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Artificial intelligence is becoming a bigger part of how we access information online and how marketers can reach audiences.

For some, this is great news. It means easier access to audiences and information while spending less time and investing less money.

For others, this is the start of a dystopian future in which Skynet rules us all. Maybe a stretch….

Bots are a big part of the growth of artificial intelligence, and they are being used for everything from answering user questions while they are browsing a site to showing special promotions for individual users.

If you aren’t already using these highly intelligent tools, you are likely missing out on a lot of leads and sales.

Here are a few ways that these digital assistants are already changing the way that users and businesses interact through search and social media:

Search

One popular bot used for search is known as Fetch.

Fetch runs on Slack, and it helps users to find information they need and to recommend information that is related to their query. It has smart programming so that it can do more than just respond to keywords used in a query.

For example, when performing a legal search, Fetch is able to look at a variety of sources, such as court documents, arrest records and journal articles. The bot is able to evaluate the quality of a source, as well, understanding if it has a bias and what kind of bias it has.

The bot uses sophisticated language processing to understand the intent of the user and the quality of the results, with the goal to return only one result that comprehensively answers the searcher’s needs.

Using the bot feels like having a conversation with an assistant about what you need and then getting back exactly what you want. If the bot  isn’t sure about what it is looking for, it asks questions to make sure it has all the necessary information. The bot also provides reasoning for why it chose the result it did.

The bot is capable of analyzing, judging, learning and focusing — just like a person. Those capabilities allow it to sort through the data, such as by placing it in context and evaluating its freshness, authorship, and thoroughness. The bot is also able to make suggestions to the user to modify the search terms in order to get better results.

Fetch is just one example of how artificial intelligence is being used for search, and it shows what is possible for the future. As bots get smarter, there is no telling what they might be able to do.

What this means for marketers is that they have to stop focusing on gaming search engines and focus more on the quality of the content they are creating.

Social Media

Facebook is still the reigning king of social media, so it makes sense that it is at the forefront with using bots.

Messenger bots are used now to not only allow users to chat with one another, but also to allow brands to advertise to users. The advertising feature is great for brands, but it has the potential to alienate users if it is abused.

Facebook is sensitive to that possibility, and it has announced that it will be limiting how bots are used on the site. In particular, it will give Messenger bots only 24 hours to respond to users. After that, they will not be allowed to make contact.

Facebook bot Facebook bot 2

However, the bots will be allowed to send just one follow-up message after that 24-hour window. If the user responds, that will reset the clock and open up another 24-hour window. If the follow-up message is effective enough, marketers could nurture an ongoing conversation.

Only bots that are actively trying to sell to users will be limited by this time frame. Those that are sharing news, tracking fitness information and letting users manage productivity will be allowed to continue making contact on an as-needed basis. Users must subscribe to these services in order for them to continue making contact.

When people subscribe, these bots must tell users how often they will send messages and what kind of content it will send.

Bots will have until November to make the necessary changes and to ensure that they are complying with the rules for contact.

No other social networks have announced similar changes. However, where Facebook goes, others usually follow.

Bots are poised to become more sophisticated over time, so it is important that rules are being established now for how they can be used. These changes also show how important it is for you to start incorporating bots into your marketing strategy. This is the start of the next big thing, and if you want to come out on top, you need to start early with these tools.