PM Modi Could Use India’s Massive Phone Market to Boost ‘Make in India’

PM Modi Could Use India's Massive Phone Market to Boost 'Make in India'
India overtook US to become world’s second-largest smartphone market
More of manufacturing jobs relating to smartphones will be generated
Apple has also been seeking to open its retail stores in the country
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has struggled in his campaign to bring more manufacturing jobs to India. But he now has an alluring incentive for technology companies to build more plants in his country: the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world.

India currently contributes only about 6 percent of the value of phones sold in the country through local manufacturing or assembly, but that contribution could rise to more than 30 percent in the next five years, according to a joint study by Counterpoint Research and India’s leading management school, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. The government should use the surging domestic demand to draw manufacturers that will make higher-value components, such as batteries, cameras and semiconductors, the study said.

India overtook the US this year to become the world’s second-largest smartphone market by users and is projected to generate a billion smartphone sales in the next five years. Yet the value added through local manufacturing is paltry compared with other countries like China and South Korea, where 70 percent and 50 percent of the work is done domestically, according to the research. Modi, who has made the Make in India program a centerpiece of his economic policy, wants more of those jobs if his country is providing such a lucrative market.

“India can potentially be world leader in mobile phone manufacturing ecosystem and this has to be done in a phased manner,” said Aruna Sundararajan, secretary at India’s ministry of electronics and information technology. She said the government is sending close to 100 design engineers to Taiwan to learn about product design and customer needs.
Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Xiaomi Corp. have been stepping up their efforts in India as growth in the US, China and other markets slows. Apple CEO Tim Cook made his first trip to India in May and his company has been lobbying for the right to set up its own retail stores. Under current rules, companies such as Apple need to procure 30 percent of their components in India if they want to operate their own retail outlets.

The smartphones and feature phones sold in India over the next five years will together require more than $80 billion (roughly Rs. 5,45,002 crores) worth of components, up from the current $11 billion (roughly Rs. 74,937 crores). If the country can move up the value chain from simple assembly to more complex manufacturing, it could take the domestic contribution to 32 percent by 2020, the researchers said.

“The greater amount of localization and investment in R&D encouraged with good government policies will significantly boost the Indian economy and our global brand equity,” said Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer of the government think tank Niti Aayog, in a statement.
India is also encouraging local manufacturing of components by raising import levies on components and devices. Apple is still contemplating India’s retail requirements and has so far not committed to local manufacturing. However, Foxconn Technology Group, its leading manufacturing partner, has been exploring factories in India for Apple, according to local media.

The government’s next set of policy reforms will encourage greater local work to meet smartphone growth numbers, said Ajay Kumar, additional secretary at the ministry of electronics and information technology, in a release at the unveiling of the report. “The final goal is to cut down on the value of imports,” he said.

The country has made progress in attracting more assembly plants. Before the launch of Make in India, the country had only two phone assembly facilities and that number has now increased to about 50 facilities. Eighty percent of those are local companies and 10 percent are each Chinese and Taiwanese. The plants assemble phones for the world’s leading brands including Samsung and Huawei Technologies Co.

Counterpoint estimated that over 180 million mobile phones will be assembled in India in 2016, accounting for 67 percent of the total 267 million sold. This is a rise from 14 percent in 2014.

India is unlikely to challenge China as exporter of phones any time soon however, because the local market is growing so quickly. “Domestic demand in India should be enough to consume products manufactured there,” said Anthea Lai, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “India would pose no threat yet.”

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

Tags: Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Make in India, Smartphones, Narendra Modi, Mobiles


What is Calm Design and How Can You Use it in Your Marketing?

What is Calm Technology Design and How Can You Use it in Your Marketing?

Cisco estimates there will be 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices by 2020 — a number that exceeds the world’s projected population. The mobile Internet of Things (IoT) is spreading consumer attention thin, making it more difficult than ever to break through the noise and reach target audiences. With this many connected devices on the horizon, content marketers must find a way to use mobile to their advantage. There’s an emerging concept within IoT that may hold the answer to regaining some consumers’ attention: calm design technology.

What Is Calm Design Technology?

