Apr

Building Facebook Messenger chatbot: what they forgot to tell you.

                                     

There are lots of written tutorials and online videos on this subject.

Yet many of them omit important details of the bot building process. These details may vary from one user to another and are difficult to describe in a unilateral fashion. Consequently it is easier for tutorial writers not to mention them at all. We try here to fill the gap and provide some additional clarity.

1. Creating Facebook app.

One of the first steps in building a Facebook Messenger bot is creating a Facebook App. It requires a business Facebook page. This might seem obvious to avid social users yet worth mentioning: a business Facebook page can only be created from a personal Facebook page. If you already have a business Facebook page move on to the next step. If you have a personal Facebook page go on and create a business page. If you are among the lucky ones that live without Facebook presence now is your chance to become like everybody else.

2. Getting SSL certificate.

Next you need to setup a webhook. Your web application is hosted on a web server and the webhook’s role is to establish connection between Facebook and your web application via your web server. In order for the webhook to work you need SSL certificate because Facebook supports only secure connections (HTTPS) to external web servers. So first, you need to purchase it. The costs change from one company to another but it is important to buy a reliable certificate otherwise Facebook might reject it. All major ISP companies offer SSL products. Second, you need to install it on your web server. The installation process can be tricky. Sometimes you can get technical help from the ISP company that sold you the certificate (as a rule of thumb, the bigger the brand the better their technical support is supposed to be. But the cost may be higher too). You can also rely on popular tools, such as keytool command utility, assuming you know how to use them. In any case, it might be a good idea to allocate several days, up to a week, for this step when planning your project.

3. Choosing the server environment.

Your options are (almost) unlimited. Many online tutorials use Heroku which is a cloud-based web application platform, but a simple Tomcat web server would suffice too. Your decisions should be based on your business requirements.  A lightweight server such as Tomcat is a good fit when it comes to web centric, user facing applications. If backend integration comes into play, a web application server should be considered.

Your choice of programming languages is also broad. PHP is one popular option, Java is another but the list by no means ends here. Your chatbot app communicates with Facebook using POST requests, so any language that supports web protocols will work. Again, make decisions having your business goals in mind.

Interested in reading more? Check out our other blogs:

Social selling. Difference between Facebook and Twitter

                                                         

There are obviously some key differences between Facebook and Twitter that make them appealing to different people as well as businesses. If possible, businesses should try to leverage both networks in their marketing and sales efforts.

But marketing approaches for each network differ.  Consequently social selling approaches differ as well. Here are some major differences of the two networks that impact sales strategy:

- Twitter lets all the accounts commingle, Facebook makes a definite distinction between business and personal. This can be an issue because a business page cannot proactively connect with individuals with personal profiles. Individuals have to first like a business page and still the business can’t reach out to them directly unless they message first. This is not the case with Twitter, as anyone can follow pretty much anyone.

- Facebook preferred way to market products and promote online sales can be compared to a showroom. The prospects can see the product and purchase it through some other channel, however engagement (with prospects) is limited to friends and followers. Hence growing the number of friends and followers becomes a critical task on Facebook.  Twitter does not offer promotional capabilities but engagement activity is not limited to followers. The engagement on Twitter is therefore more straightforward and can lead to direct sales.

- Facebook user data is typically open to friends or followers. Twitter data is typically open to the entire world.

- Twitter is fast (minutes). Facebook is slower (hours and days).

- Twitter is more about building a brand identity. Facebook is more about business relationships.

To summarize, a direct timely engagement could be a good strategy on Twitter. In a typical scenario a user tweets that she needs a taxi or asks where to dine tonight. A taxi company or a relevant restaurant engages in a conversation and secures a customer. It is an efficient approach with immediate ROI.

On Facebook a good strategy is to grow and educate a community of followers. Facebook is excellent for promotional campaigns. This is a longer-term strategy with effects not visible until after several months.

 

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Amazing Social Data for Travel Companies

                                                   

A huge number of travel related conversations is happening every day on social networks.

Based on nmodes Twitter data (averaged over 1.5 years of observations) there is

- 1 conversation every 15 minutes in which people notify that they are going to NYC;

- 1 conversation every 43 minutes in which people from the USA express intent to go to Europe;

- 1 conversation every 4 minutes with interest or intent to go on vacation;

- 1 conversation every 3 hours in which people are asking for hotel recommendations.

And this is just a tip of the iceberg.

(nmodes currently has 70+ travel-related topics and intents, and growing.)

For travel companies all these are qualified leads, potential customers, and attentive audience.

Reaching out to these potential customers results in a positive consumer experience, brand recognition, and, yes, sales!

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