In 2016, Facebook opened up its Facebook Messenger app to third-party chatbots. Businesses are being encouraged to make chatbots work well with Messenger to serve 1.79 billion monthly active users on Facebook, one billion of whom are active on Messenger. The mass-market potential of chatbots is that its “technology will simply understand and do as the human asks,” reports Gartner.
Research cited by VentureBeat says 86 percent of millennials have a positive view of chatbots. And according to ChatbotsMagazine.com, chatbots in 2017 are like the web 20 years ago: “Everyone has a burning instinct that they need to be there, but no one’s sure what to do or how to do it right.”
Frank Salas, also known as “The Talented Mr. Salas” is a public speaker and serial entrepreneur with a focus in real estate who knows a good deal about both chatbots and virtual assistants.
His primary marketing method is social media and has been for almost a decade. Livestreaming included, Salas uses video to inform businesses about cool online processes, to give clear walkthroughs, to stay a valued member of social media communities, and much more. His expertise in outsourcing helps entrepreneurs work on their business — not in it.
But it is for his knowledge of chatbots and virtual assistants that Small Business Trends approached him.
Always traveling and location-independent, Salas is never in one place for too long. Originally from Texas, he loves cigars and the Dallas Cowboys. Long trips are where he fits in most of his writing. His passion for growth hacking keeps him up at night with creative ideas.
Outsourcing Trends in 2017: Virtual Assistants and Chatbots
Small Business Trends first spoke with Salas via Facebook in late 2016 and reconnected this month to get some uncommon insights about chatbots and virtual assistants.
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Small Business Trends: The ability to save time using “chatbots” on Facebook Messenger seems to be a hot trend now. What do businesses need to know?
Frank Salas: Many businesses don’t realize that chatbots can build up a list just like emails! You can segment them to provide super targeted messages. If you set up your chatbots properly, you can get a 96 percent open rate and 100 percent action rate. You can send videos, forms, PDFs, worksheets — anything — directly through Facebook Messenger. No sign-up needed. When we make videos and people get on our list, people don’t want emails. They want help and answers now.
Facebook chatbots now allow us as businesses to put out great content and simply say “Message my Facebook page.” And then a magic Facebook chatbot pops up and guides that person to the appropriate channel.
To be clear, this is the flow: Make content > Put out content > Tell people to message your Facebook Page > People message your Facebook page > Your chatbot sends them to the appropriate funnel. For sales, your Facebook chatbot ideally leads someone to a sales page or to use something like Calendly to book a sales call with them. Social media marketing agencies can sell these to their clients as an upsell.
Chatbots automate the visitor experience as much as possible to where you, the business owner, gets the most amount of information and context on what the visitor is looking for.
Small Business Trends: The other trend which isn’t new but hotter than ever is virtual assistants. The demand for VA’s is high, but there’s a lot of basic advice out there. Being an expert in the space, can you shock us with some advice that’s rarely given?
Frank Salas: I’ve hired, interviewed and trained thousands of virtual assistants since 2008. As you’ve heard me say before, anything you do with a phone or a keyboard can and should be outsourced.
Some tips — I share my passwords with VA’s safely using a free password vault. To make sure they’re working, you can do what I do — I monitor screens with a screenshot monitor every 2-3 minutes to track their activity level as well as which apps they use. If there’s no activity for a specified amount of time, they’re automatically clocked out. Many businesses don’t even know that this is an option.
If you need a personal executive assistant who handles your calendar, helps you with projects and emails, etc., you might want to hire someone monthly, either part-time or full-time. Here’s a very brief price breakdown. A full-time VA can cost $400-800. Part time, around $200-300. That’s per month. I know all about rates for VA’s. I’m a VA matchmaker. Most of the VA’s I work with are from the Philippines. I recently opened up in Colombia. I work with India, Thailand, and a few other Latin American countries.
Here are some other things you can have a VA do: Price research anything, edit podcasts, book transportation, make graphics, set up and confirm your appointments, rescheduling of appointments, and more. I have a free worksheet available for download which helps you identify what to outsource. There are $10 per hour tasks, $100 per hour tasks, and yes, even $10,000 per hour tasks. If a task doesn’t make you money it should be outsourced. Even if you love it — your duty to your business is to bring in more business. If you need info on flawless project management using VA’s — including how to run projects directly from your phone — or you’re unsure about whether to work with an agency to manage your staff, contact me. I know this space inside and out and I’m here to help.
Small Business Trends: How should people contact you?
Frank Salas: As I tell people at the end of my livestreams, go on my Facebook page and message me there. My chatbot then appears on Facebook Messenger, guiding the visitor according to his or her needs.
This is part of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world.
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