Calm design technology is a new idea that strives to blend technology seamlessly with everyday life. While modern smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and connected devices aim to respond to users’ needs, calm design takes responsive design a step further. Calm design is the next generation of connected devices. Its purpose is to connect consumers with their devices and others in a way that lets them live their lives freely — without interruptions, pop-ups, or “smart” technology that makes life more difficult.

The example Amber Case used at InBound 2015 when speaking about calm technology is electricity. Electricity is invisible, working on its own without interrupting our daily lives. We only notice electricity when it stops working. Calm design aims to reach this level of invisibility — not literally, but figuratively. Instead of your Apple TV turning on and asking if you want to download an update, it should simply play movies.

Principles of Calm Design IoT

Technology shouldn’t take up most of our time and attention. It should only require some attention when absolutely necessary. Here are a few principles of calm technology from

  1. Technology should require the smallest amount of attention possible. It should communicate without having to “speak,” creating awareness using different senses to keep consumers in their current environment or task without interrupting.
  2. Technology should amplify the best of humanity and machines. Tech design should be for humans first. Machines shouldn’t act like humans or vice versa — good design should amplify the best parts of both.
  3. Technology should solve a problem, and that’s it. The minimum amount of technology possible to resolve an issue should be the only tech we see. Calm tech is slimmer, doing what it needs to do and nothing more.

Calm tech design doesn’t require focused attention to use. It lets users multitask and do other things while the tech quietly does its job. It utilizes the periphery.

Calm Design and Marketing

When virtually everything in a consumer’s life is connected, distracting notifications and daily interruptions escalate out of control. Customers are nearing a breaking point with marketers, blocking advertisements and leaving websites that have pop-up ads. Instead of contributing to the noise, marketers need to find a way to advertise their brands without interrupting the consumer’s day. Calm design is the answer.

Trying to grab attention with irrelevant ads will only push consumers away and eventually make your brand extinct. Calm design is a new platform — one that enables interaction with customers without interrupting their days. Marketers can join the trend toward calm by understanding how to transform advertisements into meaningful conversations with consumers, adding something of value without taking them away from their current tasks.

How Can Marketers Use Calm Technology Design?

Combining content with calm design is going to lead the movement. Marketers need to change how they communicate with consumers to optimize outreach in the modern world. Instead of relying on the interrupting nature of advertising, content marketers should evolve into what Haydn Sweterlitsch, chief creative officer at HackerAgency, calls the Atmospheric Approach. The Atmospheric Approach doesn’t create content that adds to the noise. Rather, it enables marketers to quietly integrate ads into a customer’s peripheral awareness.

Marketing should theoretically “disappear” while engaging customers, getting a message across without interfering. Real life examples of this are the Roomba, a stoplight, a light-up occupied sign on a bathroom door, and captics technologies. Captics use the sense of touch to communicate, vibrating when users are slouching and telling them to sit up straight without making a sound. Content marketers must gear their efforts toward the same concept.

As IoT, robotics, smart homes, artificial intelligence and mobile devices create a hyper-connected world, consumer attention will become more and more scarce. Marketers need to find creative ways to attract consumer attention without distracting them. Paying strict attention to consumer demands will be more important than ever, so think about what consumers may be doing while viewing your content.

Creating compelling, simple and useful brand messages is the wave of the future. It’s possible to attract attention without interfering through engagement and empowerment. Utilize other senses, not just sound. Integrate touch and sight. Instead of spending money on pop-up advertisements, spread your message quietly. Blatant appeals are a thing of the past, and marketers who cling to them will become extinct. Take control of your future and join the trend toward calm design technology.

Smart Tech Photo via Shutterstock


Blizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI Research

Blizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI ResearchBlizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI Research
The APIs for StarCraft II will be made open to AI researchers
This will assist in building better AI
Blizzard announced this collaboration with Deepmind at BlizzCon 2016
At BlizzCon 2016, it was announced that Blizzard would open up the APIs from strategy game StarCraft II to AI researchers across the world. It’s collaborating with Google’s DeepMind for this initiative.

According to DeepMind’s Oriol Vinyals, real-time strategy games such as StarCraft II would be a great test for AI given the hidden information and asymmetry constitute to elements of its gameplay which could end up helping in solving problems in the fields of science and energy among others.

