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How to create a Facebook Messenger chatbot

Munira Rangwala
7th Mar 2017
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The latest craze in software interfaces is messenger bots, and Facebook has the largest chat platform available today. It now lets you set up Messenger bots on your business page. For the uninitiated, chatbots allow businesses to have an automated conversation with people who click on your Facebook messenger to start a discussion. It's a simple way to allow people to get in touch with your business. It can serve various needs like letting users buy tickets for an event, getting directions, setting up an appointment, or even asking basic questions. A series of keywords and menus guides customers through each step, thus saving time and eliminating pointless requests that don't lead to sales.

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Whether you're creating apps or experiences to share updates about your latest product launch or you're confirming reservations at a hotel, bots make it possible for you to be more personal, proactive and more streamlined in the way you interact with your users. Check out this step-by-step method that will help you create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot for your business.

Step one – Develop a Working Webhook Endpoint

To start off, you need to have a working endpoint that returns a 200 response code and echoes back information in order to corroborate your bot with Facebook.

Step two - Design a Facebook app

For this step, you need to have an existing Facebook page. If you don't, make one and then continue forward. The next step is to log on to the Facebook Developer's Quickstart page and select ‘Skip and Create App ID’ at the top-right corner. Then create a new Facebook app for your bot and give your app a name, category and contact email address.

Step three – Set up your messaging application

Now that you're in the messenger setting for your Facebook application, there are a few things like the verification token and subscription fields you'll have to fill out in order to get your chatbot wired up to the endpoint we setup earlier.

Step four – Begin chatting with the bot

Go to your business's Facebook page and select the ‘Message’ option which is next to the ‘Like’ button at the top of the page. This will open a message window on your page. Start sending your page messages and the bot will reply. By default, the bot will reply to everything with ‘Got it, thanks!’ After this, customise your bot's behavior by diving into the code.

Step five – Send your app to Facebook to review it

When you're testing your bot, only you and the other admins of your page can message the bot. You have to submit your app to get reviewed before your bot is open to the world. Facebook is very thorough with their review process as they need to make sure that your app is genuine and not something that will change to some spam bot down the road.

Make your chatbot as human as possible. You can do this by using emoticons and adding rich media like illustrations and stickers. You can also create a believable personality for your bot to create a pleasant experience for your users.

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