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What is a Chatbot? A little guide for dummies

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Internet user’s behavior is constantly changing! And it’s pretty clear that marketers should focus more on mobile marketing.Multiple studies have shown that messaging apps have surpassed social networks. Users around the world are using messaging apps not only to connect with their friends and family but with brands too. New filters, stickers and lots of emojis.. Messaging apps creators have taken the lead to keep users engaged.

Business Insider Intelligence shows here a comparison between the number of messaging apps active users and those who use social networks. The switching point has been made in early 2015.

In the US, consumers are glued 5 hours a day on their mobiles. This was in 2016 and probably more this year. And guess how much time did they spend sticking to the social apps? 50% of that time (which means 2,5 hours) is dedicated to messaging apps, Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat and others.

Alright! As I’m constantly focusing on the Tunisian Market, what could be the average time spent on mobile in Tunisia?

For your Interest: 1/3 Tunisians use a mobile to connect to the Internet. And more than 87% are connected to Facebook via a smartphone. Unfortunately, we don’t have more stats about the usage of messaging apps in Tunisia, but I’m sure that we do use them excessively nowadays.

And if you’re wondering why Am I talking about these things? It is to let you know (if you don’t) that Chatbots are invading us!

What are chatbots? Is it the trending new topic? How do these bots work? And how do they know how to talk to people? A couple of questions that we want to raise in this blog post and find out the right answers.

What is a Chatbot?

A short form for Chat Robot, Chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversations powered by artificial intelligence. So, instead of talking with a REAL human, you will be chatting with a robot and it will answer all of your questions. These bots could be implemented on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Slack, Telegram and much more. How does it work ? Well here’s an example:  

1-Imagine if you want to buy a pair of shoes, you will have 2 options, either you go physically and buy them from a store or purchasing them online.

2- Here is a 3rd option (more mobile friendly than the 2nd option): Ordering them directly via your Facebook messenger.

David Marcus, VP of messaging products on Facebook explains in this video how you can order shoes directly from Facebook Messenger:

Buying shoes or flowers is not the only option, you can book a holiday, ask for the weather, get instant notification about your favorite football team.. Etc!

Do people like to talk to a non human being interface?

Well, yes and no! LivePerson commissioned an online survey on 5000 persons from different countries who have already experienced a discussion with a bot at least 3 times last year, and they found out that 38% of them have a positive overall perception about using bots, 11% reported a negative perception and the rest were neutral.

However, the study have shown that consumers remain skeptical and 56% of them would prefer chatting with humans.

How chatbots really work?

I’m neither an engineer nor a developer and I’ll try as possible to stand out from complicated technical terms here in this section. I’ve done many researches  about the types of chatbots and read quite a bit of articles on the subject and I found that there are 2 types of chatbots. You might find 7 or 12 o 20 types of chatbots in several blog posts but trust me, it all could be summed up into 2 types: the Rule-Based bots and AI bots!

The Rule-Based bots are very very limited bots. It can only understand one simple rule (If user says this, then do that..). Example: If you are booking a flight to Tunis, you might say: “I want to book a flight to Tunis” or “Book a flight to Tunis” or “I need to go to Tunis”. Those options need to be integrated to the bot to get a response, if you say the wrong thing, it won’t know what you mean.

AI bots: this type of bots contains an artificial brain called Artificial Intelligence, and you don’t have to be so meticulous or specific when you’re chatting with it like the Rule-Based bot. AI bots gets smarter as it learns continuously from its conversations with people and stores all the previous discussions with humans to increase its knowledge.

Although its clever interface, companies tend to opt for the Rule-Based bots. Why? Because they are in the rush to be the “first to market” in their field and because building AI bots takes too much (and of course money).

For dummies, this is a simplified schema of how does a bot work:

Examples of successful Tunisian Chatbots

Whether Travelling, shopping, educational, or just for fun or whatever, building chatbots is becoming a piece of cake for developers and I want to share with you a few Facebook chatbots that I’ve tried and highly appreciated.

VongoShopBot

For those who even don’t know Vongo’s website, it’s a kind of Tunisian local “Amazon” or “Ali Baba” web-store, VongoShopBot Messengerwill help you find what you want to buy in a few seconds.

DjerbaBus

Developed by two students, Hamza Ben Messoud et Noureddine Arrami, and as indicated by its name, this bot can give an overview about buses arrivals on Djerba Island, situated in southern Tunisia. Those timings are updated constantly based on a GTFS (General Transit Feed Spec) files provided by the Tunisian National Public Transport. And just because time is money, this bot could save lives, and I think personally that this little project needs a push from investors to be set all over Tunisian states not only on Djerba.

ChefBot

Made by Access the awesomest digital agency 🙂 in Tunisia (Yeah, I worked there 2 years ago), Chefbot might be helpful for those who suck at cooking. The bot offers a bunch of recipes based on El Mazraa products. Chefbot is an extension of good deployment on social media from the company. I’ve tested it, it works perfectly, but, I would have preferred to see the recipes in quick videos instead of reading long texts.

Could a Community Manager build a Chatbot?

The answer is YES! Either you’ve learned coding or not. Building a chatbot isn’t a tough job for non developers. Chatfuel, is one of the best bot platform for creating easily and quickly Messenger chatbots with no coding skills needed!

Of course, you’re not going to build a “Terminator” but the platform provides for you a Step-By-Step guide to build a basic and simple chatbot.

And because a video is worth a billion words, Chatfuel put a really good tutorial on Youtube to create a Facebook chatbot in 10  minutes, here is it:

Et voilà, this is it! My first blog post written in english, I hope it was consistent and useful. Please don’t hesitate to bother me at any time if you have questions about chatbots in special and other things related to the Digital Marketing sphere, or even to correct me if I’m wrong. Looking forward to hearing from you.. Peace!

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