Facebook had unveiled the Facebook chatbots in April 2016 along with APIs to build Facebook Messenger chatbots, but they were nothing short of a disaster. Interacting with them was much more of a time waste than anything else. However this feature is soon to arrive again and this time the experience will be smooth and seamless for all the users, as claimed by Facebook. This time Facebook plans to unveil group Chatbots.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are Artificial intelligence based computer programs that have the ability to talk to the humans beings live without being monitored. It is basically an artificial conversation device. Chatbots are used mostly in customer services to answer FAQs. Instead of using the frequently asked questions section it is easier for some people to find the answers directly through chats. It also saves time of going to FAQ page and skimming through it to find the answer that you require.
If the chatbot is stumped by some question it can give a generic answer that directs the user to helpline number or help page on the website. There are a number of other field too where chatbots are used like news, weather reporting, sports updates, e-commerce etc.
Facebook plans to launch group chatbots that work through Facebook messenger. You can add a related chatbot in a group chat. As in the group there will be a number of people, there will be less pressure on the chatbot to act and talk like humans. Right now there are already a dozen chatbots available but the full chatbot launch is expected to take place at the F8 event. The Facebook chatbot was developed keeping in view to save the user time in long waiting queues on phones and also if some people are unable to understand the process of online sales then Facebook chatbots will help them make the purchase.
How to add Facebook Chatbots to your chat
Chatbots are available for both iOS and Android platforms. Windows platform is not supported yet but it is expected it might be added once the new chatbots are added to the platform.
In order to add a chatbot to your chat do the following
- Make sure you have the latest Facebook messenger.
- For iOS
In the search bar enter the name of the chatbot you require. The chatbots will be listed in the chatbots and businesses category. For all the bots there will be a tiny messenger icon on the display picture so you know it is a bot.
- For Android
For android tap on the + sign and then select search. Then repeat the same process as done for the iOS. Here again look for the messenger sign to know whether it is a chatbot or just a page.
To find the exact bot you can also scan Messenger Codes at businesses to add them to your contacts. This is the equivalent of visiting a m.me/user page. Only a few businesses are using these codes now, but expect more and more to start soon.
You can scan in codes from the “People” tab. Tap the “Scan Messenger Code” option.
Conversing with the Facebook chatbots
When you have found the Facebook chatbot that you want to talk to tap on it to open a message window. At the bottom of the window is a get started message. Click on the get started message and now you are ready to chat. If the get started button is not there it means that the bot is currently not working.
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Right now, conversing with the bot is not exactly like a human conversation. It also varies greatly from bot to bot as people are free to create their own custom chatbot for their businesses.
Usually the bot will be able to answer simple general questions. If you ask something tricky or something that it does not understand it will politely tell you so. You can start with a simple greeting like hi but chatbot sometimes is more efficient and the moment you open the chat window, the personalized greetings will pop up.
The CNN chatbot is relatively a more used chatbot. Here is a snap shot of conversation that goes on between the chatbot and user. You can see that it searches for important words in the conversation and finds the news related to the words and display it.
Now as you can see in the second screen shot here instead of the complete conversational sentence just writing the focus word global warming, make the bot give almost the same results.
If you ask something it does not understand it will ask you to help it.
Accessing Facebook Chatbots from Outside Facebook Messenger
You can also access the chatbots from Facebook website. However there is one inconvenience and that is that you cannot search for the chatbot as easily as in the messenger. You have to go to the official page of the company whose chatbot you wish to use. Click on the message option, below the cover picture, as shown in the following image.
Once the message window pops open there will be a Get Started option at the bottom of the window. If there is no get started button then it means that the organization is not using bot on this platform and the messages you will send will end up in their Facebook inbox.
On the other hand if the get started button is there, click it to launch the chatbot and you are good to start the conversation.
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Have you used Facebook Chatbot? Are you excited about the group chatbots? Let us know by commenting below.