Artificial Intelligence Technology and Innovation

SocialBots – opportunity or threat ?

Written by Léa BERNARDIN

What is a SocialBot ?

A SocialBot is a software program using artificial intelligence designed to pass the Turing Test (Artificial Intelligence Test, based on the capacity to imitate human conversation). It uses Data analysis and text mining software and is sophisticated enough to be taken for a human. SocialBots represent a new way to interact with the customer and to promote companies.

SocialBots are created for inter alia, marketing, public relations, or customer services. Typically SocialBots are a type of bot controlling a social media account. They can repost messages or create their own by picking out common words on a subject (often keywords chosen by a company to represent the brand).

SocialBots can also act as ChatBots.  ChatBots are designed to provide a useful service, like automatic responders which can provide a dynamic customer care for example. There are two types of ChatBots. First, there are unintelligent ChatBots which use predefined answers written by real people and second, intelligent ChatBots which use machine learning. We will be more interested in the second one for the purpose of this article.

Additionally, other ChatBots are created for malicious use and can be harmful for business.


How can Socialbots drive a business?

When facing company issues, a social media bot enables you to cut down your manpower (and in the same time cut your resources down) even if you need someone behind the robot to control and monitor it. It is important that the monitoring team creates a strategy and has immense knowledge of how social media works. Also, it’s important that the team understands how to respond to customers about complaints concerning ChatBots. Additionally, you do not have to worry about posting frequently or at a certain time of day. SocialBots can be encoded to post information and details as you wish.

Moreover, SocialBots are able to conduct customer games, treat the customer management of a company by answering their questions and collecting their data, and so on. They can make trends become popular such as hashtags, people, or websites. This is important when considering that customers are more likely to purchase something when they see that multiple other people are purchasing that item. This happens because people tend to follow others’ behavior. That’s how SocialBots can help your business to develop through popularity.

A good example of how AI (Artificial Intelligence) works is Apple’s SocialBot, Siri.   The latest data (Business Intelligence) showed that people spend more time on chat apps (messenger, whatsApp, WeChat, etc.) than on social media sites because it’s what enable themto keep in touch with their friends. This is why so many companies want to be accessible by using SocialBots. ChatBots are user-friendly and a good tool to keep the consumer on your website and make them read the content. These are reasons why ChatBots are so exciting to invest in.

Moreover, ChatBots allows to personalize more of the service because the bot is dedicated to the customer it answers to, anytime and anywhere. This is important when considering customer service teams which can be overworked or cannot manage to answer everyone. Bots are time savers because they go straight to the point.

How can it be dangerous ?

Social media sites were created to connect real people and the fact that bots can invade them can be perceived as unethical. They can be taken for humans so well that they can become real influencers over customer opinion. Moreover, they can spread some information without verifying the facts or the sources (accusations on Twitter during the Boston marathon bombing, due to bots).

As I said previously, people can be vulnerable and tend to make choices based on others’ opinions.  For instance, consider topics that can have a huge impact on society such as politics. Some bots, designed specifically to harm, can manipulate social media site discourse with misinformation, rumors and so on.

To go further, we can highlight that the influence bots have on our society can have consequences on the stability of the market. Market operators often pay attention and react in response to what they read on social media (ex : flash crash of the US stock market after that a rumor about a terrorist attack launched against the white house, injuring Obama was spread on Twitter in 2013). This can cause an erosion of trust in social media sites and change, even long term, the perception and use we have of whole model companies and what they are actually building their business on.

In conclusion, social media sites have to be used and trusted carefully because the discourse created can be biased due to SocialBots. Despite this, when used with an honest aim, bots can be very useful for a company and drive great growth and success.

About the author



Junior Marketing Project Manager in Finance