(Also see: Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016)

“DeepMind is on a scientific mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be told how. Games are the perfect environment in which to do this, allowing us to develop and test smarter, more flexible AI algorithms quickly and efficiently, and also providing instant feedback on how we’re doing through scores,” a prepared statement on the company’s website reads.
“StarCraft is an interesting testing environment for current AI research because it provides a useful bridge to the messiness of the real-world. The skills required for an agent to progress through the environment and play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks.”
(Also see: The Original Diablo Will Be Playable in Diablo 3)

Blizzard CEO and President Mike Morhaime simply stated that fans could “help by simply playing StarCraft II online.” An odd way of putting it considering playing online is the preferred way to play StarCraft II by many.

Tags: BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2016, StarCraft, StarCraft II, StarCraft 2, DeepMind, Google DeepMind, PC games, PC Gaming


5 Ways To Use Video To Showcase Handmade Products

handmade products video

When it comes to showcasing a product, there is nothing like the power of video. But if that is the case (and it is), then why is it that video seems to be the domain of people who are either selling services or the supplies used to make products?

If you make the products you sell, handmade products videos that showcase your work should be readily available all over the Web. After all, you have an endless stream of Made In America action that your customers want to see. So why deny them?

If you make the products you sell, you have a huge advantage over the people simply selling information or services. Who wants to watch a video of someone creating an information product? When you make soap or shoes or cupcakes or perfume, it’s a whole different ball game. Nothing can showcase the color and texture of your product the way a handmade products video can.

Below are ways to use a handmade products video to showcase handmade products and compel people to buy more of them.

Creative Video To Showcase Handmade Products

Show Everyone How You Make Your Product

People love learning about how things are made. It’s interesting to see raw materials come together to form a useful product that enhances people’s lives.

Here is an example of Kendra Renee at Kendra Renee Jewelry Design using an Instagram video to show how she carves a mold for a wedding ring out of wax.

Demonstrate How Your Product Should Be Used

One of the best ways you can positively influence people to buy your products is to show them how they perform in the setting in which they will use them at home.

Here is an example of Chelsea Selby at Witch Baby Soap using an Instagram handmade products video to showcase how one of her bath bombs perform in a bathtub. Even more clever, the video she is using is actually one made by one of her customers. See, sometimes, you don’t even have to create the video yourself!

Make a Video that Reflects Your Target Customers Using Your Product

One of the things that sets a product apart from the pack is that the customers who buy it can see themselves using and enjoying the product. Help facilitate this positive branding experience by sharing a handmade products video that shows your customers happily using your products.

Here is an example of how Stacia Guzzo at Handcrafted Honey Bee used a promotional launch video to show how her target customers can “dream big” as they enjoy using her DIY cosmetic kits.

Share Information About the Ingredients and Components in Your Products

While a fragrance is difficult to capture in an online environment, with video, you can describe it well enough to allow viewers to engage their olfactory system in a fun way.

In this handmade products video, natural perfumer Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Company shares exactly how she builds a perfume from scratch, from start to finish. For anyone interested in the art of perfume, this is a fun video to watch because you can almost smell the aromas as she describes them.

Use Video to Encourage People to Support Your Next Project

Whether it’s crowd funding or an awards contest, using video to showcase your handmade products can help attract everything from votes to funding. When you want people to support you by giving a vote or donating their hard earned cash, the least you can do is entertain them a little. No one wants to read seven paragraphs of text before submitting a vote. But everyone will watch a fun video.

Here is an example of Anne-Marie Faiola at Handmade Beauty Box using a handmade products video to encourage people to fund her Kickstarter campaign, which, by the way, was fully funded within 24 hours of its release.

Using Video Leverages the Power of the Internet

No matter what you make, and no matter the size of your business, you can use a handmade products video to engage customers and prospects and tell the world about your products in living color. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

I’m sure you can think of tons of ways to make your business shine using video to showcase handmade products! Share your ideas and experiences, and links to your most successful videos, in the comments.

For additional reading:

29 Places to Market Craft Tutorial Videos to Attract Buyers

25 Places to Sell Handmade Crafts Online

5 Reasons Your Handmade Business is Not Gaining Traction

Pottery Photo via Shutterstock


Do You Use a Business Dashboard?

