Written by Dan George, Shelley Bowdler and Luke Charalambous

AspectusCultureClub7am spin class, but there’s one resolution that we have stuck to – making 2017 ‘The Year of Creativity’ at Aspectus.

Being a hardworking agency – full of talented, digitally-savvy people – we’ve always been a creative bunch. But this year we wanted to push that further, so we’ve launched a new initiative: ‘Culture Club’.

And sadly, no, this doesn’t mean we’ll rock our best top hats and dangly earrings and wail Karma Chameleon every Friday. Instead, we’ll spend a lunch hour every month gathering together, discussing what’s happening within the media industry (and pop culture more generally) and examining one specific digital trend in more detail. We will then explore the ways in which it’s being used by brands and brainstorm how we can use new technology to deliver exceptional, innovative campaigns for our clients.

AspectusCultureClubbots

We kicked off Culture Club this week with our first session on bots. The topics we discussed were:

Where did bots come from?

How are brands using bots?

How can our clients use bots in new and interesting ways?

Here’s what we learnt:

What are bots?

A bot is a computer program that simulates human conversation, or runs automated tasks through artificial intelligence (AI).

Where did bots come from?

They started off simple enough, using automated technology (like the now defunct Twitterfeed) to connect an RSS feed to a Twitter account. But then messaging platforms started opening up their APIs to developers, and we haven’t looked back since. Now you can find bots in Facebook Messenger, Skype, Kik and Twitter – in fact it’s hard to avoid them.

There’s a bot for that

Smart bots can help us get stuff done more efficiently than ever before. They can help us to schedule a meeting, find a fact or turn the lights off when we leave the house. But they can be used for entertainment too – for example, @snowballpoetry creates weirdly beautiful poems. Don’t believe us? Check it out.

Bots can go wrong

Remember Tay? Microsoft released the AI chatbot last March but it was pulled less than 24 hours later after it started posting offensive tweets. It was a valuable lesson for Microsoft and you can read their learnings here.

How are brands using bots?

Up to 80% of customer queries are repetitive, so it makes sense for brands to use bots to free up staff time to respond to higher-value queries. There is a clear advantage to using bots as a customer service channel, but it’s not the only reason. Brands have developed bots that make it easier for customers to:

  • Read the news: CNN, TechCrunch and Wall Street Journal use bots to deliver personalised news recommendations to its readers
  • Book a cab: Need to order a cab? Now you can request an Uber straight from Facebook Messenger
  • Go shopping: Forgot to order flowers for Mother’s Day? Message 1-800 Flowers and they’ll be delivered that day. Looking to refresh your wardrobe? H&M’s Kik bot offers personal style tips and different combinations of clothes
  • Order a pizza: With just one word (or emoji) customers can automatically order their favourite pizza from Domino’s
  • Cook a meal: When you’re low on dinner ideas, send an emoji to Whole Foods’ Messenger chatbot. Customers can submit a food emoji (such as an aubergine or banana) and then receive recipes that involve those ingredients
  • Board a flight: Dutch airline KLM has taken the hassle out of flying by using chatbots to streamline its customer service process. When customers book flights through its website, they can use Messenger to get check-in updates, notifications of delays, and even download an electronic boarding pass

If you’re a well of untapped creativity and want to be part of Culture Club – join our team! We’re currently recruiting for several roles across the agency. Click here to apply.

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