The Social Revolution
Social media networks are dramatically changing the way in which we converse with each other. Mobile messaging is now the predominant form of communication.
If businesses wish to stay competitive then they must engage with their audience on their audience’s terms. Platforms like Facebook, Telegram and Instagram are the go-to places for chat on a wealth of different subjects. Increasingly, customers expect to engage with businesses on these messaging channels.
But how do you go about extending already stretched resources to meet your customers on these ever growing, non-stop, chat-fuelled media channels?
This is where social media chatbots come in.
Automated, always on, and conversationally savvy, social media chatbots can be deployed to meet your audience and leverage conversations right across the social network—and in doing so make your business presence felt in a variety of beneficial ways.
This article summarizes some of the key areas of bot deployment and the potential benefits it might bring to operational efficiency, services, transactions, marketing strategy and sales.
But before we attempt to do all that let’s address a few basic questions.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human to human interactions. This enables them to automatically engage with messages in a range of different ways, and across a number of communication channels—ranging from web applications to social media.
Depending on the conversational ability of the chatbot, it can respond in either a “rule based” way, or “intelligently”, using AI.
Chatbots belonging to the latter group are often described as fully automated intelligent machines.
What are Social Media or Social Bots?
As the name suggests, social media chatbots or “social bots” are designed to be implemented on popular social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, among others.
Social media chatbots have the ability to automate and optimize business customer support, marketing and sales strategies.
Social bot features such as call-to-action buttons (CTAs), quick replies, welcome messages and bulk actions, offer engaging and dynamic alternatives to traditional forms of online engagement—giving businesses that employ them a competitive edge over the competition.
Because of these interactive skills, social media chatbots thrive on social media forums, where they can more easily influence and leverage SMS, chat windows, and instant messaging services.
Social bots can be engineered to display distinct personalities to fit every context—making them even more adaptable.
As a prelude to a closer examination of the benefits of chatbot implementation and deployment, let’s consider for a moment the technology that makes it all possible.
The Driving Intelligence Behind Chatbots
As hinted at earlier, there are essentially two varieties of chatbot: Rule-based and AI artificial intelligence.
Rule-based social media chatbots employ pre-established, “scripted” responses to questions. They do this by mapping conversations in a predefined direction or flow. A conversation flow that you are entirely in control of.
However, rule-based chatbots are not conversational adept and do not have the capacity to learn from interactions. This means they are incapable of recognizing intent—so typos are out—and would struggle to find meaning outside a specific context. Again predefined.
Conversely, AI powered chatbots incorporate Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) to facilitate more contextualized and intelligent interactions.
As a result, AI bots are much more conversationally advanced, capable of learning, and able to establish contexts and intentions, than rule-based varieties of chatbot.
Benefits of Social Media Chatbots
Now that we are all reading from the same page, let’s move onto the benefits of social media chatbot deployment specifically.
Improved Customer Service
A key function of social media chabot deployment is to improve customer support and with it the quality of the overall customer experience, or as it is commonly abbreviated, CX.
By enabling a 24/7 automated presence on social media, social bots are always on hand to respond to questions or offer advice. These interactions can come in the form of interactive FAQs, resolving issues, assisting transactions, or making highly personalized suggestions, to name but a few.
These attributes, combined with enhanced ai conversational abilities, provide a significant spur to customer-centric engagements on social media.
Boost Customer Engagement
Boosting customer engagement is what social media chatbots are all about.
Chatbot deployment can considerably increase your presence and reach on social media platforms. On facebook alone 2 billion customers engage with business on a monthly basis. This gives you an idea of the marketing and sales potential of such interactions.
Moreover, a social chatbot’s capacity for automated instant communication with a variety of customers on multiple channels, gives it a distinct advantage over a human agent in the same field.
A bot can be in many places at once to provide help, information, and guidance, in whichever area, niche, or “vertical”, in a way that humans simply can not.
