content for a messaging app with 1 billion users.
Chatbots have grown relatively popular in automating conversations with consumers after initially being derided as clunky and ineffective. About half of U.S. consumers (52%) enjoy using chat platforms to get quick answers to their customer service questions, but their reactions to chatbots tend to be less favorable, per a survey by enterprise software developer CGS. It found that 40% of U.S. consumers prefer speaking to a human because chatbots don't provide detailed answers and can be less helpful. However, nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers globally would like to use messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger or Apple's iMessage to securely interact with organizations, according to an Opinium Research survey commissioned by Salesforce's MuleSoft.
Digital stickers are a popular feature in chat apps like Viber, which claims that its users share more than 300,000 stickers a minute in their messages. Stickers give marketers a chance to seamlessly integrate fun brand imagery with user-generated content in messages. Not only do stickers have the power to go boost usage and brand awareness on social media, but they also can be linked to an action. When tapped, the Post's stickers give Viber users a chance to subscribe to the newspaper.