It should come as no surprise to most of us that the mobile app boom is over. The question is: what’s going to replace it?
For my money, it’s going to be bots. More precisely, chatbots on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, SnapChat, etc. All of these platforms are the new content delivery platforms that content marketers need to keep up with. Why you may ask? Well, before I reveal that, let’s take a step back and start at the beginning.
What’s All This Stuff About Bots Anyway?
Before we dig into the why and then the how, let me explain the different kinds of bots. I like to split bots into two basic types. The first is Artificial Intelligence (AI) based (think Amazon Alexa) and the second is Automated Help (AH) based (like automated phone systems).
AI-based bots use natural language processes of either text or voice to figure out what the user wants. The classic example is asking Alexa to play the latest news or start a kitchen timer. The computing horsepower and skill required to deploy such bots is beyond the average content marketer even if you have CS or engineering degree.
AH-based bots are more like your automated phone system where you press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer support, press 0 for a human, etc. This type is a more list of menus with some AI to recognize voice commands instead of relying on natural language. Implementing these types of bots is a lot easier. There are platforms, like ChatClub, that automate a lot of the development. More on that later when we talk about how we created a bot for one of our clients.
Content Marketers Need To Pay Attention to Bots
Chatbots have come a long, long way from those annoying automated phone systems. As I mentioned before, the app boom is over. So, where will your potential customers spend most of their time? It turns out mobile messaging apps have now surged past social media apps in popularity. This means that people prefer messaging to posting on feeds or even reading feeds. That makes a lot of sense considering how much social media noise there is out there. In my mind, bots are the new email opt in — you, as the user, choose to get updates.
Reason #1: Mobile messaging apps are surging past social media apps
Now, I’m sure some of you are shaking your head and saying, “apps will never die just like programs did not die on a desktop.” True you are but just like desktop apps moving to SaaS based apps, so will mobile apps and here is why. You really don’t need most apps to be native just like you don’t need desktop apps like a Word processor, Spreadsheet or name your app to be native. On mobile, it’s even more interesting since the UI is a lot more restrictive than a desktop — so all those desktop apps just don’t translate well to mobile. In fact, most smartphone users download zero apps per month. So what do they use their phones for?
It’s only a matter of time before the popular mobile apps (read messaging), figure out how to do exactly what SaaS guys did but catered to what people do on mobile — namely chat with friends, listen to music, check email, look for places to eat, and get directions. The OS vs Messaging App battle is on and since now most Internet usage is mobile for the first time ever. It’s time to create a better mobile experience.
Reason #2: Users are on mobile and don’t download apps anymore
There has been a movement afoot to make websites more mobile friendly. This is called Responsive Design and it mostly gets it right. The reason that companies want to reuse what they have already done is the whole build vs buy dilemma. At its essence, build vs buy is about costs to develop and it’s now getting more and more costly to develop custom apps. What this means is that brands are going to need to think long and hard about where to spend their development dollars since no one is downloading them.
This give messaging applications an opportunity to provide a SuperApp to do most things people do on mobile — namely chat, search, and purchase. This is a powerful concept since most people are using a chat or messenger platform a lot more than anything else and the average app loses 75% of it’s users after one day — not a good ROI for app development at all.
Reason #3: SuperApp platforms will transform the content experience on mobile
Messaging platforms are a big deal and every content marketer needs to have a strategy on how to create content and engagement on these platforms. The easiest way to start is to pick one of the most popular platforms and create a simple bot. Right now; one of the most popular chat platforms is Facebook Messenger.
Creating Your Own Chatbot for Fun and Profit
One of our clients, Dontari Poe, wanted to create a Chatbot for his Facebook fan page. For that, we choose ChatClub since it’s a really simple platform that’s free to setup.
ChatClub is a chatbot platform for Messenger. It takes about 5 minutes to set up and does not require a slew of developers, AI experts or UI designers. All you have to do is go to ChatClub, connect your Facebook Messenger account (you can select which page), and get going. Once setup, you can start group chats, multiplayer quizzes, and music streams all for free.
While you’re there, why not like his page? He would appreciate it.
Some More Complicated Bots to Aspire Too
Dontari Poe’s chatbot is really simple and does not have much AI in it at all. That’s actually a good thing since on mobile, you don’t want to have to type on a small keyboard a sentence that the bot can’t figure out. Super annoying.
If you want to see where the world is going with bots, you can check out CB Insights corporate bots to pay attention to or you can check out some of my favorites below:
- Lazyset: I’m always on Spotify looking for new things to listen. It can be a pain to figure out. Enter Lazyset. This bot will do a custom mix for you and put it right in your Spotify account. It actually works well. Can’t wait till Yelp gets a bot to help with those annoying office lunchtime dilemmas like “where should we go to lunch?” First world problems.
- GrowthBot: comes from the guys over at HubSpot. It helps you with all your sales and marketing growth needs. It’s pretty darn useful and worth checking out. Lots of nifty natural language stuffs that is an AI programmer’s nirvana. If you’re in the content marketing game, this is the one to keep up with. It’s really useful.
- EsterBot: Esther Crawford is a San Francisco-based marketer who found an incredibly creative way of using bots to promote her brand. She turned her resume into a chatbot. That’s a pretty creative and a lot more of a cool factor than some Times New Roman PDF’ed resume. I jest. She seems more like a Font Awesome kinda gal.
The fact still remains that no amount of fancy interface or shinny new object is going to replace high quality, relevant content. Chatbots are just another way to deliver it. I’m sure there will be a time when users will figure out how to filter out all those new messages from spammy chatbots. For now, I would recommend you experiment with your own chatbot and see how this new platform will get your great content to the people who want to see it.