Friday, 15 December 2017

Innovative Examples of Brands Using Chatbots

A chatbot in the simplest of words can be explained as 'something' that is offering an opportunity to brands to engage with consumers directly on a personal level. And, that 'something' is from the world of AI (Artificial Intelligence). So, when we are interacting with a brand, the representative from the brand's side answering us is not a human but a chatbot. Training a bot is not so easy and brands are taking time and effort to invest in this technology.

Today, hundreds of brands have ventured into chatbots from various industries like food & alcohol, banking & finance, travel, entertainment, beauty &clothing, news & media, sports, social sector and health & fitness. I checked out many bots, read about few like CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Whole Foods, Burger King, Burberry, Nordstorm, Armani, Nike, NBA, KLM, Ebay,, Unicef and the list goes on.

But what makes some brands and their chatbots stand-out is their 'creativity' and 'innovation' in their product offering to the end consumer. I have curated some really cool bots around us:
  1. Starbucks - Chatbot is inside the app which takes orders via voice ore text, tells you the time when the order will be ready and price of your order. It was launched in Jan this year. See how it works.
  2.  Sephora - It is on KiK (messenger app) which offers personal assistant for products reviews, makeup tutorials and in-shop buying assistance too. It is one of the smartest chatbots around. Watch for yourself. Also, they have launched couple of more bots this year to suit your requirement. I just loved how popular it has become over here in the US.
  3. Lyft - FB Messenger based chatbot which allows you to request a ride via your chat. In return, if the request is accepted, current location of the driver, car model and number plate's picture will be shared with you. Is it something different than the app, probably no, but it is just adding one more way to market itself and become accessible.
  4. Whole Foods - What I really liked about this chatbot was the simplicity yet a very new and cute way to interact. Simple because it only provides you the recipes and cute because you can put an emoji of the food and text your dietery restrictions and available choices at home.
  5. Whole Foods ChatBot
  6. Victoria Secret - This chatbot replies with lot of fun and not just mechanical bot answers. It is KiK based and it helps in finding the right size, various combinations, what is in these days and also helps in shopping as per your style 
    Victoria Secret Pink Bot
  7. - No, no, this is not just your regular service industry chatbot but a personal assistant who will challenge you to play a game and every win will be rewarded with a discount coupon or a hotel voucher. It is an FB messenger based bot and I found the concept really innovative. Extra brownie points for this one, do you agree with me? 
  8. Diageo - It offers a personal bartender which caters to all your home bar-tending needs (recipes of cocktails) with the available ingredients. It is FB messenger based app. 
  9. The Wall Street Journal - Again an FB messenger based app that provides you with top big news, analyses stock quotes, customizes the alerts at your given time, compare the quotes for you.
  10. Pizza Hut - It is FB messenger based app that takes the order, reorder basis your previous orders and provides you with current deals. Domino's also provides with all the above details and also provides the status of your order.
  11. HM - They are big on social media and also very popular with their KiK based bot. It provides you with personal stylist, helps you with outfits, shares with you current styles and inspirations for the outfits.
The other bots that I liked were Master Card, Harper Collins and Macy's. They came very early but have not innovated much in their offering.
In the above examples that I have listed, I have focused on innovation or creativity or popularity. I would like to repeat that it is not easy to train a bot because after a while queries become complicated. By bringing newness, fun and engagement in the chatbot, brands are investing a lot of time, money and resources in AI. 

I also read a beautiful statement which clearly defines and sums-up the need of chatbots in today's world - "We are living in the ‘expectation economy’ where consumers expect to have information at their fingertips, and we want to keep innovating to meet our customers where they are" Jeff Jenkins, global executive of digital strategy and marketing at Whole Foods Market.

I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Reviewing The Social Media Updates Of 2017

We have some fantastic updates coming from Twitter and Instagram this week, as the year is about to end. So, sharing with you, my top four picks on the 'updates that took place in 2017 in social media'.

