Embrace the Bots or Fail in 2017

Embrace the Bots in 2017

Take a moment and rewind 10 years… to the moment when iPhones existed but apps did not. This was a time when software development was relegated to the larger enterprise world and distributed in a clunky fashion. Industry changing apps like Uber, Snapchat, Spotify and more were just figments of imagination. When the standardization of apps came with a distribution model we saw people flock to them for their needs. As iPhones grew, in popularity, their ability to become viable channels for sustainable businesses only became bigger.

Now, look at where we are in 2017. The numbers below speak for themselves.

Messenger at 1B MAU

Messenger Audience

When over a billion people are on any platform, the access alone should make you get up and take note. Add to this the standard development framework Facebook provides and the ability to sell goods and you’re looking at the perfect storm.

This year we’ve seen the world usher in the first major steps towards a Bot-first mentality. Facebook announced codes for conversations and a Discovery tab that allows those very same bots to gain exposure. These investments from one of the world’s leading platform point to a watershed year similar to when the App Store launched.

Leading app based businesses will be dismantled from this. Let me say that one more time. Entire industries will fall and new leaders emerge because of this consumer shift. If you thought the App Store was a once in a lifetime surge of innovation, you’d be wrong. I’ve only mentioned Facebook’s platform because of their massive customer base but they aren’t alone. WhatsApp and WeChat are two other monster platforms that can be unlocked given a solid product offering.

You’re probably asking yourself… okay, now what? Where do I begin? Besides taking a quick look at the URL bar to route yourself to BotList.co I’ll provide you three starting blocks for success. Since the sooner you dive in, the sooner you can understand how everything is about to change.

Capture Lightning

I’m going to repeat the obvious, but do not ever build anything unless you truly believe it’s lightning in a bottle. That does NOT mean it has to take months to build or even be the next Hyperloop. No. It just means that whatever you believe your bot will become better be something that captures the imagination. Go out and make sure you’re building something that solves a problem for a core set of individuals.

Build a Prototype

Now that you’ve got your product defined for a particular audience, you need to distil it into conversational form. That starts like anything else with mapping out your experience. You know the end goal but how do you get there? What’s the hook (like any good song)? That hook is your first sentence, your first response and your first image someone gets when talking to your bot.

With this mapped out experience, you’ll need a fast and free platform to get up and running. The two below I can personally attest are high quality but they aren’t alone.

Octane AI is my preferred out of these two simply because of the conversation code feature. Free to get running and packs a lot of functionality.

Chatfuel brings you all the functionality necessary to build a robust, powerful and extensible bot to your audience.

NOTE; You’ll need to setup your product’s page on Facebook first prior to having the bot building begin.

Test Your Audience

You’re sitting on a gold mine so get out there and see what people think. As the famous saying from Reid Hoffman goes, “ If you aren’t embarrassed of your first version, you’ve waiting too long”. Facebook provides an absolutely dead simple mechanism for doing just this. Define a budget of $100 dollars (because if you aren’t willing to pony up that cash for your fledgling product I will guarantee it’s not going to succeed). Setup your advertiser account with Facebook and then define a campaign for your page’s bot.

Firing this off into the world should take you under one week. That means 7 days from now you’ll be dipping your toes into an ocean of discovery. But I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

Good luck and check back in for more tips weekly.

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Founder, Product Manager

I spend my days working closely with the Product, Design and Engineering teams at Trans World Entertainment Corporation. The rest of my time is spent either exploring Artifical Intelligence, Machine Learning, Running, Boxing, Snowboarding or spending time with good friends.