Why Content Marketers Should Take Advantage of Chatbots and Messaging Apps Right Now

Are messaging apps the content distribution channel of 2016? In many ways, yes.

That’s because at this very moment, content marketers can interact directly with content consumers in a space that’s as uncluttered as an AOL inbox in 1993. It won’t be like this for long, but those who immediately take action will likely enjoy a window of undivided attention before the competition shows up.

One of the best opportunities today is inside Facebook Messenger. Back in April, the social media behemoth began allowing brands and publishers to build chatbots that can interact with Messenger’s 900 million users. Within the first 90 days, many well-known names had built (or started to build) Messenger bots.

Brands Publishers
American Express Business Insider
Bank of America Complex
Burger King CNN
eBay Fusion
Expedia Mic
Fandango NBC Breaking News
HP NowThis
1-800-Flowers TechCrunch
KLM Thrillist
Mondelēz The Wall Street Journal
NBA The Washington Post
Salesforce
Staples
StubHub

While most brands are using their bot for customer service or account updates, those with robust content libraries can get more out of it. For inspiration, let’s examine how publishers are using Messenger bots:

If you made it to the end of the Wall Street Journal demo, you noticed that Messenger users can ask a bot for stock market performance by typing something like “$AAPL.” While that may not seem meaningful at first, here’s how brands can utilize that same functionality to deliver their content:

  • New Balance – users type “running” to get top five workouts
  • Sargento – users type “queso” to get the top five recipes
  • The Home Depot – users type “kitchen” to get top five projects

So what’s the level of effort to create a Messenger bot? It’s not as much as you’d think. While some have outsourced bot development to companies like Chatfuel, Conversable and Spectrm, both NBC Breaking News and Fusion tapped a single internal resource to build their bots.

If you’re skeptical about the ROI, consider this: CNN, one of the first publishers to build a Facebook Messenger bot, is encouraged by the interactions it’s seen so far. In a May interview with Digiday, Chief Product Officer Alex Wellen said users were spending about two minutes with their bot (per session). What’s more significant is that the number of users asking the bot questions was in the double digits.

Wellen’s comments, however, hint that Messenger’s greatest strength — enabling one-to-one conversations — may also be its greatest weakness. “The fidelity relies on how advanced these chat bots are, and how we make them more chat than bot. We all know what it feels like to talk to an automated service.”

As such, Wellen and CNN are looking to personalize their bot’s recommendations, much in the way OneSpot has helped brands individually personalize site and email content. This is critically important when you realize that users of the top four messaging apps outnumber users of the top four social media apps, the primary content distribution channel for most brands.

With messaging app users expected to hit the 2 billion mark in the next two years, there’s no time like the present when it comes to distributing content via Messenger, Kik and other chat-friendly services. If you’re still kicking yourself for not utilizing Snapchat before they monetized, apps like Facebook Messenger can provide your brand with a second chance at free content exposure.

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