3 reasons why your business needs a chatbot NOW

It seemed like a fantasy of the future not too long ago when cartoons and TV shows poked fun at using robots for daily human support. There was Karen, Plankton’s computer wife on Spongebob, the Jetsons, My Life As A Teenage Robot, and so many others throughout the last 30 years. Though we don’t quite have teenager robots floating around our streets yet, we do have the creation of chatbots for human-to-robot conversational interaction on a business or brand’s behalf.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is an artificial intelligence system that interacts with humans over an Internet-based text chat. The interactions can be straightforward, like placing a pizza delivery order, or they can be complex, like troubleshooting a problem with Internet service. The one-on-one business-to-consumer interaction potential just got a whole lot bigger with the implementation of these conversational bots.

Here are 3 reasons why your business needs a chatbot NOW:

1. Scalability

Up until now, humans were tasked with answering business questions and inquiries. That means only a certain volume of questions could be answered every single hour. With a robot, an infinite amount of questions can be fielded and answered in a single second, with perfect, preprogrammed accuracy. Wow.

2. Engagement

Social media may be to blame for this one. Consumers are spoiled today. They’re used to a steady stream of optimized content, persuading them to make purchases. They’re used to direct contact with businesses through social media profiles. Therefore, they expect this kind of engagement on apps and websites. Chatbots are the perfect way to provide them with personalized, instant engagement as often as they want it.

3. Millennials

Whether this word makes you laugh or cringe, millennials are the most powerful consumer group in the world today. How they go about acquiring their purchases is kind of important. It’s no secret that millennials prefer text chats to any other kind of consumer support (we’re looking at you, smartphones). By having a chatbot, you’ll be catering to the most active consumers in the game today.

Still not totally clear on what a chatbot is? Fear not, we do offer comprehensive informational classes in which we teach you about chatbots, how to create them, and how to anticipate questions for your bot to answer. Check out our new teaching branch: http://socialmeuniversity.com/.

Mobile apps vs. Mobile websites: they have less in common than you think

Last week, I visited RedSneakers, an upscale SEO and website marketing firm in Fort Myers, Florida. I sat down to chat with the boss, Ed Moore. I asked him what he thinks about apps. He replies quickly "We have a website, we don't think we need one." I tried to hide my horrified expression behind my coffee cup.

This is from an SEO guy.

The functions of an app haven't been made clear to the public yet. Why not? That's what I'm trying to figure out.

The App Story

Apps have been around prior to 2008 – but that was the year that we, the plebes, were introduced to that very short and ominous sounding word: app. GooglePlay and Apple's App Store opened for business that year. I even attempted to make my own in 2010. It wasn't very successful, but I did the best I could with what I had. Don't judge.

Apps have come a long way since then. TUNE's "Global Mobile 2016" report [1] estimated there was 180 billion app downloads in 2015. Furthermore, the App Store just enjoyed its busiest day ever on New Years Day 2017.

Obviously many folks know these juicy little widgets exist, but what about the mainstream? Nope, not yet.

Let's get back to Ed at RedSneakers. He is still believing that an app is a mini, mobile website. I laid my phone on his desk and tapped on our company's app: SocialMe (we're a boutique social media management and training company). I continued tapping. I showed him the Entrepreneur.com newsfeed that displays real-time social media articles and blogs (and entertains me in the wee hours of the morning).

Then I tapped on our Calendar (Google Calendar link) so he could see the meeting I had scheduled with him.  I mentioned that his clients could see his scheduled MeetUps, events, and even the slots he had free for them to book an appointment.

Next, I tapped on our SocialClub, where our clients can add themselves to our map. Here is where it gets fun, I get their name, email, or phone number and location. Data collecting, baby! I tapped the SocialMe Poll button. Our fans can choose what features of apps they like the most with a fun, interactive chart showing where they fit in. We all like to fit in, don't we?

Push notifications are the cherries on top of the marketing sundae, though. I have never seen a website (yet) that shoots alerts of sales, messages and updates into my hands, by text, on my phone. We can alert our entire fan base of a special LinkedIn seminar that we are holding tomorrow!

Next, I showed him our SocialMe team superimposed over a grand NYC skyline. We look like hipster, high-fashion models. Hey, it's all about the image.

Then I feigned boredom while I showed him the normal Insta, FB and Twitter icons and easy GPS directions to our place.

Interaction & Engagement

When I looked up I instantly realized that I showed him something that he did not know existed: INTERACTION and ENGAGEMENT. People today are spending over 5 hours per day looking at their phones, making it harder and harder to slow down their speeding on the information highway. If there isn't an element that makes your clients feel connected to you and your brand, they aren't going to care about you. As Mary Kay, the Grand-Dame of make-up and uber successful entrepreneur said, "people won't care about you if you don't care about them." It's no surprise that the Mary Kay brand has multiple, sophisticated apps currently on the market.

Engagement is the biggest difference in mobile websites vs. mobile apps. Today, people have a ridiculously low attention span – if interaction isn't immediate, your customer has likely moved on in search of the next CandyCrush. Experts say that people are even sick of typing website addresses in search bars. Tapping on the app icon is going to be de-riguer in the future.

