Facebook messenger chatbots aren’t just the hot new thing, they’re a great way to promote your blog and build stronger connections with your audience.
Listen and find out how I’ve been messing with Facebook messenger bots
There’s something about Facebook chatbots that excite me. I remember my first one. Pegg, the Sage chatbot that assists businesses with their bookkeeping. You tell it what you spent money on and it will keep a record of it for you.
It turned out Pegg was a gateway bot, before I knew it I was out there looking for more to subscribe to. It wasn’t long before Hi Poncho joined Pegg. He’s a cheeky cat that tells me the weather forecast twice a day.
Then there’s the more serious Wall Street Journal, sending me their latest headlines once a day.
Why the Wall Street Journal? Because they had a chatbot! Soon other media outlets joined in.
Then I started on fashion… Tommy Hilfiger is choosing outfits for me.
OK, I might have a problem…
But they are addictive.
Since I first said hi to Pegg I’ve been wanting a bot of my own. instead of relying exclusively on email, could I use a bot to update subscribers by Facebook message?
The answer is yes and the process was a lot easier than I imagined and that’s what we’re going to look at in this post.
If you got this far and are still wondering what I’m talking about, a Facebook messenger chatbot is an automated system that will respond to messages on Facebook for you.
For example, if you get a lot of enquiries about your products and services you probably find yourself answering the same questions over and over again.
Instead of typing the answer every single time you can get a chatbot to do it for you.
You can set it up to ask a series of questions that qualifies respondents and points them in the right direction.
That’s what the Tommy Hilfiger one does. It asked me questions and came up with a selection of outfit choices as a response.
But chatbots don’t have to be for big business.
A hotel could use it to point customers to the right package or deal, an online grocery could suggest recipes, a cinema could assist you in buying tickets.
In fact, there’s a great chatbot that recommends Netflix movies for you. Check out ‘AndChill‘
Any business could use them to deal with frequently asked questions from customers.
As bloggers we can build a list of people who want to receive our posts by messenger, we can direct people to our lead incentive or suggest specific posts to them depending on their enquiries.
There’s huge potential in Facebook messenger bots. Let’s look at how to create them.
Before you start
What do you want your bot to do?
- Send people to the correct page on your website?
- Answer Frequently asked questions?
- Send blog updates?
- Encourage people to subscribe to your email list?
- Find the best product for your customers?
My first attempt was to send my blog updates out by Facebook messenger with the goal of driving repeat visits to my site.
I’m using Manychat. It’s free to get started and well priced if you decide to upgrade.
The first step is to connect it to your page, you’ll need to give it the usual permissions.
Next set up a welcome message. It took me a few goes to get this right.
Remember as a business you need to be open to chat to customers about enquiries, it can’t just be about getting subscribers to your blog.
Manychat has a default message so I customised that. Although this is an automated message I wanted it to sound like me so I’m currently testing:
If you click the ‘Yes Subscribe Me’ button you get tagged as ‘blog subscribers’ I send blog updates by messenger just to the people who are tagged. That means I’m not spamming people with my messages. I got opt in.
If you do subscribe you’ll get a follow-up message from me:
Setting up an RSS
The RSS feed on your blog is a special link that pings services like Manychat to tell them that there is a new post. To find out if you have a feed on your site try typing in your website domain followed by /feed.
For example, my site would be www.spiderworking.com/feed (I’ve also set up a Feedburner feed but I won’t bore you with that detail for now read more about RSS here).
In the ‘Engage/Autoposting’ section of ManyChat you can enter your RSS and set up sharing to your subscribers from it.
To be honest, I was underwhelmed by the RSS function, it didn’t send an image and it was unclear where to click.
In a most unbot like way I’ve decided to personalise these messages instead of automating it. This means I can add other calls to action and inspire engagement too.
3 updates a week may be too much so, just like my weekly snacks email I’m going to start next week with a weekly digest instead.
Beyond blog updates
Once you’ve set up your bot on ManyChat you’ve started building a list of subscribers. These are people you can message again whenever you want to.
There are rules:
- You can’t send promotional messages to anyone who hasn’t messaged you in the last 24 hours.
- You can send non-promotional broadcasts, this could include your blog digest or latest post
- You can send a promotional follow-up message 24 hours after your initial promotional message
You can see why these rules are in place. Facebook don’t want Messenger to be a hive of spammers. They want people to enjoy getting helpful messages from businesses.
Although getting new readers will be great I want more from y bot. Here are some of the ideas I’m pursuing.
Ask a qualifying question when someone gets in touch to see what they are interested in and send them a series of posts related to that interest.
Encourage people to message me so I can send them to my lead incentive or service page.
Oh and this one is really cool, if I upgrade ManyChat I can respond to people who leave a comment on a Facebook post.
For Example: I can create and organic post about my Blog Post Publishing Checklist. If you leave a comment using the word ‘Checklist’ it will trigger ManyChat to message you with a link to the download page. I totally stole this idea from Molly Pitman of Digital Marketer who did a webinar for the Social Media Society.
Promoting your Facebook messenger bot
You get it, bots are great but if people don’t know about your bot all that effort will be wasted.
Here are a few things I’m trying for promoting mine:
Organic Facebook post
Underneath your status update box on Facebook that there are a number of ‘Suggested posts’ from Facebook.
Use the ‘Get messages’ one (if you can’t see it try clicking ‘see more’).
This will open up a post that has ‘Send message’ as a call to action. Customise this post with an image and text encouraging people to click the button.
Run Facebook ads with the objective of getting people to start a chatbot conversation (or just boost the organic post).
To do this use the Traffic objective and add Messenger as your destination at the ad creation section.
Add a call to action to your site
ManyChat give you add buttons, pop-ups and more that you can add to your site to promote your chatbot.
Or you can just link people to your messenger account. Your personal link will be https://m.me/nameofyourpage
For example mine is https://m.me/spiderworking
Click and see what happens
Something unexpected happened when I set up my bot. Since I launched it Facebook has replaced my woeful response rate from ‘Responds in a few days’ to ‘Very responsive’.
It’s a vanity stat for me but one I’m delighted with.
I’m moving up to the paid version of ManyChat so will be playing with lots more features. I hope you’ll join me.
If you want to set up a Facebook messenger bot of your own get started at manychat.com. Let me know how you get on.
Oh and if you want help setting up your own Chatbot give me a shout.