British Vogue is the latest brand to create its own bot for Facebook Messenger.
Launched just in time for London Fashion Week, it is designed to send curated and personalised news direct to the reader’s inbox.
But with a wealth of recent brand bots failing to ignite much excitement – will this be any different?
Here are my thoughts.
How does it work?
The bot can be found on the British Vogue Facebook page or direct via Facebook Messenger.
It follows a fairly standard formula, requiring users to select their own personal preferences about the articles they want to receive. Once you start interacting with the service, it will ask questions to determine how often you would like updates, whether you want curated highlights or all stories coming from London Fashion Week.
You can also choose to ask for updates relating to specific fashion designers, e.g. Topshop Unique or Tommy Hilfiger.
Based on these preferences, it will then deliver articles (from the Vogue website) that you will ideally find the most interesting, direct to your Messenger inbox.
Smart or simplistic?
I recently mentioned how Pizza Express’s Messenger bot is more of a multiple-choice questionnaire rather than a proper chatbot. Sadly, British Vogue’s example is a similar sort of affair, merely asking you to choose from different options rather than actually partake in any chatting activity.
The only real difference is that it can instantly send updates or stories from a specific designer if you type in their name.
However, even this isn’t that smart.
I deliberately miss-spelled a designer’s surname to test whether or not it would still understand. It didn’t – which shows how basic the technology currently is.
Publishers cutting through news feeds
That being said, there’s certainly something for fashion fans to enjoy here. With the fast-paced nature of London Fashion Week, the service is definitely a convenient way for people to stay on top of the latest runway news.
Users are arguably less likely to passively scroll through their news feed in search of this type of content, meaning that click-through rates could be higher if sent directly.
This makes me think that bots like this will be more impactful when they are based around a timely or seasonal event.
Despite British Vogue saying that the bot has the ability to evolve over time – which I assume means the service will continue even after Fashion Week has ended – will users continue to show as much interest?
I could be wrong, but I doubt that fans are invested enough in specific designers to read every single update about them in future. Or indeed, whether there will be enough updates to even send once Fashion Week has finished.
Likewise, there is also the danger of users getting annoyed or bored with daily updates, meaning that the bot could have a rather short shelf-life.
While it’s good to see publishers experimenting with Messenger bot technology, it remains to be seen whether or not it’ll have any real impact.
For daily readers of British Vogue, there’s definitely value in the direct and personalised interaction it offers. (Though you could also argue that email newsletters already deliver this). Similarly, it could further build on the current hype surrounding London Fashion Week.
For general fashion fans or people less invested in the brand, the features need to be more impressive to both pique and sustain interest – especially if the aim is to tempt people away from their news feeds long-term.
More chat about bots: