How to Build a Basic Messenger Bot
By Dana Tran | Published: August 1 2017
So you want to learn how to use Chatfuel? Then you’re in the right place!
In this Chatfuel tutorial, you will learn how to build a basic Messenger Bot. It comes with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions and tons of screenshots!
Here’s what to expect in this how-to guide:
- How to create a greeting message and welcome message for your Messenger Bot
- How to setup your Bot to automatically reply to the keyword “hello”…and other unknown responses
- How to add your website link to your Bot’s persistent menu
- How to create a simple main menu with a photo gallery
- How to drive traffic to your bot by creating buttons and how to add a Message button to your Facebook Page
- How to send a simple broadcast message
Before You Build Your Bot
To build a Messenger Bot, you’ll need:
- A Facebook Account
- A Facebook Page (Messenger Bots can only “live” on a Facebook Page. Not on a Personal profile or Group)
- A mobile device (phone or tablet)
- A laptop or desktop with internet access ???
You’ll be using your laptop (or desktop) to build the Messenger bot. To test your Bot, we’ll be using your mobile device. You’ll be switching between the two devices quite often!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though it is *technically* possible to connect more than one Bot platform to single Facebook Page, you’re going to run into conflicts!!! So if you want to build another “Test” Messenger Bot (eg. using the ManyChat platform), be sure to create a separate Facebook Page!
Ready? Let’s get started!
a) How To Create A New Facebook Page
Even if you already have a Facebook page – I still recommend that you create a new page for your Messenger Bot…for testing purposes.
You are allowed to have more than one Facebook page, so you’re not breaking any rules. Facebook does changes their rules from time to time. Here’s the link if you want to double check their page guideline.
- Click on this link to create a Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/
- Select the page type that relates to your business
- Enter a name for your page (eg. Your Business Name + Bot)
- Click on button “Get Started”
- Voila! A brand new home for your Messenger Bot!
b) How to Create a Chatfuel Account
- Using your desktop (or laptop), go to Chatfuel and click on “Get Started for Free” button
- You’ll be prompt to login to your Facebook account and give Chatfuel permission to receive your public profile and email address
- Once you click on “Continue”, you’ll be redirected back to Chatfuel.
- “Connect” the page that you just created in the previous step
- You should now be logged in to Chatfuel and see a Welcome Message.
(If you have any issues connecting your page, please contact the Chatfuel support. I am not affiliated with Chatfuel)
c) How to Unpublish your Facebook Pages (Optional)
By default, when you create a Facebook Page, it is set to publish (i.e., accessible by the public).
If you don’t want anyone to message you or your bot, you can unpublish your Facebook Page.
- Navigate to your new Facebook Page (the one you created at the beginning of Step 1a)
- Click on Settings in the top right-hand corner
- “Edit” for Page Visibility (should be the first option up at the top)
- Check “Unpublish Page” and then on “Save Changes”
- Your Facebook page should now be unpublished.
How To Setup the Greeting & Welcome Message
The Greeting Text is used to describe your business or to let visitors know how your bot can help them! If you don’t setup a greeting text, the page description will be shown on the welcome screen. For example, here’s my greeting text on my welcome screen for DanaBot.
a) How to Setup a Greeting for new conversations
- On your Facebook page, Click on Settings in the top right-hand corner
- Click on “Messaging” in the sidebar
- Scroll down to the last option “Show a Messenger Greeting”
- Change this option to “Yes” and click on the “Change” button
- Enter in your Messenger Greeting and click “Save”
b) How to View Your Greeting
- On your mobile device, use your browser to login to Chatfuel (https://chatfuel.com)
- Click on My First Bot
- Click on the m.me link up at the top
- This should open Messenger on your mobile device
- You should now see your Bot’s welcome screen with your custom greeting next to the blue “i” icon. But do NOT click on that blue “Get Started” button just yet!!!
- Messenger can cache your greeting. If you made changes, you might not see the updated greeting right away.
- The Greeting Text only shows up the first time the user interacts with the Page on Messenger
- You can see the greeting text only on mobile devices. Not on desktop or the web version of Messenger.
c) How to Change Your Welcome Message
What’s the difference between a Welcome Message and a Greeting Message? Let me show you!
- On your laptop or desktop, in Chatfuel, click on the “Welcome Message” block.
