Chatbots are not just a passing fad. They are arguably the future of marketing and social media, as more people opt to go private on their social channels.  Brands are using them for customer service, celebrities are using them to engage with fans, entertainment companies are using them to market movies…the opportunities are huge.  On March 19th, we gathered a panel of experts to talk about what chatbots are, how to use them, and what the future holds. If you missed it, here’s our recap!

Our panelists:

Zach Gallegher (@znice on Twitter), Chief Strategy Officer, Possible (@POSSIBLE)
Zach helps brands solve problems through the lens of the customer lifecycle. He has worked with brands such as Taco Bell, Volkswagen, Nike, Facebook, P&G, Old Spice, Coca-Cola, and Fiat Chrysler in executive roles at Deutsch, W+K, and TBWA\Chiat\Day.

Seth Greenfield (@Seth4bot), Co-Founder and CEO at Imperson (@imperson)
Imperson is a company that develops enterprise chatbots supporting all conversation interface modalities. They bridge the gap between man and machine, to create natural connections between language and technology.

Freddie Morris (@HotDogFlavorH2O), Director of Social Media at Career Artist Management
Career Artist Management oversees the careers of recording artists such as such as Maroon 5, Robin Thicke, Big Boi, Adam Levine, Iggy Azalea, Anitta. Recently, they launched a hit chatbot for Maroon 5.

Plus our moderator, SMCLA board member, Alison Fox.

Where are chatbots?
Chatbots are the beginning of Artificial Intelligence, with interactive personalized content engaging with you. Although many people may equate them only with Facebook Messenger, you can find them on websites, Skype…anyplace that has an open API.  Don’t confuse them with “regular” bots. There is a difference between a conversational agent (chatbots) and an interaction agent (bot).

What can they do?
As technology improves, the real question may be what can’t they do.  Freddie Morris uses them to make it easier for fans to communicate with the band Maroon 5. They can also be used to automate customer service, or promote movies (Seth Greenfield/ Imperson used one for fans to interact with Liam Neeson in the trailer for ‘The Commuter.”)

Cautionary tale
Transparency is key. As Greenfield explained, you need to find a happy medium between telling people an untruth (“Yes, I really am Jennifer Lawrence!” = people get mad) and the truth (“No, I’m not really Jennifer Lawrence” = people get mad). Don’t lie, but keep the illusion alive.  It’s also essential to have an authentic and natural voice. Greenfield says it’s the #1 thing that brands overlook.

What is the future? What industries will chatbots disrupt?
Any brand that requires or benefits from personal interaction will benefit from chatbots. This means that chatbots can disrupt almost any industry.

In the entertainment world, expect to start seeing interactive movies. Greenfield said there’s a lot of work to be done there. He also believes that voice video is the future of chatbots.  Morris thinks it would be cool to livestream a Maroon 5 concert. Zack Gallegher sees a future where bots are a helpful part of life, starting with functioning as your alarm clock, and then answering questions such as the best places to surf that day.

Are chatbots here to stay?
Yes. As long as brands continue to provide value, people will continue to use chatbots. Although we’re still in a stage where it’s the early adopters using them, don’t expect that to stay true for long.

Thank you to our panelists and our sponsors Kite Hill Foods (@kitehillfoods) and Neuro Energy (@drinkneuro)!

Join us for our next panel on April 17th – You Lost the Facebook Algorithm War, Now What? Planning Beyond Facebook: How to Diversity Your Content & Social media Platforms. RSVP now!