Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.53.28 AMYou’re busy running your business.

Why should you care about 2,000 software developers who are meeting today at the edge of San Francisco Bay in an old military warehouse called Fort Mason?

Because this week Facebook laying out its 10-year plan to these programmers and the world at its annual F8 conference. Most likely you have seen the articles and heard the news but still wonder why you should care. How does this impact your business?

That’s a great question. From Zuckerberg’s political positioning on global  openness to emerging virtual reality technology presentations how does this really matter to your business?  Given all this noise, it’s easy to overlook that what is happening there will almost certainly have a profound effect on how you do business in the coming years.

That’s right – what is being discussed at F8 today will radically change how you communicate and serve your customers tomorrow. Well, not exactly tomorrow but, certainly in the next 18-36 months.

What am I talking about? Chat Bots in Facebook Messenger.

I can hear you moan now, come on Mike – how does this apply to me? Well, it doesn’t yet – but it will.

Today a few select larger firms like Uber, KLM airlines and Hyatt Hotels have automated “chat bots” integrated into Facebook Messenger that allow customers to shop, book, change and communicate with them – all without ever having to leave Facebook or their Messenger app.

So what’s a “Chat Bot” anyway? Think of it as an app on your phone.  It’s another way to conduct specific tasks through a specialized application (app) vs. visiting a website or calling an 800 number. In this case, rather than an app on your phone it is an app (or bot) within Facebook Messenger itself.

Here’s the connection and why it matters to you:

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.00.13 AMAll of these developers are going to start building bots/apps within Messenger for businesses to communicate and sell products directly from Facebook. You’re going to want to be a part of this – so let’s get prepared to use Messenger to keep your current customers and capture new ones.

Here’s an example; to book a dentist appointment today people often call and some dentists offer email or online scheduling tools. And some marketing-savvy practices allow many common interactions to be done via phone on their mobile app.

The next “chat bot” phase that is being introduced at F8 is for all of this to take place within the Facebook Messenger environment. No phone calls, no emails, not even opening a mobile app. It will all be available on Facebook Messenger.

Now do you see it?

Of course, that means your customers have to be on Facebook and Messenger. 900 million people already are and you can bet there’s a whole lot more coming. With the convenience of one-stop shopping all within Facebook, my bet is even low level Facebook users today will abandon simple text / sms and flock to Messenger to take care of everyday tasks as well as keep in touch with friends and family.

There‘s a lot to digest but not to worry, as a Facebook SMB advisory partner let’s stay connected as I help entrepreneurs navigate this exciting new opportunity.

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