Netvibes business dashboardLarge corporations use business dashboards to track key indicators about the business. Business dashboards can give up-to-the-minute visibility into how the business is performing, with charts, tables and graphs.

Small businesses, however, usually cannot afford sophisticated business dashboards, except for the dashboard we have, say, in QuickBooks. There’s also the free MyBizHomepage that works together with your QuickBooks data to give you more intelligence. Those are great for what they do, which is manage key financial indicators.

But as someone who spends a lot of time online and who uses dozens of online applications (software-as-a-service, or SaaS) to manage certain functions and narrow slices of my business, I now have a growing need.

My need is to get access to lots of data and information and even charts contained in the Web applications I use.  Unfortunately, the information and charts are scattered all over the Web. It’s a nightmare just to keep track of all the different Web applications I use and the associated logins, let alone visiting the administration panels of those applications to check the data and charts in them. Some of the applications I review every few days, and some I review everyday or even several times a day.

In an article at the AppGap, I outline how I have cobbled together a rudimentary dashboard to run my business, using Netvibes. Here is an example of a page in Netvibes where I can manage intelligence culled from some of the many online applications I use (Statcounter and FeedBurner), via embedding widgets into a Netvibes page:

Netvibes business dashboard

You may also recall that recently I wrote about using Netvibes to manage social media accounts. Well, this is an extension of that same idea, but using Netvibes to also manage other business applications.

I think there’s a business opportunity for a company to come up with a simple dashboard app that serves as a gateway and access point to all these online software applications we increasingly are using — and the valuable data in them. And designed specifically for small businesses to use.


Which Social Media Site Do You Use Most for Business? [POLL]

This week, we want to know what social media site you're spending the most time on for your business. Check back for your most popular social media sites.

Social media has become a bigger part of a lot of small business’s marketing and customer engagement strategy since its infancy.

Quick question: Does anyone remember creating a MySpace page to promote their company? Sure, some — musicians, mostly — still use that platform but there are so many more popular options these days. And each one presents unique opportunities to reach an audience in a unique way.

Want to reach the general population? You’re probably using Facebook. Talking to your small business owner contemporaries? That sounds like a job for LinkedIn. Looking to be part of a national movement? A tweet with the right #hashtag gets you involved.

So, this week, we want to know …

Which social media site do you use most for business?

What Are Your Most Popular Social Media Sites?

We’re giving you a choice of the big ones: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.

Let us know which platform is open most on your phone or occupying a tab most often in your web browser. In the comments section below, tell us why.


What is Amazon Launchpad and How Can I Use It for My Startup?

What is Amazon Launchpad and How Can I Use It for My Startup?

When it comes to eCommerce, Amazon is the undisputed king. The sprawling digital marketplace sells over 200 million products per year in America alone, and it’s consequently evolved into a crucial sales platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

But it can be understandably difficult for tiny startups to stand out and prosper on Amazon. That’s why last year the company decided to introduce a pioneering platform to help showcase ambitious startups and their innovative products.

Dubbed Amazon Launchpad, the service also provides a wide array of useful tools for small businesses, and pairs them with like-minded organisations in order to foster growth and collaboration. Launchpad relies upon partners like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Y Combinator to help identify potential — and although the platform may not be right for everyone, the benefits are worth considering.

What is Amazon Launchpad?

Amazon Launchpad is a unique platform that serves two core purposes. On one hand, it’s a marketplace within a marketplace that enables customers to sift through a range of cutting-edge and innovative items produced by vetted startups. On the other hand, Launchpad is an incredibly useful service point for small businesses in need of a helping hand.

Although Amazon provides a marketplace for scores of companies, Launchpad vendors are given a bit of special treatment. Launchpad product listings are inherently more user-friendly, and allow startups to weave all-encompassing, custom narratives surrounding their products with the help of larger images, videos and more space to write. Launchpad vendors also enjoy more opportunities to get noticed through in-house advertising and a special widget on Amazon’s storefront landing page.

Elsewhere, Launchpad offers fledgling startups plenty of logistical support via its Services Hub. The hub is essentially a space for participating vendors to seek out help from colleagues and more established service providers in order to bolster productivity. Help categories range from prototyping and manufacturing to funding and sales, and all participating service providers are guaranteed to respond to startup queries within seven days.

