Bots, Blackface and Brands Behaving Badly

The crowds may have gone home, but the dust is still settling from Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference.  The conversation is still all about bots. The Washington Post is ready for them to start chipping away at the $50 billion app store economy. After all, no one will download a stand-alone app when you can just text a bot through Messenger, right?

Not so fast, counters The Verge. Bot are slow! We want answers now, not in the minutes that it currently takes to get a response. Widespread adoption will require convenience AND speed. Response time for email may be about 90 minutes, but response time for messaging apps needs to be closer to 90 seconds.


Bot or….Not?
There’s another catch in the whole bots-are-hot argument: Many of the bots aren’t just the clever computer program we imagine. Behind the scenes, many bots are still powered by humans who provide a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) training and quality control. AI is getting better with simple tasks, but it still hasn’t quite figured out the nuances of human language.

Just ask Microsoft what happens when you don't have a good plan in place to teach it….


Judgment Impaired
Snapchat may have just edged out Instagram as teens’ platform of choice, but two recent filters show that their decision-making may not be maturing quite so quickly.  Under the influence of….something… Snapchat teamed up with the Bob Marley estate to create a filter to celebrate 420.  While the hat and dreadlocks were enough to raise eyebrows, the fact that it gave users black skin did not go over well. At all.

It’s All About
Music legend Prince died on April 21, and with the news came the predictable onslaught of brands making it all about them. Some posts were heartfelt and moving, like Chevy’s lyrical tribute.  Others had a genuine connection, like the Xcel Energy Center and other Minnesotans.

But here’s the thing: If no one associated you with a celebrity the day before he died, it’s not a good time to start building that connection, no matter how much he meant to your creative director. (We’re looking at you, Cheerios and Four Loko.)

About the author:
Tara Saylor is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.