The best chatbots don't seem like chatbots at all, they seem like humans.
So how do you create a tech-powered bot to sound like a human?
You inject the bot with a bit of familiarity, humor and empathy - and all of this is possible because, contrary to popular belief, chatbots aren't powered by AI.
Chatbots run based on scripts, which are written by marketers like you and me, meaning that you can humanize your Facebook Messenger chatbot campaigns the same as you would humanize an email marketing campaign.
And if you're running Facebook Messenger chatbots, it's essential to humanize your bots.
Empathetic, kind, funny bots stand out in the sea of hum-drum, droll bots that sound like... bots.
Here are my top four tips for humanizing your chatbots, and making them more engaging than ever.
1. Get to know your Facebook Messenger contacts
According to the research conducted by Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service from brands which provide a personalized experience for them.
Customers feel more important and valued when they receive messages which are tailored to their experience. But in order to start personalizing your chatbot messages, you first need to get to know the users.
A travel agency, for example, could ask users what their dream destinations are, and then follow up on that dream destination down the road. A coffee company could ask what their customers' favorite drinks are, or how many cups of coffee they have on an average day.
I run a company called MobileMonkey, which is a Facebook Messenger software company (now you see why I'm so keen on chatbot strategy).
In order to get to know our users better, we ask our users what kind of marketers they identify as:
No matter what type of marketing initiative you're running, the ultimate goal is to make your potential customers feel that their interests, issues or concerns matter, and are being addressed.
Using this as a starting point for your bot will significantly help improve your messaging.
2. Create a chatbot that remembers its users, and adjusts its conversations accordingly
One of the hardest parts of creating a chatbot is maintaining context within conversations.
An efficient chatbot analyzes the user intent, and knows what to offer a user next. For example, when a user has already ordered from a messenger chatbot once, the chatbot should keep track of that history, and consider offering the user the exact items that he/she has ordered in the past, dependent on context.
Ideally, a bot will 'understand' how to adjust its conversations based on different situations and users. This takes more effort and programming, but it is possible to utilize past history to better inform future bot interactions.
3. Get Visual with Images, Emojis and GIFs
Facebook Messenger chatbots are capable of sending emojis, images and GIFs, and you can inject some visual flair into your chatbot conversations by utilizing this capacity.
If you can make a user smile with a funny (and relevant) GIF, by all means, add it. As with all your content and social channels, visuals always increase engagement.
There's a range of ways in which you can add more personality to your bots, and that extra effort can go a long way in expanding its functionality and capacity to engage.
And if you can engage your audience, you can bring them back - the more personalized and helpful the bot experience, the more likely they'll use it again, and refer their friends to the same.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.