  1. Facebook Messenger Chatbots / Other app based Chatbots: Customer's interaction with the brands has become very easy via chatbots. They are now used extensively and have been efficient in reducing the gap of timely human to human interaction. One of the example of my recent interaction was with the Starbucks chatbot, which is taking the order, informing when it is ready, the price and the payment options and then customizing the content according to preference for the next time. I don't know currently how chatbots will impact the employment rate in the future, because it does reduce the human intervention in all the processes. 
  2. Whatsapp for Businesses: Whatsapp rolled out 'Whatsapp for Businesses' this year which has now become a strong marketing tool for many organisations, especially in the service industry. Promotions, customer service, reservations/orders, direct communication with the individual customer, feedback management and many more tactics are being executed using the simple app.
  3. Twitter Threads: Twitter rolled out this feature to post bunch of connected tweets at one time. The person has to click on '+' after the first tweet to thread the second and more tweets together. It is being reffered as tweetstorm because people can now post longer tweets than Twitter’s already-extended 280-character limit. Only time will tell whether it will be easy for brands and users to communicate or will it add to more confusion?
  4. Instagram 'Follow Hashtags': As they say, save the best for the last, and this is one of the best updates from Instagram in 2017. It was very difficult to search the popular hashtags everyday, see the curated content and monitor it. With this feature, you get the content of a particular followed hashtag in your feed. With this, my trust in organic reach and engagement is restored otherwise the only way to succeed on social was the paid way! More likes, more comments but less follows on the account, is what, I foresee in future with this update. 
These features/updates/trends highlighted above really stood out for me because all of them spoke one marketing mantra - 'Keep it simple, stupid'. And, they definitely are making it very simple for brands and consumers to engage with each other.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Checklist To Promote Your Event On Social Media

Do you face challenges in managing social media for your events or conferences? Is the digital marketing pie from the whole marketing mix giving you jitters during your product launch? If yes, then this blog can suggest you some pointers to make things easy.

All the marketing tactics that are used for an event is divided into three stages: pre-event, on-ground and post-event. We all are sailing in the evolved boat of marketing wherein PR, social media, digital marketing, media buying, creative & content have converged into Integrated Communications. 

These days leveraging social media for event marketing is like adding salt & pepper to your food. Therefore it is extremely important for all of us to have a ready checklist that will help us with the following: Engage - Generate Curiosity - Amplify - Promote - Convert - Monitor - Analyse

Promote your event with social media. Image source: IIP via Google Images

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

Here is a list of things to be done & some questions to be answered before execution of the event. It will be handy for you to just check, tick and be sure that everything is under control:


  1. Mediums for outreach
    • Website - Will it be a website, landing page or a microsite
    • Social Media - What will be the platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram) 
    • App - Will my app help convert leads
    • PR - What will be the mix of traditional and online PR
  2. Content & Messaging
    • Hashtag - Is it small, easy to understand, associated with the main brand
    • Messages - What are my standard messages for promotions and consumer queries, is the press release following the same messaging
    • Creative - Are the creatives following a theme, are you resizing for all mediums,  
    • Content Type - What is the right mix of image, text and video content during promotions
  3. Partnerships
    • Sponsors & partners - Are your sponsors active on social media. Will they promote
    • Ticket booking platforms - Is your event listed out there for people to easily book
    • Bloggers & Influencers - What genre of blogger & influencer will you reach out? What is the klout
  4. Amplification
    • Have you started the online promotions
    • Is your content calendar meeting your agenda
    • Are bloggers promoting the event
    • Are sponsors supporting the promotions
    • If there is any ambassador/ celebrity associated, then is she/he promoting
    • Have you started with contests, teaser videos
    • Is your pre event coverage giving you mileage

