People use Facebook Messenger for everything from chatting with friends to sending money to participating in video calls.
But businesses can use this tool too. It’s possible to leverage Facebook chatbots to market your business, help customers, save time, and increase revenue. We’ve pulled together a Facebook chatbot tutorial to walk you through how to create your own—and why you should.
Why Chatbots Are Useful and How They Can Help Your Business
Chatbots are automated messaging software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically understand and answer questions. The Facebook chatbot API (which stands for Application Programming Interface) allows people to interact with chatbots via text, video, images, and call-to-action buttons.
Companies can use chatbots for marketing and outreach, to direct people to their store’s hours and locations, or to push customers to products, services, and resources.
“You’ll notice that the best ones are actually the ones that are not strictly about selling you something. Great bots actually help your customers do specific things,” says Skillshare instructor Jennifer Nelson.
For customers, chatbots are a convenient alternative to time-consuming phone calls, searching online, or sorting through web pages.
How to Make a Facebook Chatbot
Creating a Facebook messenger chatbot might sound like it requires coding or development knowledge. But, in reality, it’s easier than you think.
When it comes to setting up a chatbot, Facebook has made the process as straightforward as possible. You’ll be ready to go within 10 minutes, as long as you have a little understanding of technology and your overall goals.
Step 1: Set Up Your Facebook Business Account
To set up a chatbot, you’ll need to set up a Facebook Business account. That’s important, as Facebook chatbots don’t work on personal accounts.
You can change your personal Facebook account to a professional business account by going to the “Basic Information” tab, selecting “Category,” and then selecting the “Local Businesses and Places” option. After selecting which type of category suits your business, save your changes.
Step 2: Choose Which Facebook Messenger Chatbot Building Technology You Want to Use
There are two main ways to set up a chatbot:
- Use Facebook Messenger to build a chatbot directly
- Integrate chatbot technologies with Facebook Messenger
It’s pretty straightforward to set up a chatbot using Facebook’s developer console. However, Facebook’s automation isn’t particularly powerful. Working with a chatbot company like Chatfuel, ManyChat, or Dialogflow, on the other hand, allows you to create a robust chatbot without worrying about coding. Plus, those tools give you access to helpful customer support if you get hung up on a step. We’ll be using ManyChat for this guide since Nelson recommends the service.
How much does a Facebook bot cost? All three tools are free, but you may need to upgrade to a paid version if you get a sizable amount of users each month.
Step 3: Edit Messaging Settings on Your Business Account
Once you have your Facebook business page set up, you need to check and edit your messaging settings. Go into your Facebook settings, which you can find on the top right side of the page. After clicking settings, click on the “messaging” tab.
You will want to turn off the “Response Assistant” if you are setting up a conversation using another tool like ManyChat. If you left “Response Assistant” on, it would just automatically send back one instant message. If there is already text in the “instant reply” box, you can delete it.
You can also turn off “Messenger Greeting” and “Appointment Messaging” since you’ll set it up with ManyChat. You should also turn off the “Show Response Time” and “Show a Messenger Greeting.”
Don’t skip this step, because you don’t want any old settings to interfere with your new chatbot.
Step 4: Decide What Purpose Your Facebook Chatbot Needs to Serve
Setting up a Facebook chatbot should serve two purposes: helping you and helping your customers. But keep in mind that your Facebook chatbot can only be as helpful as you make it! Before setting up your welcome message and conversation navigation, you need to think about what problems you want your chatbot to solve.
“Think about your product or service. What was the question someone was asking themselves before they came to your site or page?” asks Nelson. “How can your bot be one step ahead in helping that person to find a solution to what he or she needs?”
For example, Sephora’s bot helps audience members learn different ways to use their beauty products. Spotify’s chatbot allows you to search for your favorite music and even listen to audio clips. Uber allows people to book a ride through Facebook Messenger without requiring people to download the Uber app. There’s no limit to the way you can use your Facebook chatbot.
A few example questions your chatbot could solve:
- What are the directions to your business?
- What are your business hours?
- What kind of products do you recommend?
