Messenger Chatbots 101

Have you noticed this new cool tool available on Facebook? Chatbots for Messenger.

They’re the latest addition to your marketing toolbox. But what are they exactly, how do they work, what can you do with them and… should you have one on your Page? Let’s talk about that.

Photo by Zapp2Photo/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Zapp2Photo/iStock / Getty Images

What is a Messenger Chatbot?


You’re probably familiar with Facebook Messenger, it’s a messaging app that allows you to have private conversations with people or pages. It is a feature that a lot of brands use for customer support, too.

You may also have heard of bots, those small programs that automate some actions. They got quite a bad reputation in the past, because they were (over)used on Twitter, Instagram and other networks to mass perform actions such as automate replies or follow people for example. So we often think of them as a tool to easily spam people.

Well, a Messenger Chatbot is a bot that can automate conversations on Messenger. But that doesn’t mean it will spam people (we don’t want that) or will perform mass actions. The bot will simply have an automated conversation with someone who requested it and agreed to it. There, no spam.


What can Messenger Chatbots do?

Is Artificial Intelligence finally there, I hear you ask? Well, sorry to disappoint you, this is not really the case.

There are mainly 2 things you can do with a Messenger Chatbot:

  • Give information and ask the person to click buttons or give pre-determined answers, and that triggers the next message in a pre-established scenario
  • Answer frequently asked questions based on keywords used in them.

There is zero artificial intelligence involved there, this is all basic programming of automated replies. And with the second type of ChatBot (answering frequent questions) the conversation can quickly become frustrating, in my opinion. Kind of like when Siri doesn’t understand what you want.

So at this stage, I think it is best to use Messenger Chatbots for what they do best: give people information, in a fun and interactive way.


How do Messenger Chatbots work exactly?

You simply link your Facebook Page to a third-party app through the API. There are many apps now that you can use to build Messenger Chatbots, such as Chatfuel, Manychat, MobileMonkey, Botsify, Motion, Chatty People, Itsalive …

On that app you will create the whole sequence, or conversation you want your chatbot to have with people who are interested.

As I said, the chatbot will only reply to people who first requested a conversation. It has to be triggered by something, which could be:

  •  An embedded button on your website, within an article
  •  A landing page
  • An overlay on your website: popup, box, bar…
  • An interaction with a post or an ad on your Facebook page

Let’s focus on that last point for a minute. Yes, you can post on your Facebook page and tell people about your chatbot, and encourage them to sign up just by leaving a comment. And you can promote that post. In this case, you will benefit from a better quality score for your ad because of all the comments you’re going to receive, which will help keep your price low!

But it’s really interesting that you can get people to subscribe from outside of the Facebook/Messenger environment: that makes chatbots even more powerful.

Once a person has taken the necessary step to subscribe, a Messenger conversation is started, that follows the scenario you created for this particular chatbot.


Do I need a chatbot?

A chatbot is just another marketing tool. The first question you need to answer for yourself is: can this fit in my marketing strategy and help me reach my goals? And only you can know that.

But there are quite a few benefits from using a ChatBot at the time of writing this (December 2017)

  • Chatbots are relatively new and not yet used much, which means people find them cool and innovative, and they’re very likely to request a conversation with your chatbot if you’re offering interesting content
  • Because Messenger is not spammed with ads (yet) we tend to open all the messages we get really quickly. A first message from a chatbot has an opening rate of over 97%. And because people think chatbots are cool, the click rate is pretty high too.
  • People can opt-out from a chatbot when they want, but until they do, they are subscribed to you. Of course you should be very clear upfront about the content you’re going to send them, but this means that you can use chatbot to let your subscribers know every time there is a new post on your site, for example. Or to send them promotions or coupons.
  • Chatbots are very versatile and can work for a lot of different businesses, in B2B and B2C
  • You can embed images, gifs and vidéos in a chatbot, as well as cards linking to your website or products. You can send PDF documents, too. You are not limited to text only. So, you can be really creative with them.

Want to see for yourself how a Messenger Chatbot works? You can try this one if you haven’t yet :



Want to discuss how a Chatbot could help grow your business? Let’s talk! 


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Marie-Helene Dibenedetto