This article was written on the 6th of December, a few days before Facebook Messenger's Big Depreciation of European Chatbots. For more information about Facebook's decision, read this article.

Choosing the right channel for your chatbot is an important decision. Many factors can influence this choice: where do your users expect to talk to your chatbot, what are key capabilities of your chatbot, do you need to own your audience or rely on an existing platform...

These criteria can also evolve with time, and when selecting a chatbot technology, you should be able to change the channel or deploy your chatbot on multiple channels at once with no or little changes in your code! You never know how your needs will evolve and it is always important to keep your available options in mind.

One of the events that can happen during the lifetime of your chatbot is, as is happening today with Messenger, for the platform to unilaterally deprecate some important features that your chatbot relies on, or threaten to remove almost entirely the support for rich chatbots altogether 😱 .

In this article, we are going to list the main alternatives to Facebook Messenger for your chatbot and look at the pros and cons of each of the candidates!

1. Website Chatbot (or Webchat)

We have all seen at least one a little clickable "bubble" at the bottom right corner of a website window. These chatbots are very useful because they can interact with the  user at any point during their visit on your website.

Pros & Cons
+ Very easy to integrate
+ More chatbot features than any other channel
+ Rich interactions with users
+ You own your audience directly and don't need to rely on a third-party platform
- The user must be on the website to talk to the chatbot

2. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a great chatbot communication channel when it comes to engaging with customers. It allows your business to connect with consumers on their favorite messaging App.

Pros & Cons
+ Available on the most used messaging App
+ Reach your users even when they are offline
- Not free to deploy
- Limited features

3. Telegram

Telegram is surely the number two messaging app right behind WhatsApp in Europe, and is especially known for its great end-to-end security features. It is a very popular option in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Also, it does not belong to a big corporation such as Facebook, Microsoft, etc... With Telegram, you can be pretty sure your chatbot will be running fine for years.

Pros & Cons
+ Independant
+ You chatbot can broadcast messages to users
+ Very popular in Eastern Europe
+ Secure
- Very few people use Telegram outside of Russia

4. Wordpress plugin

Wordpress powers over half of all the websites on internet! If you have a Wordpress website, it is important to think about deploying your chatbot there.

Pros & Cons
+ Very easy and quick to deploy
+ Available on any page of the Wordpress website
+ Usually, the same features as a Webchat plugin
-  Only available on Wordpress

Alternatives
Wix, Webflow

5. Alexa & Google Assistant

Voicebots are a great variation of chatbots, and the main players in that space are definitely Alexa (Amazon) and Google Assistant (often referred to as Google Home). Although they are incredibly powerful for simple tasks such as playing music, their lack of UI when it comes to longer conversations that would usually require buttons, carousel, etc. can be an issue for some types of chatbots.

Pros & Cons
+ It is very pleasant to Alexa
+ Better audio UX
-  Very limited UX when it comes to anything but audio
-  It is not a 1-click deployment

6. Slack & Discord

Building a community is such an important aspect of a product. Word to mouth happen more often than not when users feel part of a strong community in which they can share their experience and ask for help. Slack and Discord both are communication that help building these communities and having a chatbot on Slack or Discord can help you better engage with your users.

Pros & Cons
+ Slack and Discord platforms offer a lot of design
+ Push notification available
+ Users are used to interact with chatbots on these platform
+ Commonly used for simple transactional interactions
-  The user must be a part of the community, not usable without logging in
-  Mostly suited for short, transactional chatbot interactions with buttons
-  Slack was recently bought by Salesforce and hard to know what their plans

7. WeChat

Every single Chinese citizen has WeChat on their mobile phone, it is widely used and is the main and pretty much only communication channel used in China. It is an opportunity for European businesses to expand in the Chinese market.

Pros & Cons
+ Massively used in China
+ Push notification available
+ A lot of chatbot features available, like integrated payment
+ Users are used to interacting with chatbots on WeChat
-  It is used pretty much only in China
-  Deployment is fairly complicated (it requires a business in China)

8. Mobile App

15 years ago, there were no mobile apps. Now mobile apps are an integral part of our daily lives and smartphone users are accustomed to look for a company's mobile apps in the Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store. Therefore it can be really helpful for any business to integrate a chatbot in their mobile app.

Pros & Cons
+ Full control over the design and chatbot features
+ Users are used to using apps on their smartphone
+ Push notifications available
-  More complex and expensive to deploy
-  A specific app must be installed on the user's device

Conclusion

Overall, all communication channels have pros and cons, but most of them will be better than Facebook Messenger after the 16th of December, when EU-based chatbots will have to switch to text-only interactions. It is useful to underline that it is advised to deploy a chatbot on more than one communication channel for an optimal usage.

If you have not done so, consider migrating your Messenger chatbot to the open-source CSML chatbot engine to save it from Messenger. It will allow you to deploy it on all the channels above while retaining full ownership and control over your code and users.

Home Page | Goodbyemessenger
Migrate your chatbot from Manychat, Chatfuel and Dialogflow to avoid feature depreciation on Facebook Messenger