When the pandemic hit and the majority of the world was forced into lockdown, more and more people turned to messaging apps and video calls to stay connected.

This meant more people were on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, and businesses, organisations and governments embraced chat marketing and chatbots to deliver accurate, timely and important information to their citizens or customers.

Here’s how the world is adopting chatbots and chat marketing during this time.

The Stats on Facebook, Messenger & WhatsApp Usage During COVID-19

Facebook says its ad business is “weakening” but Messenger usage is up 50%, and Facebook daily use is up 70% in Italy.

In many of the countries experiencing 24-hour lockdowns, total messaging has increased by more than 50% over the past month. In these locations, voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.

In Italy, users spend 70% more time on Facebook since the crisis began, with Instagram and Facebook Live views doubling in a week.

Messaging has also increased more than 50% and time spent in group calls (with three or more participants) has increased by more than 1,000% during the past month.

Clearly, chat app usage has skyrocketed.

What Governments, Organisations And Businesses Are Doing With Chatbots

To help customers do things smarter and faster without human contact, and to help citizens get timely, factual information on restrictions, alerts, and health advice during the pandemic, governments, organisations and businesses have turned to chatbots to deliver the details.

Check out some of them below:

  • The Australian Government has a WhatsApp chatbot that provides up to date information and health advice on COVID-19. Learn more and test it out here.
  • ICIC Bank launched banking services via WhatsApp chatbot amid the lockdown. Read more about it here.
  • The Indian Government created a Messenger chatbot to help curb “fake news” surrounding the virus and provide accurate information to its citizens. Check it out in the links here and here.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a WhatsApp chatbot here.
What Businesses Can Do Right Now

Businesses are among the hardest hit, with many of them forced to close their doors due to the pandemic restrictions, or through lack of revenue.

Some of them have adopted new ways to trade online, including subscription services, buy-now-book-later offers, or creating a virtual version of their service (online eyelash extension classes, for example).

Here are some things business can do during this time to either pivot, or begin trading online…

Look at what other businesses are doing

Take inspiration from other brands. For examples, MasterFoods realised more and more people are cooking at home, so they created a Messenger chatbot, the Dinner Hack Hotline, that delivers recipes based on the items you have left in your fridge.

Don’t forget about gift cards or buy-now-book-later offers

You can also deliver these via a chatbot for easy redemption. Laser Clinics Australia has released daily offers with a buy-now-book-later feature.

Most Popular Chatbot Tutorials

1. Build a simple ChatBot in Python with RASA — Part 2

2. How I developed my own ‘learning’ chatbot in Python

3. Teach Einstein Bots to Talk Good English with Natural Language Processing

4. Chatbot Conference 2020

Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs offered a “Commit Now, Pay Later” offer with $1 gift vouchers, with the remaining amount payable when you book, with all vouchers valid for three years from the date they reopen.

Consider loyalty programs delivered via a Messenger chatbot

to encourage spend by earning and redeeming points.

Adjust your messaging

You need to be part of the conversation right now, so don’t sell. Empathy and authentic communication is key right now.

Try to identify opportunities

My fellow Bot Blonde Trilce Jiron in Costa Rica runs a mattress store with her family, and every night her mother (a preschool teacher) reads a bedtime story to the children via Facebook Live on the brand’s Facebook page (appropriate as they are a mattress company). Dolly Parton is also doing this (for many years, she’s run a book library where she donates $1m of books to underprivileged children).

Zoos Victoria has a launched a Zoo Education Online with a bevy of resources to help teachers with distance learning.

Melbourne institutions Four Pillars Gin, Pink The Restaurant and St. Ali all started making their own hand sanitisers in their distilleries, to fill the shortage as many Aussies couldn’t buy it at supermarkets or pharmacies.

Trashy Lingerie in Los Angeles started making face masks.

The best thing to do when you can is think of what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do.

For more ways businesses can trade online and adapt using chatbots, I have a free workshop “𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗕𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝗔𝗱𝗮𝗽𝘁 + 𝗚𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗖𝗮𝘀𝗵𝗳𝗹𝗼𝘄 (𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗜𝘁’𝘀 𝗡𝗼𝘁 𝗕𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗔𝘀 𝗨𝘀𝘂𝗮𝗹)” here (it’s delivered via Facebook Messenger, no optin required).

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