We’ve previously blogged about the current and future capabilities of artificial intelligence in digital marketing, plus the pros and cons of using chatbots to represent your brand, and this got us thinking.
Despite the obvious advantages of streamlining your business to provide online customers with a speedier service, does this technological advancement mesh with the ethos of social media to be transparent and authentic? Or do they stick out like a pineapple in the snow?
Could Robots Take Over the Social World?
Last year may have been the ‘year of mobile’, but 2016 is most definitely the time where instant messaging apps take over.
According to fact portal Statista, more than a billion people now use WhatsApp worldwide, 900million use Facebook Messenger, and 853million use QQ Mobile. Messaging apps are soaring in popularity and are the ‘it’ platform of the moment, and automated chatbots could be the future for brands looking to master this medium.
They can answer your customer service enquiries, act as your own personal shopper or provide you with discounts to entice a purchase; however, in this infant stage, there are lessons to be learnt.
Back in March, Microsoft released ‘Tay’ a Twitter chatbot that resembled a pixelated woman, but within 16 hours she was no more. Why? Well, people simply outsmarted the chatbot and tricked poor Tay into making insulting statements about the World Wars and 9/11, so Microsoft pulled the plug and took her down.
Personalised, Yet Not Personal
They address you by name, wish you a happy birthday and remember your tastes, but chatbots can’t quite offer the personable approach a real person can – after all, pre-programmed tech can only go so far.
Exhibit A: Chatbots can represent brands’ customer service departments by handling complaints using automated responses to frequently asked questions. However, if you have a specific issue, a phone call to speak to a real person is almost certainly required.
Admittedly, this system is likely to reduce the number of calls made, and therefore customer hold times, but limited responses are sure to frustrate chatbot users. Which is the worst of two evils?
So, Do Chatbots Mesh with Social Media?
Yes, but you’ll only be successful if you’re ethical with your practises.
Our Top Tips for Mastering Messaging Apps
• There are multiple companies out there who provide randomly generated names and stock images to make their service appear more ‘human’, when it is in fact a bot. Our advice? Never masquerade the true nature of your customer service messaging service. People aren’t stupid and these apps are built on the premise of ‘authenticity’, you’ll simply lose trust in your brand when caught out.
• If you’re thinking of adopting one of these apps, keep the core principal in mind: one-on-one communications between brand and customer. Functionality is key: you could have the best looking, most-widely marketed tool out there, but it has to be effective.
• Encryption is essential for online security. This is simple enough on a private channel, but can get a little tricky when it comes to apps.
• Chatbots should be integrated with existing systems, rather than being solely depended on.
What are your thoughts? Do chatbots and social media make a match made in heaven for brands? Tweet us your thoughts @Figaro_Digital.