SocialMe Media

2017 Social Media Marketing Trends: The Snapchat Takeover

This past year was a very, very good year for the short-attention span social media platform of Snapchat. A fairly new social media app compared to the Facebooks and YouTubes of the world, Snapchat hit the scene with a brand new concept of fleeting picture and video sharing that lessens the pressure of posting quality. Its revolutionary platform idea has proved to be a massive success – and a great place for businesses to get in some one-on-one interaction with prospective consumers.

To prove how good 2016 was to Snapchat, we’re going to breakdown some significant statistics proving that the video-sharing mobile application is the place to be in 2017:

·      Snapchat awareness this year grew from 60% to 71% among Americans 12 years of age and older.

·      Snapchat has more users now than LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

·      Total percent of Americans using Snapchat grew from 17% to 23% just this year.

·      Snapchat is now the country’s second favorite social media platform.

·      Young Americans (12 to 24 years old) using Snapchat grew to 26% in 2016, outpacing Instagram at 17%.

Those are just some of the impressive Snapchat stats garnered throughout the past year. The company is expected to be valued at $25 billion at its IPO early in 2017, and the platform expects to close out 2016 with a whopping 150 million active daily users.

You as a business owner, individual, or entrepreneur should absolutely take Snapchat seriously as part of your 2017 business plan moving forward. Clearly, the app is not going anywhere any time soon, and the amount of daily users is expected to surpass 200 million this year.

Though Snapchat is a world of its own, centered on quit wit, clever videos, and intriguing content, anyone can learn to conquer its appeal by whipping out their phone and snapping a picture or video of daily business operations.

Consumers are all about direct connection and interaction with you today, and Snapchat is the perfect place to give them it – free of charge to you!

Instagram rolls out “Instagram Live” for Live Video Marketing

Well, we were already calling 2016 the year of Live Video Marketing, and Instagram just solidified it with the official rollout of their Instagram Live feature. Now, business owners, marketers, and branders galore can Live Video their tips, tricks, and surroundings on more than just Facebook. It’s a social media marketing dream come true.

Instagram’s latest Live Video move comes at a time when the app is aggressively trying to associate its platform with more video posting and less picture sharing. Instagram knows the world is heading towards a heavy Live Video Marketing age, and it doesn’t want to be left in the dust as the place for simply pretty and eye-catching pictures.

Now, when users go on Instagram, they can access their Instagram Stories from the top left icon, and swipe right to “Go Live” for all friends to watch. The Instagram Stories feature, a relatively new development as well that enables users to post 24-hour photos and videos (JUST LIKE SNAPCHAT) before they’re taken down, will now play host to going live for any Instagram user. Once the user goes live, Instagram will take it upon themselves to fetch and build an audience, like Facebook, and even message friends directly about the live broadcast.

Is Instagram Live any different from Facebook Live?

Not really, but there are a few subtle differences. Instagram Live will notify users by placing a live icon over the username in any given Instagram feed. Additionally, once the broadcast is complete, Instagram will leave it up for only 24-hours before it is removed. On Facebook, however, Live Videos exist for an infinite amount of time once the video wraps up. Lastly, users will be able to “pin” their favorite comments to the top of the broadcast feed while rolling.

Overall, the two features are incredibly similar, enabling users to disable comments, connect with friends in real-time, and market their hearts out.

So, if you’re a business owner trying to cut through the social media noise, here is yet another way for you to directly, in real-time, connect with your consumer base in a personal, one-on-one kind of way.

3 ways millennial social media habits will change in 2017

It matters how millennials use social media. Millennials make up the biggest consumer bloc in our country currently, and rely on social media for consumerism far more than any other living generation.

Even more eye opening, millennials trust social media reviews and recommendations more than any other demographic.

Simply put, if you want your service to be relevant in 2017, you may want to pay attention to these changing millennial social media habits.

1. The Year of Reviews

Ever see a millennial at a restaurant pounding away at their Yelp app after their meal is delivered? Millennials LOVE to rate and review things for other millennials to read. What does that mean for 2017? The rating and reviewing is expected to skyrocket with more platforms incorporating a review-based component – especially with the rise of mobile apps.

2. Step Away From the Echo Chambers

The mainstream media took a serious hit this election cycle. Americans are the most skeptical of media and social media-sourced news than ever before. Social media’s content-curated algorithms place users in an “echo chamber” of consistent articles/opinions that align only with their interests.

Many millennials are fed up with this, and may turn their backs on social media as a credible news source. What does that mean for businesses? We could see a spike in using social media strictly for communication and brand association.

3. Nonverbal Communication

Just in case the millennial generation couldn’t be anymore stunted in the communication department, we are likely going to see a jump in nonverbal communication using pictures, gifs, and of course, emojis. Millennials are all about brief, concise communication that relays the point in the least amount of words as possible. The best way to do that? A sentence completely comprised of one or two emojis.

As such, expect to see the incorporation of emojis in way more communication channels, even working their way into professional emailing.

You Should Care

If you’re a business that cares about staying current and forming solid sales leads, you may want to consider these three upcoming habit shifts, and adjust your business plan accordingly.

And if you’re not sure exactly how to do that, we are! Hit us up if you’re looking for affordable app development, SEO services, and social media management that aligns with 2017 ideals.