- Do you have any deals available for customers?
- What is your pricing?
- How can I book an appointment?
Step 5: Create Your Welcome Message
How do you want to greet people to your page? Do you want to say hello first? Do you want to immediately ask them questions? Do you want to name your bot?
Keep in mind that you legally have to disclose to customers that they are chatting with a bot. “Transparency is super important. You want to let your customers know that this is a bot that they’re communicating with and not an actual live human being,” Nelson explains. “There can be ways for your subscriber to ask to speak to your human, and you should enable that. You can simply do that by setting up a keyword that triggers a notification to you.”
Regardless of how you choose to start the conversation, Nelson recommends not using lengthy responses in chatbots. You want your chatbot to feel like a real conversation, so write casually and break up your messages.
Here’s a few examples to get you started:
- “I’m Kaitlyn, and I’m a chatbot that’s here to help you today. What do you need?”
- “I’m Jules, the company’s chatbot. How can I help you today?”
- “Hi there! I’m Shawn, and I’m a new chatbot. What would you like me to call you?”
Step 6: Create Your Default Answers and Conversation Navigation
Once you have your welcome message set, it’s time to work on building the rest of the conversation. There are many questions your customer base might ask, and this is your chance to guide them through the conversation you want to have.
Here’s a few examples to get the conversation started:
- “If you would like to find a store near you, select ‘Find a Store’ below.”
- “If you would like to chat with a customer service agent, select ‘Chat with Agent’ below.”
- “I’ll ask you a few quick questions…ready?”
There are many ways to answer questions and lead people in the direction you want them to go. You can send images, audio recordings, videos, files, links, and even add a delay.
“Delays are nice because naturally when we’re all typing, we don’t really type back to back and fast like that. Putting the delay makes the bot a little bit more human. It looks like the three dots that you normally see when someone’s typing a message,” says Nelson.
Step 7: Launch the Facebook Chatbot
Now that the hard steps are complete, it’s time for the exciting part! You get to launch your chatbot. There should be a “publish” button on any chatbot technology you use to make this step as easy as pie.
Step 8: Test the Chatbot
We recommend testing your newly launched Facebook chatbot from different devices like tablets and smartphones and using multiple browsers to ensure it works across platforms and devices.
A second pair of eyes might catch something you missed, like a typo or missing step, so ask a friend or family member to test it out too. If you discover a problem, just go back and edit your chatbot.
Step 9: Modify the Facebook Page Call-to-Action Button
After you’ve completed and tested your chatbot, you should change the call-to-action blue button on your Facebook page. Replace the text in the blue button with “Send Message” or “Message Us” to invite people to start chatting.
Step 10: Promote Your Facebook Chatbot by Connecting Your Bot to Your Website
We also recommend that you install a Facebook Messenger plugin on your website so that you can direct your customers to start a conversation on Facebook. That way, even if visitors are visiting your site when you’re not available, they can have questions answered automatically. Plus, leading visitors from your website to your Facebook page can help you expand your social presence.
Step 11: Review and Tweak the Facebook Chatbot as Needed
Chatbots are not an automatic strategy that you can set up and never think about again. You need to regularly review how well your chatbot is working and if any changes need to be made.
“You should monitor behavior, monitor how your customers are interacting with it, see if there are any frustrations, and if there are, change and tweak some things,” Nelson advises.
Nelson also recommends setting up a small survey to ask people how the Facebook chatbot helped them and if they enjoyed that interaction. Small and quick surveys can be launched through the chatbot, so you won’t have to make people leave the chat to get the answers you need.
You also need to ensure your Facebook chatbot isn’t too complex—if it is, people may not want to work with it. And remember, having the chatbot doesn’t mean you never have to interact with customers. You should still be prepared to engage and help out, as there will be questions that your bot can’t answer.
“When people interact with your customer chat tool on your website, they actually are expecting to speak to a human right away,” Nelson adds.
Finally, fair warning: Chatbots are fun, but that makes it easy to accidentally spam people. Don’t use your chatbot to send constant messages. Like anything else, they’re best used in moderation.
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