After introducing bots to its messaging platform, Facebook threatens to inundate its user experience with spam.
Facebook Messenger’s user base has quickly grown to almost 1 billion in the past two years, according to TechCrunch, reflecting a broader shift away from email and other, more “traditional” forms of digital correspondence. The app now has the biggest user base of any messaging platform in the western world, and Facebook is looking to capitalize by incorporating bots and “Sponsored Messages” into the system. This move has game-changing potential for Messenger, but could also have a detrimental impact on the app’s user experience (UX).
In April, Facebook launched its first series of chatbots for Messenger, as TechCrunch reports — for CNN, the shopping app Spring, and the weather app Poncho — with the intention of changing the way users interact with businesses. Theoretically, users could simply get the latest news from the CNN bot or ask Poncho for the weekend forecast.
These Messenger bots represent an incredible opportunity to revolutionize the way we consume goods and information and the way companies conduct customer service. However, much work still needs to be done to reach these goals: the three original bots were plagued by basic communication breakdowns and a clunky interface, rendering the chats nearly useless. But simple issues of functionality aside, the bots pose a more dire threat: could they degrade user experience on the platform to such an extent that Facebook’s massive user base is put at risk?
Facebook stands to make a lot of money by allowing companies to send “Sponsored Messages” through Messenger to users already in conversation with those businesses. As a business move, of course, this makes a lot of sense, but for Messenger users it translates to a lot of “spammy” notifications.
This superfluous digital noise degrades the user experience, and the near-death of the Newsfeed can be attributed to it, according to TechCrunch. It is also what makes the introduction of chatbots to Messenger such a risky proposition. Telemarketing is nearly universally despised, and bringing automated telemarketers to our phones and computers is a risky move that could push users to other platforms or simply to SMS, where there is no possibility of spam.
For its part, Facebook is well aware of this risk, pointing to its ability to control the bots along with the volume and quality of the messages as a mitigating factor. Messenger users also have the option to block specific businesses. No matter how the company decides to integrate bots into Messenger, the move highlights the importance of prioritizing UX for all developers.
The line between helpful and harmful engagement is a thin one, and simple DIY platforms like AppMakr make it easy to prioritize UX throughout the app making process. So when it comes to build your very own app, remember: Even a great app will fail if it does not deliver a fully realized, seamless experience to its users.
(Image credits: ergoneon/Pixabay)
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