You’re trying to make weekend plans with friends but instead you’re stuck in a group chat that never ends. From trying to find a time that works for everyone to picking an activity, it’s a mess. What if you could choose a time, reserve a table, and even order a ride all from the same app? If you can do that then you must be chatting on the Facebook Messenger app.
In fact, not only can you make weekend plans, you can check the game score, play games against friends, let your friends know your location, and even send payments through Messenger Chat Extensions and chatbots.
Discover Tab Chatbots in Facebook Messenger
Even a year after Messenger opened up to chatbots almost 80 percent of Americans are unaware of their existence on the platform. Messenger has spent the last year refining the chatbots interfaces, which included rolling out quick reply buttons that suggested responses for people to use and added in-app web views to carry out actions that would be too difficult to complete only using message bubbles. The latest chatbot update introduced a persistent menu that allows for a graphic interface rather than a conversational interface.
With over 100,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger the platform is now making those bots both easier to find and use. The Discover section for bots actually showcases both bot and non-bot businesses. In fact, any Facebook Page that has enabled messaging and has earned Facebook’s responsiveness badge can apply to appear in the Discover tab. Users will be able to browse by categories that include entertainment, news, lifestyle, and finance.
For now, the bot store isn’t really a store, it’s all free. And, at least for the moment, there won’t be any sponsored placements in the Discover tab.
Chat Extensions Chatbots
The Facebook Messenger Discover tab isn’t the only place within the tool where users can interact with chatbots. Using Messenger’s new Chat Extensions bots can be added into existing conversations between friends.
It’s through Chat Extensions that you can organize that dinner get together using OpenTable if you’re going out or Food Network if you’re the one hosting dinner. Within a Messenger conversation you simply tap the “+” button on the keyboard to be shown a horizontal carousel of bots that you have interacted with before and that have enabled Chat Extensions. Selecting a bot will pull up a specific mobile page that the bot creator has designed for the Chat Extensions feature.
For example, the Food Network bot gives you a tidbit of information and a recipe. From there you can tell the bot to surprise you, browse recipes, and even watch videos. OpenTable uses your location to pull up restaurants near you and then has drop down menus where you can indicate the number in your party, the date and time you’d like a reservation, and a list of restaurants to pick from.
At this time chatbots cannot be added into an existing conversation using the Mentions feature and @-reply to a bots account. If you decide to add a movie to your dinner outing you can’t @Fandango, you would need to go to the Fandango bot to see movie times.
M Recommends Chatbots
Facebook Messenger’s virtual assistant M can also suggest bots based on conversations. If you type you owe me $20 into a conversation M will suggest you use its payments feature. If a conversation is centered around meeting somewhere M could recommend ordering a Lyft or Uber.
M can also suggest timed reminders, location sharing, and group chat polls. Messenger is working on extending the feature to more bots, beginning with ones used for ordering food. Currently the feature is limited to delivery.com, but Messenger expects to extend it beyond food ordering.
Another new tab on Facebook Messenger is the Games tab, located both next to the Discover tab where you find chatbots and within Chat Extensions. Messenger has added turn-by-turn games to the offering so that people can trade moves during games.
How Chatbots Help Marketers
When users open a Chat Extension’s web view their page-scoped user ID will be passed along to the bot where the bot developer can add their ID to a list and then target those users with ads across Facebook. The bot developer could also use the information gained through the user ID to see if the person had previously logged in to its app or site.
Is your business utilizing chatbots? With the addition of the Discover tab and Chat Extensions Facebook is making a push to make chatbots easier to find and use. With 1.2 billion users on Messenger, Facebook wants to make the platform the default way users and businesses communicate.