The fact that chatbots can be personalized for specific contexts means that they will always be on message and capable of delivering the “right” voice for any given context or channel of communication.
A social bots’ algorithm monitors user social media posts to formulate content based on customer data, such as social network preferences and purchase histories.
Studies suggest that 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that delivers a personalized, tailored experience.
Tone, voice and language are all customizable features of social bot building. Once they have been decided on, the chatbot will never deviate and will always stay on message—delivering reassuring consistency across a range of services.
Broader Marketing Appeal
Modern customer engagement is all about extending beyond the confines of a traditional website landing page. Customers need to reach you on the platforms that they are already on.
Being able to interact with audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Telegram, Slack and Instagram, is necessary if businesses are to remain relevant and competitive.
A social media bot gives you unfettered access to these channels of communication to get your brand message out there. This automated, expanded reach, means you can tap into conversation histories and engage with new and existing customers in innovative ways, employing features like CTAs, re-posts, segmenting and bulk actions.
This is perhaps why 92% of digital marketers believe that conversational marketing and a social media strategy are essential to the success of their business.
Actionable Customer Data
Social bots not only interact with customers on social media, but they also gather actionable customer data.
This data yields valuable information and insights into customer behavior, purchase histories, habits, preferences, and a host of other traits, which can directly inform your social media strategy.
Social media bots—particularly those of the AI kind—are able to harness this user data in the service of improved customer support, sales and marketing strategies.
By actively monitoring consumer posts on social media, as well as any data gathered on the platforms themselves, social bots are able to deliver continually improving levels of personalization, in terms of services, products and promotions.
The Learning Game
That’s all very well, you might ask?. But how does a social media chatbot learn from past interactions?
The answer to that question is something called Machine Learning.
ML powered social bots use customer data in combination with algorithms to emulate a human’s capacity to learn through experience.
This gives a social media bot an advantage in conversationally driven, chat based environments, putting it very much in command when it comes to answering questions and taking part in conversational marketing on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Machine Learning ensures the gaining of knowledge with each successive interaction.
The Decision Tree
But how can chatbots be so precise in their answers, you might ask?
Well that’s where the decision tree comes in. A decision tree takes initial questions at the “root” stage and then through a process of narrowing down customer intent along the “branches” finally arrives at its “leaves” with an answer.
This kind of precision dramatically improves transactional efficiency and the overall CX.
Insights into customer behavior are a vital component of social bot implementation.
Social media bot platforms facilitate the analysis of these insights, to give you a better understanding of your customers’ preferences and habits. Some chatbots can even be connected to your CRM. This level of integration better facilitates the mapping and understanding of the buying journey.
All of which is a boon to social media marketing strategy and the development of finely honed client-centric services.
Social bot analytics are vital when it comes to formulating effective social media strategy.
Automated Lead Generation and Qualification
By their very nature, social bots engender better lead generations and qualifications. The cornerstones of business growth.
As previously stated, social bots have the ability to draw on knowledge bases gathered from previous interactions on social media, and to craft more personalized bespoke interactions.
This increased ability to personalize, combined with instant automated responses, facilitates the speedier pre-qualification of sales—Which in turn reduces the time it takes to transfer leads to a sales team or CRM.
Chatbots dedicated to lead generation can initiate and cultivate leverageable relationships with prospects.
In sales terms, greater relevance facilitates faster conversions.
As a footnote to lead generation, it is worth mentioning the process known as “segmentation”.
Segmentation is the name given to the targeting of different groups for specific products and services.
By again drawing on customer knowledge bases, social media bots specialize in this kind of market “segmentation”, to more effectively tailor products, branding and an overall marketing strategy.
The ability to convert chat into an actionable interaction is a key feature of chatbot implementation. By personalizing social media conversation flows, bots increase the likelihood of social network conversions.
Social bots deliver tailor made products and services to your customers, while never losing sight of predefined sales goals and social media strategy.
