Facebook Launches M, its Version of Siri
Mobile search just got a little easier for a few hundred Bay Area residents selected to test Facebook’s new intelligent personal assistant, M.
Much like Siri and similar virtual assistants, Facebook M helps users answer questions and complete tasks.
Unlike its predecessors, M is able to actually complete tasks for the user. Rather than merely suggesting nearby restaurants, M can book reservations as well. M is powered by artificial intelligence and uses natural language to interact with the user, but it has a secret weapon: a team of actual people who ensure all tasks are completed.
Facebook M is integrated in Facebook Messenger, a standalone application that allows users to share messages, photos and videos with their Facebook friends. It is separate from their Facebook profiles, which is accessed from the original app.
Facebook wants to become the tool for mobile discovery; however, they are at a disadvantage because users need to both have a Facebook account and have downloaded the application to use M. Users only need a web browser or smartphone to use Google, and the appropriate smartphone to use Siri/Now/Cortana.
What does this mean for marketing?
Facebook Messenger has integrated more business-friendly features lately, recently allows businesses to use messenger to connect with customers via Facebook Messenger for Business. Businesses can use Messenger to send notifications to customers about the status of their order, allowing the customer to respond with follow up questions.
Because M is able to complete transactions on a customer’s behalf, companies will need to adapt for customers who discover and purchase using Messenger. Facebook currently supplies the human support team for M, but more customer service resources may be devoted to working with them or the application as service grows. This could lead to a customer service/content marketing hybrid to create the kind of fun AI interactions that made Siri such a novelty.
M’s arrival signals the growing trend of personalized interactions. Brands have been working with social media to create rich, engaging content and build interactions with their customers, but M and Facebook Messenger for Business take it to the next level. Rather than having a social media discussion with customers before and after purchase, the brand can insert itself in the purchasing process. It hearkens back to the old days when customers worked with sales staff, but with the convenience of online shopping.
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