How Can I Get Involved?

Launchpad is admittedly a little bit selective in terms of who it takes on. At present, Amazon prioritizes startups funded by crowdfunding platforms, venture capital firms and other startup accelerators that are already part of the company’s existing network — which includes names like Kickstarter, Andreesen Horowitz and Hardware Club. That said, Amazon has said it is willing to consider startups supported by companies outside the network on a case-by-case basis. Existing Amazon sellers can also apply for the program.

In order to apply for Launchpad, you must first register as an Amazon vendor and upload some basic product information onto the site. You’ll then be asked to confirm an initial order and ship an initial load of products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. That order will essentially be used by the site to evaluate whether there’s a genuine demand for your company’s products.

If approved to join Launchpad, vendors won’t be getting a free ride. They will be expected to pay Amazon an incremental referral fee at five percent on top of the site’s standard referral fee on each item sold. That additional fee applies to all seller selections, and is charged on the total sum paid for the item by the buyer — including taxes.

Is Launchpad Right for My Business?

Amazon Launchpad provides a unique set of benefits for budding startups. Not only does the program drastically bolster a company’s visibility on the world’s best known eCommerce marketplace, but it also helps connect startups with all of the resources and service providers they’ll need in order to establish themselves. That saves small business owners a whole lot of time and hassle.

But that’s not to say the platform is without its own set of drawbacks. First and foremost, as a Launchpad vendor you’ll be expected to take part in the eCommerce giant’s ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’ service — which essentially means risking shipping all of your inventory off to Amazon wholesale before a customer has even had a chance to buy anything. That’s pretty standard practice for larger, more established companies; however, it could potentially cut a slice out of a startup’s initial profit margin.

That being said, a vast majority of startups would likely argue this is a small price to pay for the all-encompassing support that Launchpad and Amazon’s global fulfillment network provide. At the end of the day, no two businesses are alike — so you’ll have to look at the pros and cons to figure out whether Launchpad is right for your startup.


12 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Social Media to Their Advantage

thumbs up

Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn’s communication features aren’t only beneficial for small businesses with a specific client base. B2B companies can use them to their advantage as well. That’s why we asked 12 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What B2B social media tips can companies use to communicate with potential customers?”

Here are some YEC community members’ B2B social media tips:

1. Create Valuable Content

“Most social networks allow you to tag other accounts. Create content that is valuable to a prospect and tag them. This is a great way to show them that you exist. This technique is most effective if you can show off your company’s skills and what you can do for your prospect with the content you share.” ~ Andrew Namminga, Andesign

2. Provide Them With the Value They Need

“As a B2B, there are a variety of ways to communicate and appeal to current and potential customers. Unlike B2C, your social media may not be full of viral posts, but it is still important to “humanize your brand” and offer a personal, creative appeal. Create content such as e-books, videos and articles that are full of valuable information specific to the needs of your target audience.” ~ David Tomas, Cyberclick

3. Focus on Brand Identity

“It’s easy to see why humorous, inspirational or amazing content drives engagement. Social media at its best focuses on what we care about most deeply. This is true for B2B companies and each of us personally. This doesn’t limit a company from focusing on sales or conversion but provides a lens to present the content in a way that’s meaningful to customers and prospects.” ~ Curtis Thornhill, Apt Marketing Solutions

4. Show Expertise

“When potential customers are seeking a partner, they want an expert. And often, they look long before they decide to purchase. Creating consistent, relevant content that illustrates your expertise, approach, culture and core values will help keep you top of mind whenever potential customers are ready to make a decision. When they research options, they will find your company.” ~ Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt

5. Use Different Mediums

“Using social media, you can utilize great graphics/visualizations, videos, and blog posts to show your customer your platform (or solution). Share content on how your product can create value for them, solve a need, or save money, time or other resources. Keep a pipeline of interesting content and examples of your solutions for potential customers intrigued about your service.” ~ Nemoy Rau, US Biometrix

6. Network and Broadcast Company News

“Word of mouth can be a powerful tool. Social media can help you create a strong network of influencers and top organizations to position yourself as an expert and influencer in your industry. You can also broadcast exciting company news, participate in industry/charity events, and write articles or blog posts that provide potential customers insight into why they should want to work with your company.” ~ Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic

