“Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Google…help me connect with my customers more efficiently.” Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in your cars, on your phones and in your homes doing everything from giving directions to playing your favorite podcasts to activating your security systems.
If AI can enhance your personal lives, then why not use it to boost your business, too? Social media bots are just another form of artificial intelligence designed to assist human beings.
How Social Media Bots Work
Social media bots are pieces of software made up of algorithms that allow the bots to converse with people and automate tasks. They anticipate user reactions and deliver targeted content designed to assist users by providing information and answering questions.
Bots are not cyborgs or androids, and do not resemble characters made popular by Sci-Fi films—they are simply services to engage customers. ~ Evan Dawson, Clearwater Pool & Spa
Here’s a scenario for spa retailers:
Cathy Consumer is scrolling through her Facebook page when she sees your ad with a picture of a spa and the words “Are you ready for seasonal spa maintenance?” Cathy chuckles and comments “not exactly.” Minutes later a message from your store pops up asking, “When was the last time you performed basic maintenance on your spa?” Several response options are provided, and Cathy chooses “drained spa three months ago.”
Cathy is now subscribed to your social media bot which means you can broadcast messages to her any time. Perhaps the next message in the series is a link to a video located on your website that explains what seasonal spa maintenance entails.
Social media bots can increase customer engagement in a variety of ways including by using images and videos to capture consumer attention.
What Social Media Bots Can Do
In recent years as many as 67% of consumers sought customer service on Facebook and Twitter while 33% showed a preference for contacting brands through social media rather than by telephone. Businesses can use social media bots to do any, or all, of the following:
- Answer user questions
- Send personalized messages
- Send account and order notifications
- Collect customer information
- Act as customer service agents
- Deliver appropriate content based on context
- Facilitate sales
- Provide real-time reports for analytics
By implementing social media bots, your spa store can significantly increase customer contact, and increased customer contact can lead to increased sales.
Where to Find the Best Social Media Bot Platform
Choosing a bot platform requires careful analysis of your social media presence. Something that is successful on Twitter may not get the same reception on Facebook, so it’s important to know which social media platform is most popular among your customer demographic.
Knowing your audience is key. For instance, millennials are active on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat while older generations tend to prefer Facebook and Facebook Messenger when it comes to social media. That’s why, no matter what platform you choose, you should test bots on a variety of online users before officially launching a social media bot.
Up to 67% of consumers have sought customer service on Facebook and Twitter while 33% show a preference for contacting brands through social media rather than by telephone.
Currently, the three most popular social media bot platforms are ManyChat, Chatfuel, and Botsify. Here’s a basic breakdown of what each has to offer.
ManyChat is primarily for creating Facebook Messenger bots, and you need a Facebook page to connect to this platform. A big selling point is that users don’t need any coding experience to use this drag-and-drop builder.
ManyChat provides sequence-based messaging and subscriber-wide blasts as well as automated lead generation and customer service. This platform is a great option for first-time bot users and it offers both a basic free plan as well as a paid upgrade.
Chatfuel is a basic artificial intelligence bot that requires no coding. Users can have this easy-to-navigate bot up and running in less than an hour. It offers advanced analytics and Google site search, and you can script interactive conversations using the AI technology provided.
This bot platform integrates with YouTube, Twitter, RSS import, Digest, Live Chat, and Instagram. Their goal is to strengthen audience connection making Chatfuel a popular choice for individuals, startups. and established businesses. It’s also ideal for beginners and for businesses wanting basic chatbot performance. Plus, it offers a free basic plan as well as a paid premium version.
Botsify is simple artificial intelligence that requires no coding knowledge to operate its drag-and-drop platform. Used primarily for Facebook Messenger, the API lets you align messages, configure personalized responses, pull information from data analytics tools, and integrate with WordPress, Alexa, Shopify, and Facebook Messenger. It also supports images, audio and video files.
Botsify includes basic analytics, broadcast messaging, and machine learning features. Like the others above, this platform offers a free version along with paid basic, premium, and business versions.
Oracle estimates nearly 90% of businesses will use bots by 2020.
Evan Dawson, sales manager at Clearwater Pool & Spa in Manchester, Tennessee has this to say about social media bots in the pool and spa business: “While there are countless platforms to market your products and a variety of bot services retailers may use…I’ll stick with Facebook as the platform, ManyChat as the bot service, and Facebook Messenger as the method of communication.” After deploying bots on Facebook messenger for a few weeks, Dawson says the “results have been truly eye-opening.”
Why You Should Consider Social Media Bots
It’s simple. You want to nurture leads, provide the best possible customer service, offer a great user experience, and produce analytics that drive conversions, right? Social media bots can help you do all of this. Here’s how:
- Bots produce data regarding email behavior, product preference, and consumer behavior
- Information helps create effective lead-nurturing campaigns
- Bots automatically send follow-up information to leads
- Every lead is contacted automatically
- Bots offer instant, 24/7 customer service, so no customer is ever ignored
- Gives information on store location, products, services, brands, etc.
- Works with voice assistants (“Alexa, where is the nearest hot tub store?”)
- Provides immediate responses to customer inquiries
- Interacts with multiple customers simultaneously
The real value of bots for businesses is in the number of tasks they can perform and the speed at which they can perform them.
- Instant access to customer data for more personalized recommendations
- Instant, accurate information and recommendations
- Can ask what the consumer is looking for and narrow the search with pertinent questions
Analytics and Conversion Goals
- Can program them to monitor consumer data and track purchasing patterns
- Can gather data based on user clicks
- Can determine consumer behavior patterns and segment them accurately for creating more effective campaigns
The real value of bots for businesses is in the number of tasks they can perform and the speed at which they can perform them. Imagine how your business could grow using information gathered by bots and the amount of time you could save with automated bot lead management and customer service.
When You Create a Social Media Bot
When you finally sit down to create your own bot, keep these five points in mind:
- Strategy: Figure out what your customers need and design your bots to meet those needs.
- Customer Journey: Decide where the bot fits in the customer’s typical buying journey.
- Test: Refine your bot experience based on how customers use it.
- Voice Perfection: Makes sure the tone of your bot matches the situation: use encouraging and helpful tones for people doing product research, and reassuring tones for dealing with returns and complaints
- Script: Create answers and interactions based on every possible customer question you can think of then test them on real people to ensure the best results.
Who’s Ready For Bots?
With one Oracle report estimating that nearly 90% of businesses will use bots by 2020, you should be ready to utilize social media bots in your spa business. People buy hot tubs for entertainment, relaxation, and pain relief. You can use social media bots to help customers find the right spa for their specific need with a few simple, predetermined prompts. Customers can find the best size spa, the right types of jets, the right number of jets, and the best price point for them right from their Facebook page.
Social media bots are nothing to fear–as Evan Dawson says, “Bots are not cyborgs or androids, and do not resemble characters made popular by Sci-Fi films—they are simply services to engage customers.”