Facebook’s Broad Ambitions Include a New Engagement Platform for Businesses

Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference kicked off uncharacteristically with Mark Zuckerberg saying, “So today we're going to do something a little different, we're going to walk through our roadmap for the next ten years.”

What followed offered a high-level view of all of Facebook’s different efforts and what would change in the next 10 years as it works to fulfill its mission to “give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.”

An impassioned Zuck called for bringing people together and building bridges, not walls. Eloquent prose was punctuated by sobering statistics like 4B people not having Internet access. Facebook’s ambitions were made more real by the lengths to which it is going, including building its own massive aircraft to beam access to the ground at 60,000 feet for months at a time.

More down-to-earth, just as ambitious, but clearly commercial in nature, were its plans to give every business with a Facebook page the ability to create a chatbot for the Facebook Messenger Platform with potential reach to its 900M users.

We believe messaging apps opening up as engagement channels for business could be as monumental as app platforms enabling instant reach through notifications. Both offer a direct line to customers, with chatbots further reducing the friction of serving more customers with lightweight, service-oriented interactions.

With Messenger users already sending businesses more than 1 billion messages a month, chatbots could be a great complement to a company’s current mobile strategy. If a business hasn’t invested in an app, chatbots could offer a lightweight method for transactional messaging and guided experiences. For businesses with branded apps and mobile wallet items, chatbot interactions can guide people to discover and adopt them for relevant and rich experiences. The interplay of these different interaction models will feed off each other, creating great experiences for consumers and incredible insights for brands.

A Growing Engagement Opportunity

We think that Urban Airship’s technology is uniquely suited for great engagement, across apps, mobile wallets and now chatbots, with interactive messaging that’s automated and personalized. We can make it easier and faster for businesses to deliver personalized chatbot experiences at scale with interactions and data flowing through to the rest of the business.

Today, these capabilities are focused on apps and mobile wallets, but this same type of service-first messaging can be used elsewhere. For example, retailers could enable chatbot users to effortlessly track shipments, request in-store concierge service, ask product questions or get the brand’s mobile loyalty card. Through simple button taps within chatbot interactions, media companies can enable users to select topics and follow stories to receive updates.

What Do You Think?

Now that the Facebook Messenger Platform is available in beta, we’re experimenting with it. Our goal is help you create great engagement with your customers, wherever they are.

So what are your thoughts? Are Facebook Messenger bots going to be a thing? We want to hear from you. Reach out to your account manager or fill out our brief survey to tell us what you think.