7. Listen Across Social Networks

“With the myriad of social monitoring tools available, B2B companies can listen and monitor to conversations online. Using tools such as Mention or Brandwatch, youcan find potential customers talking about your competitor or even asking questions about a particular problem that your product or service solves. You canengage them directly. They’ve already started the conversation.” ~Jon Tsourakis, Revital Agency, LLC

8. Humanize and Relate Breaking News to your Brand

B2B companies should create and share content that humanizes their brand onsocial media. It is most effective if the content tells a story that supports your brand and shares something about the company values/mission. Figure out a way to make breaking news relate to your brand and then create media that supports the message. The news grows quickly on social media and can spotlight your brand.” ~ Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

9. Identify What Connects You

“Skill set and reputation matter. But people do business with folks they like and with whom they have some shared interests. That said, identify your targets and find similarities. Do they share photos of team building? Chime in and share a few of yours. If you were networking in person, you’d look to identify what you have in common. Social media is no different.” ~ Megan Smith, Brownstone PR

10. Create Trust

“Ever research a restaurant or business’s Facebook page to see how active they are as a way to determine the quality of their product/service? This is a very common research step these days that many businesses fail to comprehend. Having socialmedia pages isn’t enough. They must be used as a platform for building trust and backing up your UVP — or the potential customer will move on.” ~ Wesley Mathews, High Level Marketing

11. Use Surveys to Reach Out

“Since social media is designed around sharing opinions. It’s a good idea to leverage this intent through the use of surveys to reach out and communicate with new customers. Not only do you get the benefit of collecting intelligence on what potential customers really want, but you also have a list of names and contact information to share evidence that you can fuflill their desires.” ~ Murray Newlands,

12. Have Real Conversations

“Too often, we forget that social media is, at it’s core, just another tool for conversation. Rather than spending all of your time “broadcasting” your thought leadership and ideas, invest in starting one-on-one conversations with people you want to get to know. Setting up private Twitter lists based on account names or keywords and then sending personal messages is a great place to start.” ~ Alyssa Conrardy, Prosper Strategies.


How To Use Facebook Chat Bots to Market Your Business

fb chat bots

You’ve heard about bad bots and the havoc they wreak for website owners, but the Facebook chat bots just launched for its Messenger app are the good kind.

Facebook is opening up its Messenger platform in beta to allow chat bots into the application. These bots will let businesses deliver more services for their customers through the developer and business ecosystem of Facebook. This move is one way for the social media giant to integrate more functionalities into its Messenger platform, while at the same time keeping up with chat competitors that have already deployed their own bots.

Facebook Chat Bots Deliver

As reported by TechCrunch before it even was announced by Facebook at F8, the company had been working with chat bot developers for Messenger as early as January of 2016 or even earlier. The accessibility the bots will provide is going to let your company interact with an AI-powered rep from a business within the ecosystem of the biggest social network in the world.

If Facebook has its way, every business will be using Messenger to automate their customer service instead of 800-numbers and the dated menu system of this technology. A well designed bot can deliver more options than 800-numbers while providing services that are key in today’s digital ecosystem, such as sending links, showing products with images and descriptions along with additional services and features.

With more than 50 million businesses using Messenger for communication, there is already a large user base that will be able to easily integrate the new features to enhance the way they make themselves accessible. The Facebook chat bots can automate weather and traffic updates, customize communications for shipping notifications and receipts, as well as deliver live automated messages by interacting directly with users that want the information.

A new search bar will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language processing combined with human help to let you talk to Messenger bots so you can connect with companies that already have bots. This means 800-numbers could be replaced with chat bots in the near future, as this technology delivers customer service experience that is dictated by the user without having to wait for live agents or going through IVR menu trees.

The bots can also improve the sales process or the way you look for information by answering your criteria for a particular product or service on a website instead of searching for it yourself. So next time you visit a news site, only the news with the criteria you have specified will pop up. These features will be achieved through the Messenger Send / Receive API, which will support sending and receiving text, images and interactive rich bubbles containing multiple calls-to-action (CTA).

