With a shortage of family doctors in many regions of the country and an over-use of hospital emergency rooms, more hospitals are looking at using social media as an online reliable source for potential patients to check out their symptoms, look for advice on solutions to their problems and receive advice on whether they need to come to the emergency room. More and more individuals research their symptoms online before seeking medical advice with a lot of those sites not being medically accredited, and to me, a bona fide hospital or emergency care centre would be the best place to seek trustworthy and reliable information. I do not believe potential users would enjoy a more “advanced” way to search, such as Chatbots, for medical questions because of privacy concerns.
A second application I foresee gathering momentum in the next year for marketers in the social media realm are Chatbots; a chatbot is a simple computer program designed to mimic conversation with the help of artificial intelligence. A good description of Chatbots, according to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is “… (they) will infuse intelligence into everything. Bots are the new apps.”
Chatbots can respond to questions and comments 24 hours a day; mistakes in e-commerce orders can be remedied easily; bots will help companies and marketers by cutting down on the number of emails it receives and free up employee time for other important activities. According to forbes.com, “conversational commerce” — the act of placing orders through online conversations — is the future of digital shopping. It will become more relevant and replace how older generations defined customer service. Chatbots will become very valuable as a marketing tool, to attract a younger consumer audience (for example, on Facebook), even before getting the target audience onto the marketer’s web site. They can be used as either voice bots or instant messaging response bots.
There are still problems to iron out; one Chatbot had to be removed from the internet as it got corrupted and started spewing racist comments, however, be on the lookout for a bot who will answer simple questions and queries, remember you if you have used it before for restaurant orders or weather information for a specific geographic location.
Cartoon by Andrew Toos