Chatbot features such as call-to-action buttons are an interactive way to increase the likelihood of customer conversions.
Integrated experiences are all the rage and should be a key component of any social media strategy. You need to be able to meet the demands of your customers on whichever channel they happen to be on. Put differently, it’s essential to deliver your support and message to wherever your customers interact with your brand.
This is where omnichannel features come into their own. An omnichannel bot enables highly personalized interactions across numerous platforms—such as web, Facebook Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, Twitter, Zoom, etc.
Working in combination with unified inboxes—allowing you to conveniently manage all your conversations in one place—omnichannel bots provide seamless social network integration and a real fillip to conversational marketing strategies.
The high-level of automation that social bots bring to services and social media marketing strategy not only lessens the burden on human personnel, but also the financial implications of scaling up operations to meet customer needs or the demands of conversational marketing campaigns.
Social media chatbots significantly reduce the dependency on human agents to man social media channels. This not only reduces manpower costs by as much as 30% but also increases operational efficiency, courtesy of 24/7 automation.
This improved efficiency also impacts on a wide range of internal processes. For example social bots can schedule meetings, manage tasks, and encourage communication between employees.
It is worth noting that hybrid approaches to social media participation are an option with some social media chatbot platforms.
Despite the fact that bots invariably simplify conversations on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, a chatbot to human “handoff” should remain a workable alternative in your social media strategy. Social bots which incorporate a “human in the loop” plug gaps in support and offer the best in hybrid solutions.
Social Media Strategies
Now that we have reviewed the capabilities of social media chatbot deployment, let’s look at some key strategic areas of their deployment.
Buying Journey Assistance
“Awareness”, “consideration” and “decision” are the three key stages of a buyer’s journey.
Social media chatbots can be implemented to assist at every point of this journey. Social bots provide bespoke welcomes with click-to-messenger ads, make product recommendations, and assist in decision making by detailing product information and answering any product related questions a customer might have. They can even process transactions.
And if there’s any indecision, a social bot can lure customers back to the buying journey with “abandoned cart” reminders and sponsored Facebook messages.
Proactive customer interaction of this kind ensures that social bots can assist customers during the transactional stages of buying, as well as being able to initiate conversations with prospective customers.
Offering the right conversation flow is beneficial to both customers, businesses and conversion rates. Studying each customer and their journey can lead to actionable improvements in chatbot responses and behavior.
Helping Customers Along The Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is a visual representation of the journey that buyers take from being “visitors” to becoming “customers” and is a way in which to classify contacts. The topmost widest part of the funnel is the point farthest away from buying, while the bottom is the nearest.
Social bot automation significantly streamlines customer journeys through this sales funnel. Chatbot lead qualification and segmentation, in the form of personalized messaging, can guide visitors along the sales funnel and significantly improve conversions.
By mining and analyzing customer data, social media chatbots know how to direct a customer, as well as being able to predict what information to provide him. In this way, leads can be conveyed to sales representatives, or a CRM team, in a much more timely fashion than would otherwise be the case.
The five main stages of inbound methodology are: “strangers”, “visitors”, “leads”, “customers” and “promoters”.
The idea behind inbound methodology is to marry the objectives of the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel, and in the process turn contented “customers” into “promoters”.
A social chatbot’s ability to deliver engaging, personalized content significantly boosts the chances of customers recommending your business to others.
From Insight to Foresight—Marketing Strategy
As we have seen, social media chatbots can gather and analyze user histories and conversations to provide valuable insights into future customer behavior.
These “data-driven” insights are highly actionable in relation to a wide range of business strategies, not least conversational marketing. Social bots can “engage”, “understand” and “recommend” to deliver personalised services based on conversation qualified leads, or CQLs.
By drawing on these live chat repositories, chatbots are transforming the definition of human to machine relations.
