Facebook's continuing its ongoing push of Messenger Bots by rolling out their new Messenger Discover tab to all US users, while also adding in some new tools to help people find more relevant bots and resources within the app.
First announced at their F8 conference back in February, the new Messenger Discover tab will include three categories (shown above) to help connect users to relevant info:
- Recently Used: Shows you the bots and businesses you recently interacted with.
- Featured: A representation of the full range of experiences available in Messenger, helping people find bots and businesses to explore.
- Categories: Bots and businesses organized by topic, refreshed frequently so you can find new experiences.
You'll also be able to search for relevant bots and businesses, as per the original announcement.
As per Facebook:
"Discover makes it even easier to get things done, from reading the latest articles, booking your next vacation, or getting the latest sport highlights, right in Messenger. In addition to this full roll out to U.S. consumers, we've also updated the units that appear in Discover, showcasing the many resources you have to interact with businesses, get your questions answered and find the information you want."
In addition to this, Facebook has also opened up a new application process for businesses to get their bots added to relevant sections within Discover.
"We're always surfacing more bots and businesses in Discover, and we encourage developers to complete the Discover submission form and choose the category where they think their bot should be included."
This added level of discovery could help raise awareness of the various bots - of which, Facebook says there are more than 100,000 active on the platform every month. There's little point having all those bots available if no one knows how to find them, and according to research conducted last December - 10 months after opening the platform to bots - 78% of US adults weren't even aware they existed. Providing increased exposure within a dedicated tab will be a good lure for those who've invested in bots, and could help them get ahead in the awareness stakes - which will be particularly relevant if bots ever take off like many expect.
Along the same line, this week, Facebook also added new capacity within their new M suggestions bot tool which will help connect users to relevant bots when it detects an opportunity to do so within your Messenger conversations.
That could be a little intrusive, which is why Facebook's evolving the option slowly, adding in more functions over time. If those suggestions are welcomed, that'll open the door for Facebook to add in even more recommendations, and make bots a more natural part of the Messenger experience.
Initially, when Facebook announced their Bots for Messenger platform last year, it seemed like the takeover would come quickly, that soon we'd all be connecting with Bots, that they were the clear future of customer interaction. That evolutionary shift hasn't happened yet, but it's definitely still on the cards - if Facebook can find ways to raise awareness of bots, and showcase their utility, bots could very quickly become a more important part of our everyday interactive process.
Considered in line with the adoption of voice assistants in the home, and voice searches on Google, bots seem like the perfect compliment - it'll take time, and there's some refining to do before bots truly deliver on their promise. But additions and updates like this, which seem small now, could be significant steps in wider progress.