I’LL BE BACK…with some top offers and discounts

15th April, 2016

Since the dawn of time, which was in 2004 if you were wondering, social media gurus have hung their hat on the fact that theirs was the more human side of digital marketing.

When the PPC, SEO and affiliates guys are telling anyone who will listen that their percentages are sky-rocketing, social media managers are actually talking to their customers and finding out what makes them tick.

But there’s something happening in digital community marketing now that’s beginning to blur the lines. Like, you know that scene in Terminator 1 where Arnie tells that dude that he wants his Clothes, Boots and Motorcycle and the entire audience is like ‘Holy ****, things just got serious’. Well Facebook’s recent announcement of Chatbot is like that, only a little less 80s and with only a fraction of the nudity involved.

I’m a social guy; by which I mean I work in Content and Social marketing, not that I actually like going outside and talking to people. So naturally when I heard this announcement coming, I got quite excited.

Ignoring all the glitches and problems that people have found in the early stages of this technology, the actual principle behind it is incredible.

This is a machine (do we call it that, or is that a little bit too ‘the invasion is coming’?) that will talk to you, like it’s a human. It will learn from your preferences and begin to give you targeted offers and information.


It makes you think doesn’t it; if machines can interact and respond to customers, why would we need humans in social marketing anymore? Why not get a machine to deal with all the complaints and the complicated queries that people have?

When someone sends a direct message asking about a product they brought from the Tamworth branch of your key cutting chain back in 2007, why would you have a human answer it (who would need to go off and find receipts, returns policies etc) when a machine would have this information to hand immediately?

Well, I feel it’s my duty here to defend the human race and prove our worth against the hoard of invading robots. I’ve got three (probably more but we’ll go with three to start with) iron-clad reasons why humans are still the forerunner in digital community marketing:

Humans want to talk to humans

I know it sounds pretty discriminatory against robots (#equalrightsformachines and all that) but at the end of the day, we want to talk to someone who has empathy and understanding. We want to know that our anger, frustration, delight etc is actually being recognized.

When we’re shouting, or at least, writing in capital letters, to a company, we want to know that we’re being appreciated, not analysed.

Machines are a bit too….on message

Right, this is a bit of a complicated one so bear with me.

A sales robot is designed to sell. All it knows is what it’s been programmed to know and all it’s been programmed to know is how to sell. Therefore, its reaction to all information would be, ‘how do I get to a sales opportunity’. It’s not quite as narrow minded as that, but that’s the most simple way of getting to the point I’m trying to make.

So if Bob Smith brings up his Facebook messenger app to say ‘I can’t pay this as my dog has died’, the computer will see the salient information there as ‘I can’t pay’. Its first response will most probably be to organise a payment plan rather than giving proper sympathies and condolences.

Not exactly great relationship management.

Computers break

Humans are prone to error. Bots are made by humans. Therefore, logic dictates that the bots would be prone to error to.

At least if a human gets it wrong, people will be more understanding.



The scary, or brilliant part of this (depending on your viewpoint) is that in terms of clever robots and marketing automation, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If Augmented Reality does what we think it could, we won’t have to market directly or bespokely anymore…people will see the ads as they move and interact with the world.

Or what about the merger of gaming and marketing? Imagine a world where a player could roam through the world of Azeroth (cheers, World of Warcraft- that’s a thousand hours of my life I’m never getting back) and be targeted with products based on their interactions with other players. Or the landscape itself.

Wait, hang on, is this a blog about robots or about the future. I forget, tbh.

I bet a robot wouldn’t though.

(Cool Mark Zuckerberg image created by Alchemy’s Andrew Fish)

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