A quick explainer what changed and how brands can grow their Messenger audience with Messenger games.
Many of us remember the time when we received a handful of FarmVille invitations a day and, maybe for the first time Facebook was pretty annoying if you cared about friends rather more than your digital pigs.
Zynga, the game company behind the FarmVille craze, started after Facebook opened their platform for third parties in 2007.
They launched with Texas Hold’Em Poker, the first game on the social platform, and were the fastest growing third party on Facebook with 40 million users in April 2009.
Then came FarmVille. 10 million daily active users in 6 weeks, 80 million in 6 months.
Zynga became an upstart with a billion USD valuation and hundreds of millions in revenue through in-game purchases — gaming on Facebook was a global phenomenon.
In 2012 Facebook changed their mind and decided to walk away from gaming.
Mini-games started to hurt the user experience and Zynga became too big.
This was a tough decision, as Facebook made about a quarter of their revenue through gaming.
Facebook banned games into the dark corners of their platform and it became niche compared to the scale of Facebook.
Now Facebook is changing their mind again. Facebook Messenger games are placed front and centre and are starting to thrive like in the old days.
Facebook is displaying the active (!) players of a game every time you open the game. So it’s easy to spot that classic arcade games like “EverWing” (14 million users) “Basketball FVR” (8 million users) or “Super bowling” (3.6 million users) are dominating the platform.
For consumer brands, Messenger games are a real engagement and growth engine.
Here is why:
Brands which want to increase the engagement on social or increase the customer lifetime value (CLTV) have to build a Messenger bot audience.
To get an audience on Messenger the user has to opt-in, eg. through writing a message or clicking on an ad. Otherwise, the brand can’t message the user. Those are the customer acquisition costs (CAC) brands have to get Messenger user.
Messenger Games provide that opt-in, so every game user becomes automatically a Messenger bot user. 🎉
Red Bull – launched the Airdrop Game. Collect Red Bull organics with your balloon and avoid the rocks.
KLM – One of the leading brands in the messaging space launched „Flying in the sky.“ Flying with KLMs historic machines to collect coins and not run out of time.
The average CPC for a Facebook Messenger ad is currently a little above 1.20$.
With the traction that the first brand Messenger games have shown the CACs by using a Messenger game is around 3x lower than using ads. The best part about this: it’s a one-time investment so the return on investment is getting even bigger over time.
Especially for large brands which aim for a bigger audience that is a real opportunity to grow their audience on Messenger quickly.
Facebook announced major changes to it’s most central product, the Newsfeed, on the 11th of January. Facebook will begin prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content and posts from brands.
All major tech companies already made their bets on chatbots — except Apple. Last weeks WWDC revealed how Apple is stepping into the conversational world. After the shift from web to mobile and apps now the next big change is coming: from apps to chatbots
Users have tried bots for a while now. Some of them are fun and impressive. But people have also been dealing with bad technology and unsatisfactory prototypes. They tried to figure out why to use bots, even though identifying the purpose of a bot is the job of its creator.
What is a bad experience for some, is an opportunity for professional bot creators. Do not present your users with a boring bot they do not understand, they will stop using it. Scripting an engaging bot conversation that makes users come back for more is not as hard as it sounds. Making a great chatbot is thereby less dependent on the technicalities like conversation paths, keywords, and call-to-actions. The one thing that makes the difference in the end is whether your bot has a great personality. This personality consists of a purpose, matching characteristics and a suiting tonality. Crafting a personality is the most important part of chatbot creation. Taking the time to create one will pay off very quickly.
The first thing to have a closer look at is the way your bot ‚talks’.
How to Create Your Bot’s Unique Tonality
Conversations in instant messengers have been a private domain up to now. People chat with friends, family and colleagues. Handle these conversations with care. Do not try to imitate a human being because people will immediately notice! Provide the crucial benefit of a chat: being personal.
How can one be funny, interesting and personal in interactive scriptwriting? Not by scribbling down some lines, picking one and then write some similar. Don’t start scripting before taking the step of creating the bot’s personality, thus it’s tonality. Developing it incrementally and skipping the conceptual work is a fatal mistake.
Form Follows Function
There is a reason you want to create the greatest bot in the world: You want to promote a product, a brand, or a person. Let’s take a look at some examples on how a bot’s purpose is crucial to its personality and thus influences its form, the tonality it shows in conversations.
Rescue programmed a bot to call for help when you are not able or it is not safe to make a call. It scans all important information really fast, just like a police officer or doctor would do. Whether Rescue imagined this person while creating the bot, or if it happened by accident: The purpose of helping people very fast in a smooth and easy conversation calls for a focused, yet calm personality.
Clarity on your bot’s purpose helps a lot in finding a suiting bot personality. Outline about 5 benefits of your bot and prioritize them. The most important one has to be your main purpose, the reason you want to launch a bot in the first place.
If you are aiming at user engagement, learn from the best: Danish singer Aura’s bot represents Aura as an artist (bot-personality), thus uses her own tonality and her ways of communicating with her fans. They turn to the bot for entertainment as well as information on their favorite artist. Aura’s very personal tonality suits her bot’s purpose to provide her fans with the feeling of being close to and engaged with their star. This engagement leads to user retention.
Poncho managed to create a bot that makes weather reports less boring by crafting a funny personality. It provides forecasts and then enhances its informational content with funny media and remarks. This entertaining part lets users enjoy the chats. The extension in Poncho’s bot personality causes the switch to a more personal tonality, which leads to an engaging interaction and thus chatbot retention.
There is more to a personality than its purpose and tonality: characteristics.
How to Do It: Create Your Bot’s Personality!
Creating a full and concise bot personality is neither magic, guesswork nor luck, but work. This is how you proceed: Imagine you were a script-writer for a movie or play. As such you invent the bot personality by pinning down all its characteristics.
If your imagination does not provide the perfect persona instantly, these questions will help: Do you have a mascot (for a product or brand)? Does this mascot have a personality that might serve as inspiration? Is there a core value for your company in general or to its way of communication that could inspire the personality? Can you think of a person you know, a celebrity or a fictional character that your bot could resemble? Using one of those or even mixing different templates is your starting point.
Now you fill this person, animal, or whatever you chose, with attributes and facts: Age, heritage, friends, occupation, just make things up! Of course they have to make sense, correspond to your cause and be concise. When deciding on further features that are not distinct: Open a spectrum from, for example, ‘yoga-enthusiast and healthy eater’ to ‘couch potato and heavy drinker’ and place your bot personality somewhere in that range. Do it for several opposites.
There is no limit to your imagination but one: All the attributes and facts you make up have to make sense if you form them into one personality and fit to your brand. By the time you found a set of facts and qualities that really adds up, you can always ask yourself: What would my persona do? And your bot personality will give you the answer.
Your bot’s personality will now provide you with suitable ideas on the way this chatbot addresses the user: its tonality. Is it humble and nice or rather cheeky and sometimes a little off? Is its way of communicating structured and formal or rather funny and associative? You will also have to decide if the bot talks in the first person, singular or plural, or in the second.
Sound like a lot of work? The bot personality you are about to create based on this insight will make telling your story a lot easier. Your bot’s tonality will be far away from the boring machine described in the beginning of this article. Scripting your conversational bot will be as much fun as interacting with it!