Making phone calls to businesses could be a thing of the past if Facebook has its way. The company officially launched Bots on Messenger, its version of chatbots, which allows you to interact with businesses straight from the Facebook Messenger app.
The tools will allow brands to bypass the creation of complicated communications systems and instead rely on Facebook’s pre-existing Messenger network, which now has 900 million users. Chatbots are already being utilized by messaging apps, such as Kik, and were described as “the future of apps” by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The “Structured Messages” that chatbots will provide as part of their responses to users include information such as titles, images, URLs, and calls to action such as encouragement to visit a website, review an online order, or make a reservation at a restaurant.
The Live Chat plugin, on the other hand, allows businesses to add a Messenger link to their websites, alongside other contact info. When a user taps on the “Message Us” button on a website, they will then be redirected to the Messenger app on their phone in order to interact with the business. The process will be no different than a general conversation on the platform, and will include regular features such as read-receipts and typing indicators.
A number of partners were announced at launch, including CNN and 1-800-Flowers, which, as Mark Zuckerberg pointed out at the F8 keynote, is ironic because you’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers again.
Facebook is already luring brands to use Messenger to sell their products, having previously added a payments system to the app. Thus far, the likes of ride-hailing service Uber and its counterpart Lyft have partnered with the app. Additionally, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is using Messenger to send flight updates to passengers, and Dropbox is using it to allow users to share files to contacts without having to copy and paste links to those files.
There are already forty chatbots available now. Here’s the complete list:
- Awesome PA
- Business on Messenger
- Cleo Video Texting
- Doodle for Messenger
- Dropbox on Messenger
- FlipLip Voice Changer
- GIF Keyboard
- GIF Quotes for Messenger
- GIFjam for Messenger
- Giphy for Messenger
- Imoji on Messenger
- Kanvas for Messenger
- Legend for Messenger
- Messenger Platform
- Noah Camera
- Qualcomm EmotionAR
- to.be Camera
- Uber on Messenger
- Wall Street Journal
Facebook will likely add a lot more bots soon, so check out BotList for an up-to-date list.
If they take off as much as many are expecting, chatbots could be a new front for businesses to sell their products, as well as offer new information about news, weather, and more. And because Messenger has so many users, the app is at the center of chatbox buzz. It will be a big part of the chatbot revolution going forward.
To chat with any of the bots above, just open the Facebook Messenger app and search for the chatbot name. When the bot appears in your results, tap on it to begin chatting.
Previously, Facebook announced new ways to start chats and add contacts on Messenger. Over the coming weeks, the platform will roll out URL chat links and Messenger Codes (that can be scanned like QR codes using a phone camera) for every account.
Updated on 04-13-2016 by Robert Nazarian: Added in the first batch of Bots on Messenger.
Updated on 04-12-2016 by Christian de Looper: Added info about launch of Bots on Messenger.