It’s taken a long time for companies to master customer service via social
Those that have done so are probably in the minority. As social media and
marketing technology platforms have enhanced their customer service
offerings—such as Twitter’s stripping away direct message restrictions and
“Very Responsive to Messages”
badge of honor—companies have shifted resources from to call centers to
social media staffing.
The next monetary shift indicates a new opportunity for the social media
marketer to shine: the investment in chatbots.
You’d be hard pressed to find a role in social media marketing today where
some hybrid of community management and customer service wouldn’t cross
Though this means you might already play a role in putting a brand’s
customer service budget to work, there’s an important tradeoff to consider.
Consumer dependency on
chatbots means decreasing investment in mobile apps. That indicates a shift in marketing allocations, for your brand or for
your agency’s clients.
How will this affect social media marketing in 2017? With 1 billion daily
active users and counting, Facebook is where consumer segments with the
most purchasing power are active. That tells me that Facebook is about to
emerge as the leading outlet for branded chatbots in 2017, meaning:
· Best-case scenario: Increased time and money will be allocated to your
customer service and community management efforts this year.
· Worst-case scenario: Heightened consumer expectations for customer
service accessibility via Facebook messenger will increase before your
capabilities are up to the challenge.
[Calling all executive communications directors and VPs:
Join us at Facebook HQ for the Facebook Leadership CommunicationsSummit!]
What can you do now to prepare for the 2017 chatbot surge?
Determine your current metrics tracking customer service success on
What’s your average time to respond? Are you gauging quality or sentiment
of the interactions taking place? When it comes time to experiment with
automated responses, or even to A/B test your chatbot with your current
status quo, you’ll want reliable and relevant benchmarks to lean on. Once a
bot is made available, users will be
able to leave ratings and reviews
for the service they receive.
Differentiate consumer use cases for your app versus social media.
If you’ve invested in an app, you’re probably tracking user behavior within
it. Take an interest in your consumers’ expectation within your app, and
compare that against their expectation of your social media presence. Are
you seeing consistency in the questions your brand is asked online? Prepare
to answer these using a chatbot. Do they contrast from the most popular app
feature? If, so, consider a way to redirect to the app from your chatbot.
Factor in a heightened demand of timeliness
. Whether or not you automate Messenger responses in 2017, the trend toward
chatbot customer care will only heighten consumers’ expectations.
According to Facebook, “Bots make it possible for you to be more personal, more proactive, and
more streamlined in the way that you interact with people.” Brands
delivering upon these priorities will win savvy consumers’ loyalty.
Tune in to the conversation surrounding ethical dilemmas of artificial
Obama administration is making it a priority
as the administration winds down. In 2016, it seemed that trending
algorithms and fake news were more of a problem for publishers than for
brands. As marketers become more comfortable with the application of
artificial intelligence for consumer interactions, the ethical conversation
is sure to carry over into our industry.
Integrate customer service and community management teams.
This is easier said than done, but if you haven’t started the process, now
is the time. Nearly any third-party platform you’re using to manage your
social media will allow you to assign tasks, tag messages or even contact
your colleagues within the platform. Chatbots will further strain the
relationship between community manager and customer service, because the
consumer at the keyboard expects one person (or one bot) to fill both
Revisit your approved responses.
Intuitive conversation will encourage users to return to your chatbot with
each new demand. With luck, you’ve invested serious time into crafting
approved responses for your brand’s customer service on social media.
Taking the same approach to determining your chatbot’s semantics will be
even more essential. The development
guidelines Smashing Magazine created for crafting conversation flow
offer a great starting point to help your chatbot distinguish different
types of questions.
Prepare for a new call to action.
Once your chatbot is tested, you’ll want to maximize your investment.
Decide whether this means changing your Facebook page’s call to action. If
chatbot interaction isn’t your primary focus but is still important to your
organization, get familiar with
Facebook ads optimized to launch a conversation in messenger.
Nicole E. Spears
is a social media specialist at Mindstream Interactive and the host of
#SecondGuessSocial Flash Briefing, available on Alexa devices. Connect with her
and on Twitter: