If you listen to Mark Zuckerberg these days, the future of marketing is chat, specifically within the Facebook Messenger app, with its 1 billion monthly users.
Just three months after opening up Messenger bots to developers and brands, marketers are experimenting with everything from automated shopping to recipe recommendations.
Here's a look at how five brands are using chatbots as part of their marketing strategies.
GE is no stranger to the Snapchat crowd, having created an emoji-themed periodic table a couple years ago to make science more accessible to millennials and teens.
For World Emoji Day in July, GE fashioned a Facebook Messenger bot named Dot the Bot, who doles out science facts in the form of a string of emojis.
To wit: A picture of an envelope and the date 1971 is a clue to the year email was invented.
For each question a consumer answers correctly, they receive either one or two points, depending on whether they needed a clue.
This summer, AmEx became the first financial institution to build a Facebook Messenger bot.
The technology, which debuted at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, tracks cardmembers’ transactions and, like a concierge, offers related content. Buy a plane ticket, and the bot will send you the receipt, along with restaurant recommendations and a tip to take advantage of AmEx's complimentary airport lounge.
"We're trying to serve the customer in this more conversational way," Matthew Sueoka, VP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, told Adweek.
The pizza chain's current mobile and Xbox apps remember users' orders and offer them deals.
But this month, the company is rolling out a platform that plugs into Facebook Messenger to make ordering a pepperoni pie even easier. The location-based bot will allow customers to chat with a rep through a Facebook account and take advantage of deals from nearby restaurants. It will also automatically fill in delivery information and save their favorite orders.
The candy brand has tweaked its marketing toward millennials with off-kilter memes and GIFs over the past few years, and it wanted to create the same vibe with a chatbot.
Users take a 10-question quiz, and the bot matches them with one of three personality types based on flavors of candy. One provides users with a virtual pet akin to the popular '90s Tamagotchi toys, another dishes daily GIFs, and the third offers offbeat advice.
"Our audience and fans are deeply into messaging apps, so if you can have a conversation with Trolli, that kind of engagement is so much more valuable than just an impression," said Rob Peichel, vp/group creative director at Trolli’s agency, Periscope.
The gourmet supermarket’s bot functions like a virtual chef who can read your mind through emojis. Foodies can search a database of recipes using food emojis or keywords such as type of cuisine or diet.
Ping the bot a picture of a pineapple, and it will recommend a pineapple slushie. Send a watermelon emoji, and it will suggest a baked watermelon jerky dish.