Another digital and social media innovation has been on the slow burn for some time. The technology behind it has been slowly improving.
Alongside that, the all-important ‘X factor’ that makes any innovation take off is consumer participation. You can have the best innovation in the world, but if the consumer market isn’t ready or willing to participate, you’ll fail.
What is the next big thing in digital and social media marketing?
Bots? Yes. chat-bots.
Some of you are like ‘what are chat-bots?’ Some of you are a bit more advanced and have even interacted with some on a website or on Facebook.
Chat-bots are basically automated messaging/engagement tools. You can find them on some websites. And very, very recently the goliath of Facebook has just opened up its API to 3rd party developers to be able to use their Messenger service in this way.
I won’t talk about website chat-bots in this post, but I see the huge opportunity for churches in the short-term on social media, primarily on Facebook.
Some very compelling statistics are coming out:
- Over 2.5 billion people have messaging apps downloaded.
- There are 60 billion messages a day via WhatsApp or Messenger.
- The top four messenger apps have surpassed the number of users on the top 4 social networks (This is HUGE!).
- Text has an open rate of 98% versus 20% for email. Your audience is much more open to being communicated to this way versus email.
The head of Facebook Messenger says that by 2020, almost one-third of web browsing will be done by chat-bots. Booking your airline ticket is already in late development. In some areas of the United States you can already create your own pizza and pay for it through a brand’s Facebook Messenger chat-bot, then get it delivered.
Why is this significant for churches?
As social media changes and matures, the way churches interact with potential visitors and existing members will change. One-to-one social engagement will significantly rise and churches need to embrace this concept.
If the first eight years of social media was about finding new ways to reach new people and interact with them. The next period in part will be about deepening engagement and chat-bots will play a role in this.
Here is a great website which will help you understand more about chat-bots.
I will be sharing more over the coming months about chat-bots for churches. But if you want to check out a very basic welcome message I’ve set one up on my own Facebook page here. Come and say hi!
Leave a comment or question about chat-bots below.