  1. Going Live
    • Are you doing Facebook Live
    • Are you on periscope
    • Is their a live tweeting team 
    • Are you putting up Instagram posts and stories
    • Are you putting up snapchat stories
  2. Engagement
    • Is there an on-ground contest or activation that you are promoting
    • Are you encouraging the audience so that you get UGC (user generated content)
  3. Monitoring 
    • Are you tracking your event regularly - Monitor responses, reply to audience tweets, tracking the reach and impressions, tracking the influencer tweets, traction of your tweets and influencer tweets, taking snapshots regularly
Post Event

  1. Albums, videos and coverage
    • Is the picture album uploaded on Facebook and promoted on other social channels
    • Are the videos uploaded on YouTube and promoted on all channels
    • Is your website updated with all the information of the event (pictures, videos, testimonials and next year dates if any)
    • Have you promoted the event coverage on all channels
    • Have you thanked all sponsors and attendees with specific pictures on social media
  2. Coverage
    • Are you following up with bloggers and online partners for post event coverage
    • Is your traditional coverage on track
  3. Reports
    • Detailed performance analysis - Number of posts, engagement (like, RT, share, replies), your responses, contest engagement, UGC, influencer-blogger performance and what's pending 

Also, it is essential to note down the learning from the past event so that it gets added to the checklist of your next event. 
I hope I have shared some great tips for maximizing your event marketing with social media. These are just a few ways to prepare for the next conference or an event. If you have more ideas, feel free to share the knowledge in the comments section.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Hello 2017

2016 was a very unusual year for me. I cannot call it happy and I cannot call it sad. I bought a house in this year which was a really big achievement for us (Everyone as an opinion on rental and buying and I feel 'to each his own', whatever makes one happy in a longer run). We took a major risk and it was a period of testing times - big loans, savings all gone, the seller was very arrogant and shallow. There was zero travel due to the new house. Lethargy had set in due to constant pressure of saving, saving and more saving. Reading also became almost zero. Exercising and healthy lifestyle took a backseat because the juggle between office, the old house and the construction of new one took a toll on me.
Work became the only savior. It became my focus and I was spending more & more time & energy on my career.
Fun times with friends, colleagues and family were obviously beautiful.
And then came the month of December wherein I had a family wedding and after that back to back illness - Fever, severe back and neck issue and many other things. I was frustrated. Was it depression? - I don't know but whatever it was, I wanted to be out of it.

I was reading and surfing the internet on December 24 when I read these two quotes:

At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results - Chuck Yeager

Those who don't want to change, let them sleep - Rumi

I chose not to sleep, dear Rumi and thus on December 25, I decided to put strict discipline and lots of fun back into my life.

Are they my resolutions for 2017? Maybe yes as far as I stay motivated on all of these:-

Stretch more
Move ahead, stretch myself at work, take challenging roles, learn-unlearn, explore new areas, teach, share and evolve continuously

Read one book per month
Putting a goal of one book per month is like putting a deadline. And I work best when there are cut to cut deadlines and pressure.
Buy or borrow will be the mantra. I already have a list of few books that are in the 'to-read' list. 

Write blogs
I love writing whether it is about digital marketing, brands, PR, perfumes, good ads, food recipes, travel and more. 
I learn so many new things everyday so why not share them at-least once or twice in a month?

Gain health - exercise and good food
1 hour cardio and some core strengthening exercise at least 4 times a week, controlling sweets ( a combination of punjabi and bania can never say complete no to sweets), eating lot of veggies, fruits, nuts and sprouts

Walking on a full moon nights, gazing stars, sitting in the balcony soaking some sun on a weekend, just walking miles, cooking or baking. What stops us doing these things when we grow up? Time cannot be blamed. I have already started doing some of these and will indulge more

India or abroad; beach or mountains; by road or by sea I want to travel. Small vacations and one big vacation (no harm visioning it). Rohan & I want to our travel and adventure to be back in our lives

Last but not the least

Meditate, do mandala, stay happy and spread love around

I wish happiness and peace to all :)



Images in the post are taken from Piktochart and then edited