Building a chat bot? The top messaging platforms
Chat bots are on the rise and developers are releasing new chat bots every day on different platforms.
Each messaging platform has its own approach to bots so its best to work out what problem are you trying to solve and then work out where to deliver the solution. Just like defining an app you need to define your chatbot.
There's a lot of choice out there but most importantly you need to be on the right platform for your customers. Think about your audience and choose the platform where your audience is.
Slack is generally considered a workplace communication tool. It can be used for customer support and building and collaborating with online communities. It's an open platfrom and supports bots.
Slack has a venture fund investing in companies enabling bots on its platform and recently invested in 11 new bot startups to build out its portfolio of bots, which include a whole slew of productivity bots, from project management, to scheduling, research, appreciation etc.
Messenger is a good place for consumer-focused bots and is far reaching, both in terms of geography but also demographics. It's main focus is promotional, entertainment, and information. However, Facebook has now integrated a payments system so there is the potential to make it easy to monetize direct services and ecommerce transactions via bots.
Most Messenger bots are based on a flow of one-to-one, structured messages - with preset questions, images and responses. They are generally pretty easy use but typically very single task focused (if you are lucky!)
Facebook is, however, investing heavily in machine learning through its research group and its acquisition of Wit.ai. It’s likely that natural language will play a bigger role in automated Messenger experiences in the near future.
Messenger bot directory: Messenger bot store
Kik was one of the early messaging apps in 2009 it now has over 300 million users and over 6,000 bots and is very popular with US teens.
The users are typically open to trying new bots, and new products, they haven't reached that brand loyalist stance yet so they are open to influence about what stores to shop at, what banks to use, and what clothes to wear. The key with Kik is be fun, accessible, and hip. The challenge is to form a lasting impression and make them loyal to your brand. The Kik crowd may not be an easy audience if you are looking to monetize quickly with a bot or conversational app.
Kik has substantial support for bot features, including buttons that replace the keyboard to drive navigation. Bots can be mentioned in group chats or messaged user-to user.
WeChat is dominant in China, and an early leader in bots. It started offering various online services such as food ordering, tracking fitness goals, paying utility bills, buying movie tickets and more. More than 10 million Chinese businesses have opened their accounts with WeChat.
WeChat has approximately 700M monthly active users and some of them seem to operate their entire lives from within the platform via bots. See our infographic on a day in the life of a chinese app user.
WeChat has extensive extra-text capabilities, including payments.
"WeChat has very significant revenue per active user, thought to exceed USD$7 per year, which is a telling sign of the opportunities for Western messaging platforms" Venture Beat
WeChat bot directory: WeChat
Sina Weibo is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by well over 30% of Internet users. It's China's most well known social network with 503 million registered users.
There are 340 million monthly average users, and 100 million messages are posted each day on Sina Weibo. See our infographic on a day in the life of a chinese app user.
Weibo is now worth about $11.13 billion.
Skype, is a messaging platform with a Bot Framework. Microsoft has opened Skype to automated agents and bots which include text and image messages, as well as video bots.
Historically Skype has been video and audio-based, but it now has rapidly emerging bot and conversational capabilities, including carousels with buttons and other types of visually structured messages. Bots within groups are also supported. With the integration of Cortana, messages are expected to become more natural.
Twitter has 319 million monthly active users. It's positioned as a customer service platform introducing automated 'welcome messages' and 'quick replies'. It differs from conversational UI-based bot/chatbots with structured lists options or guide users to enter specific text.
It has an easy to use Twitter API
Telegram really promotes privacy.
The platform is comparatively small, with about 100 million users, but it's user base is growing everyday. Telegram’s founder has a $1 million fund to incentivize developers to create high-quality bots and awards $25,000 for each bot the company deems interesting.
Telegram has now integrated with If This Then That (IFTTT), a service used to make connections between more than 350 apps and devices ranging from Facebook and Salesforce to Alexa or Google Assistant.
Telegram bot store (with bot ratings and reviews)
Line is a messaging platform and social network that’s dominant in Asia, outside China. A large proportion are in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan. Line includes voice and video calls and has a payment solution called Line Pay.
The new Line Messaging API introduces three new message types aiming to structure and simplify bot development: a new “confirm type”, “button type” and “carousel type” . The new Line Messaging API also supports chatbots being used in group chats with multiple users.
There are currently 8.2 million Alexa Echo owners globally. Smartphones are soon to come preloaded with Amazon's Alexa.
Alexa can do everything Siri can do, and more (integrate with platforms that aren’t just apps) i.e. order things online by just talking to Alexa.
Discovery of bots can be a challenge, a number of directories are available but its a bit like the early days of the Appstore, total chaos.
These bot directories feature bots from any platform:
Where is your audience? if you have decided on the platform for your chatbot try our Messenger chatbot ExiCalc to find out how much your app or bot might cost.