- Let’s change your Welcome message to something shorter…for example…
- FYI – no need to save your changes. It gets automatically saved! You can tell from the green checkmark notification right underneath your bot’s name!
- Next, grab your mobile device, and click on the blue “Get Started” button for your Bot (the one I told you not to tap earlier!)
- You should get a message from your Bot with your new custom welcome message!
How To Setup a Default Reply
If you read Part 1 of this Guide, you’ll know that you can build a Messenger Bot to automatically reply to common questions.
However, a Bot can’t answer ALL the questions. You’ll still need to monitor the chat and reply to messages.
If someone types in a word or question that the Bot does NOT understand, it will reply with a default reply.
That’s what we’re going to setup in this step.
To change the Default Reply:
- Click on the “Default answer” block under the “Built-In Blocks”
- By default, there’s a really long message says “The Default Answer block is your bot’s default response to any input from a user….“
- Let’s change this text to say “Hmmm. I’m not sure I understand. Sorry!”
How To Setup Keywords
How do keywords work? If the user enters in a specific keyword, the bot will automatically reply with a predefined message – created by you! You can setup replies for any frequently asked questions, or for single keywords such as “hours”, “help”, “human”, “hello”.
How to Setup Keywords
- In the left side menu, click on “Set Up AI” then on “Add AI Rule”
- Let’s setup an automatic reply to the word “hello”. To do this:
- Type “hello” under “If User Says Something Similar To”
- Type “hi there” under the “Bot Replies with Text”
- Let’s create some variation in the reply. Turn on “random” and click on the button “+ Add Answer”
- Type in a second automated reply (eg. hello! hello!)
FYI: Instead of having the bot reply with a simple text message, you could setup the bot to reply with a “Block” that contains text, images, videos, buttons.
b) Let’s Test the Keyword and Default Reply!
- On your mobile device, use the keyboard to type in “hello”
- Your Messenger Bot should automatically reply back!
- Type in “hello” again several times. The automated reply should sometimes be “hi there!” and at other times, it should say “hello! hello!”
- Type in any another word or sentence, the bot should get confused and reply with the default reply that we setup in Step 3.
The persistent menu is a slide-up menu that’s located at the bottom of your Messenger Bot. (If you want to see a real-life example, visit DanaBot)
You can create “shortcuts” to the different modules of your bot (useful when you add more content), links to your site or a submenu!
a) How to add your website URL to the Persistent Menu
- In the left-hand menu, click on “Configure”
- Click on the “+ Add Menu Item”
- Change the name of the Menu Item to “Visit My site”
- Then click on the URL option and type in your website URL
b) How to hide the “Powered by Chatfuel” to a submenu
By default, Chatfuel will display the “Powered by Chatfuel” in your bot’s persistent. To remove this, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid Pro Plan.
c) Testing Your Persistent Menu
Back on your mobile device, check your bot’s menu. You should see “Visit my site” and “More” right underneath the “Send a Message”.
Tip: If you don’t see an updated persistent menu, try tapping on any other contact in Messenger and then back to your bot.
Let’s create your Bot’s Main Menu. This is different from the Persistent Menu we created in the previous step.
The Main Menu is a visual gallery and a starting point where users can access any and all information that’s available on your Messenger Bot. It’s like the “home screen” of your bot.
For this example, let’s assume that we’re creating a Bot for a catering company. We’ll create a super-simple Main Menu with a food photo gallery to showcase our culinary skills!
Optional: Click here to download the images that we’ll be using in this example
a) How to Create a Main Menu for Your Messenger Bot
To build a bot in Chatfuel, you would add content (eg. text, images) to “blocks.” Each block can contain a series of text cards, and other content (such as images or videos). To keep your “blocks” organized, you can “group” them together. You can link several blocks together and easily reuse blocks!
- On the sidebar, click on the button “+ Add Block”.
- Change the title to “Main Menu” and click on the Gallery icon
- Let’s update the Heading and the Description
- Next click on “Upload Image” to insert the main.jpg image
- It’ll then ask if you want the gallery to have a square image or a horizontal image. Let’s leave it as a horizontal image. So just click on the “Next” button.