Key Bot Automation Features
Before we end, let us consider four automation features common to most social bot platforms, which are worthy of mention:
1. Welcome Messages
Welcome messages “proactively” greet users via message channels, like the Private Message channel of your Facebook account.
This greeting can be used to say hello and provide engaging instructions on what to do next.
A welcome message is the starting point of an entire conversation flow. Much depends on this initial greeting.
2. Quick Replies
Quick Replies are “clickable” buttons that continue where Welcome Messages end. This is achieved by offering suggestions as to the best responses to Welcome Messages. In other words, Quick Replies direct conversation by using topics as navigational signposts.
Social bots’ multiple Quick Reply options synthesize the world of customer support, sales and brand marketing with helpful and engaging content.
Image responses can be set up to correspond to each Quick Reply and configured to end with a call to action (CTA).
Once created Quick Replies can usually be dragged and dropped into the conversation map interface—which is where they reside.
The number of Quick Replies available to you depends on your bot platform and plan.
3. Auto Responses
Auto Responses further streamline the conversation flow.
Social bots employ Auto-Responses to join the dots between Welcome Messages and Quick Replies.
This is invariably done through formulating custom responses to the Quick Reply selected by a customer. Auto-Responses facilitate faster communications, and range from confirmations of the receipt of a message, to abandoned cart reminders.
4. Call-To-Action Buttons
Call-to-action buttons drive chatbot conversations toward a specific goal of your choosing.
CTAs can be designed to lead customers to specific products, content, or even a checkout page.
A well placed chatbot CTA button can be a powerful conversion tool. Deploy with care.
Set the Controls for the Social Media Matrix
So there we have it. The benefits of maintaining a strong social media presence to boost performance and engagement are obvious. Facebook’s breathtaking adoption rates alone make Facebook Messenger Chatbot a mouthwatering marketing prospect.
Social bots create new, more interactive forms of conversation, which yield greater dividends in terms of sales, marketing and customer support outcomes.
Around the clock automation, combined with real conversational gusto, means social media chatbots unlock entirely new marketing channels. Channels in which brand experience and marketing campaigns are optimized to the full.
When it comes to maximizing marketing strategy or customer relations based interactions on Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels, social bots have all the features and functionality needed to keep you firmly rooted in the e-commerce matrix.
Q. What are social media chatbots?
A. Social media chatbots are designed to be implemented on popular social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Instagram and Twitter.
Boasting 24/7 real-time automation, social media chatbots deliver around the clock customer engagement, customer support, and the ability to fashion unique sales and marketing opportunities.
Because of these interactive skills, social media chatbots flourish on social media platforms, where they can effectively leverage conversation flows.
Q. Why are chatbots important in social media?
A. Social media has redefined the way in which businesses and customers interact with one another. Social media platforms are increasingly the go-to channels for advice, information and service.
Social media chatbots can harvest customer details, field questions, recommend products, and even complete transactions, in an automated and highly engaging way.
This level of conversational interaction provides a significant impetus to sales and marketing campaigns, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience.
Businesses use chatbots to leverage social media conversations to their full advantage.
Q. What are Facebook chatbots?
A. A Facebook chatbot is a bot that resides in Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger chatbots can collect customer information, answer questions, provide product information, and even process transactions, in an automated and highly engaging way.
To further leverage conversations between humans and bots, Facebook has incorporated some tools of its own, including web plugins, codes and links, and customer “matching” features.
The benefits of tapping into the world’s largest social media platform are fairly self-evident.
Q. Is building a chatbot difficult?
A. Building a bot for Facebook Messenger, Twitter or any other social media platform has never been easier. Thanks to no-code chatbot platforms, any business can design and deploy a social media chatbot to suit its own particular business requirements and sector of activity.
Drag and drop, template based bot builders allow you to specify great money customizations from the tone of voice of your chatbot to the questions it asks.
This level of customization brings the full benefits of social media engagement within the reach of most businesses, at scale, and for every budget.