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How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 0:41
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With one billion active users, Facebook Messenger is a massive platform. As more and more people turn to Messenger bots for everything from shopping to weather updates, it can be a huge benefit to have an intuitive and easy to use chatbot. ChatBot expert  Murray Newlands commented that “Where 10 years ago every company needed a website and five  years ago every company needed an app, now every company needs to embrace messaging with AI and chatbots.”Here are the steps to make your own:

Getting Into the Code

The first step to building a chatbot is setting up the sever that will run it. You can use the Heroku CLI Toolbeltto start coding in Node, Ruby, Java, PHP, Python, Go, Scala, or Clojure. You will then need to set up a webhook URL that the Facebook app system can communicate with.

Next, you will need a Facebook page and a Facebook app profile for your chatbot. Follow this link to the Facebook Developer tools and register your app. When prompted for a callback URL, use the link to the Heroku URL that was set up earlier. You will then need to set up a verification token, which can be any string of text. Your verification code must also be added to your Heroku code in order for Facebook to be able to communicate with your bot. Finally, use the webhook section of the Facebook Developers menu to subscribe the app to your page. Your chatbot is now set up and ready to be coded.

Messenger bots can reply to user messages with buttons or cards. Cards can display text, images, and website links. Buttons, which appear as clickable links, allow the user to progress through pre-programmed responses and make selections within the chatbot app. The app can also be programmed to respond to specific phrases and return a combination of cards and buttons.

Going Codeless

If coding an app from the ground up is not for you, there are a wide range of chatbot tools that will handle the back-end coding and provide a simple interface to quickly program your chatbot. Chattypeople is one such service, specializing in e-shopping, restaurant, and product deliveries. Instead of spending hours coding, their intuitive interface allows you to quickly set up your chatbot to do exactly what you need it to. Using Facebook’s notification system, it can push offers and deals to potential customers that have subscribed to the page. Instead of scrolling through web pages and filling out forms, the entire shopping experience can be handled by the chatbot. By recognizing trigger phrases, and even variations of them, the bot will guide the user through products, collect their shipping address, and even process payments through Stripe or PayPal. Using chattypeople’s management tools, you can easily track sales, orders, deliveries, and promotional campaigns from their easy to use dashboard. To top it off, their starter plan is free for the first 100 customers and includes professional email support to keep your bot running smoothly.

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