- Crop the image (optional) and click on “Done”
- Voila! You should have something that looks like this:
b) How to Create a Gallery for Your Messenger Bot
Let’s create a new block that contains the photo gallery. We’ll link it to this Main Menu later…
- Click “+ Add Block”
- Similar to the steps before, change the name of the block to “Gallery” and click on the “Gallery” icon to…you know…add a gallery. 🙂
- Follow the same step as before to upload the breakfast image, add a heading and description.
- To add a second gallery slide, click on the “+” button
- Repeat the same step as before and add in as many additional slides as you want. Here’s what it should look like…oh…and I apologize if this tutorial is making you hungry. Hehe…
- Once you’re done, let’s add a button from the Main Menu to this gallery. To do this, let’s go back to the Main Menu
- Click on “+ Add Button”
- Rename the button to “Gallery” and click on “Blocks”
- Select “Gallery” from the drop down menu
c) How to add a Main Menu button to the Persistent Menu
Let’s just quickly recap before we continue. So far, we created a Gallery “block” which can be accessed from the Main Menu “block”. To access the Main Menu, we’ll add a button called “Main Menu” to the persistent menu.
- In the left-hand menu, click on “Configure”
- Under the Persistent Menu section, click on the “+ Add Menu Item”
- Change the name of the Menu Item to “Main Menu”
- Select “Main Menu” from the Blocks drop down menu
d) How to add a Main Menu button to the Default Reply
Another place you can add the “Main Menu” button is in the default reply. (Refresher: the default reply is the text the bot sends when it doesn’t know what to do!)
- To add the Main Menu button to the default reply, click on the “Default answer” block under the “Build-In Blocks” section
- Then on “+ Add Button”
- Type in “Main Menu” as the Button name
- Then select the “Main Menu” block from the drop down (Tip: Later on, when you have many blocks, you can enter the name of the block to filter the drop down list)
Now for the fun part…grab your phone to test out your Main Menu and Gallery!
Note: It might take a while for the Persistent menu to refresh on a mobile device. If you’re having issues, try accessing your bot from the web. Alternatively, you can just type in a random word. Your bot should reply with the “default reply” where you can tap on the “Main Menu” button.
Driving traffic to your Messenger Bot
a) How To Add a Message Button to Your Facebook Page
One of the ways visitors can access your Messenger Bot is by clicking on the “Message” button on your Facebook Page.
- Go to your Facebook Page. On the “Page” view, click on the blue “Add a Button”
- In the popup window, click on “Use Our Messenger Bot”, then on “Get Started”
- Click on “Add Button” to confirm!
- You should now see the “Get Started” button on your Facebook Page. You can even test the button to make sure that it’s working!
b) Chatfuel Growth Tools
To access Chatfuel’s built-in marketing tools, click on “Grow” in the left-hand sidebar.
With Chatfuel, you can:
- Acquire users from your website – by creating a “Send to Messenger” button or a “Checkbox” button
- Acquire users from comments – automatically message users who comment on a post
- Create a Landing Page – for your Messenger Bot. Here’s what mine looks like: https://chatfuel.com/bot/thinktuitive
Sending a Broadcast Message
You can keep in touch with your Messenger subscribers by sending out a broadcast! Since this is a test Messenger Bot, let’s send out a broadcast to your ENTIRE subscriber list (consisting of 1 subscriber – you!)
- On the side menu, click on “Broadcasts” then on the “+” sign under “Deliver Your Message Now”
- You can see that the broadcast will be sent to 1 user (unfortunately, you can’t see the names of the users)
- Let’s add a text card and an image card
- Upload an image and create a message (You can also add other types of cards and a button, but for this tutorial, we’ll keep it simple.)
- Click on “Send” to deliver your message now
- Grab your mobile device and check your Messenger for your broadcast message!
Note: Facebook has strict rules around Subscriptions, and sending Broadcast. I go over subscription and messaging rules, in detail in my course, Bot Essentials…but you can refer to Facebook’s policy for more detail (warning – it’s not a fun read!).
Your Next Steps
Congrats on building your first Messenger Bot using Chatfuel! (Hooray!!!)
Keep in mind that this was just an introductory Chatfuel tutorial. You can do a LOT more with Messenger Bot! There’s segmenting, custom fields, creating forms, creating campaigns, sequences, integrations with third-party tools through Zapier’s webhook…and so much more.