The three main features of the bots for Messenger as posted by Facebook are:

  • Send/Receive API – A new capability to send and receive text, images, and rich bubbles with CTAs.
  • Generic Message Templates – These are built by Facebook with structured messages with call to actions, horizontal scroll, URLs, and postbacks, thus eliminating the need to learn a new programming language to interact with your bot.
  • Welcome screen + Null state CTAs – Is designed to feel like an app with the real estate and the tools to customize your experience as a developer. With these tools, users are able to discover featured bots and enter into conversation with your brand, your Messenger greeting, and a call to action to “Get Started”.

Eventually Facebook will monetize these features, and one of the ways it will do so is with “Sponsored Message.” In an interview on TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of product for Messenger David Marcus told Josh Constine, the company will be judicious in how the ads are delivered to its users. “These will definitely be limited…we’re very paranoid about that and we don’t want bad things to happen to anyone.”

Facebook will send the Sponsored Messages ads to users that have initiated a conversation with a business. Conversely advertisers can purchase “Click To Message” news feed ads when a conversation with their bot has begun. According to the company, the bots can recommend purchases to recoup ad dollars.

What makes the Facebook chat bot a very desirable tool is the reach Messenger has with its 900 million plus users. With an ecosystem that has been optimized for developers and a proven advertising platform, it could prove to be one of the best options for businesses to interact with their customers without the high cost of call center agents.

Bot development tools will eventually dominate the way we communicate in the digital world by removing the complex barriers of programming. Facebook’s foray into this segment with Messenger is just the beginning. So if you want to experience what the future will bring, dive in and see what these bots can do for your small business. And if you develop an innovative way to connect with your customers, please let us know.


How Can Businesses Use Facebook Continuous Live Video?

facebook live

When it comes to social media, Facebook is undeniably king. That’s why businesses bend over backwards to try and engage with users via the social media platform — and it’s also why they’ve been working hard to take advantage of Facebook’s video capabilities.

With the launch of the new Facebook continuous live video API, those capabilities have drastically expanded.

Announced in April, this latest expansion of Facebook Live will enable users to stream 24-hour live coverage of anything and everything — from a window filled with adorable puppies to the backstage goings-on during an awards show.

Facebook Continuous Live Video Growing

A few weeks on, the new Facebook continuous live video API has grown by leaps and bounds. Over 100 broadcasters have already hopped on the bandwagon, and global brands are leveraging these new platform capabilities in order to reach users in new and engaging ways.

Disney has used Live API to hand fans sneak peaks from the red carpet, CSPAN has used it to bring viewers closer to this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner and Bleacher Report has been using it to answer questions about the NFL Draft.

“We’ve already seen some interesting use cases — for example, it was used by to power nature cameras — and we’re looking forward to seeing what Live API developers come up with in the future,” Facebook video head Fidji Simo told TechCrunch. “We expect developers and publishers to get creative with this new capability.”

That being said, there are plenty of ways that smaller businesses can get creative with the new Facebook continuous live video API.

According to Simo, restaurants can utilize Facebook Live in order to walk diners through a typical service, cottage manufacturers can showcase their processes and B2B companies can stage live tutorials. Weather-driven industries like ski resorts or surf shops can even host a continuous stream of local weather conditions so that customers from across the globe know when it’s time to come in.

Better yet, businesses can then directly interact with those viewers in order to generate leads and forge stronger consumer relationships.

“Live video on Facebook is truly interactive ,as broadcasters engage with their commenters and respond to their suggestions and questions,” Simo said. “In fact, from initial data, we’ve seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.”

Continuous streaming isn’t the only new addition Facebook is making to its Live API. The social media giant will also enable businesses to post videos that are only visible to users based in particular locations that are relevant to that business.

Businesses can also select a video to expire after a certain amount of time in order to generate a sense of urgency around their continuous stream — and Facebook has introduced an age-gate that ensures underage users cannot view certain videos. That will prove a huge benefit for alcohol brands or local bars looking to leverage Facebook’s Continuous Video Live API capabilities.

“We’ve been humbled by all the amazing and creative ways that people have used Facebook Continuous Live Video so far, and we’re committed to creating the best experience for everyone who wants to create, watch and interact with live videos on Facebook,” Simo said. “We’ll keep working to bring you the best ways to broadcast, interact with, and discover live video. Stay tuned.”