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The power of bots

 

Using chatbots in corporate communications 

Chatbots are automated interactive systems deployed to hold a conversation with a human user in order to carry out certain tasks. They have the potential to cut costs and make communication far more efficient. Find out more. 

 


Social bots - a threat for corporations?

Automated communication may also pose a threat, for example if used against companies in the form of social bots. The term social bots denotes accounts on social media sites that automatically post content and aren’t immediately recognizable as not being human. This begs the question of whether social bots are being used to affect communication regarding corporations – perhaps without being noticed. Find out more.

 

Automated communication & bots - a definition

Digitalization has rapidly changed the way we communicate, from traditional letters to the rise of completely digital channels. These days, enterprises’ communication can be totally automated.

  • The term “bot” (short for software robot) in its most basic form describes computer programs which automatically and repeatedly perform routine tasks without necessarily interacting with a human. They can for example be used in computer games to carry out repetitive tasks for a user or trawl the internet for content in the form of web crawlers. 
     
  • The term bot is also often used in connection with automated communication to describe computer programs that automatically interact with a human user through natural language input. This use of the term originates from an abbreviation and synonym for “chatbots”, which has become an umbrella term for all kinds of conversational systems.
     

Examples for communication via bots

  • Emails sent automatically after you’ve bought something online.
  • News articles with standardized content and wording .
  • Weather reports and sports news can be automatically generated from datapoints and then posted online, giving the impression that they were written by a human.
  • Applications that interact with human users in a chat environment.

Methodology

  • The research project was headed by Prof. Stefan Stieglitz and Florian Brachten  (University of Duisburg–Essen) from 2018 to 2020.
     
  • It is one of the first studies in Germany to provide insights into bots for communication experts. 
     
  • For the first time, the researchers analyzed millions of social media posts to find out whether social bots try to influence the social media comunication of the top 30 German corporations (DAX-30 stock index). 
     
  • Secondly, in-depth interviews with representatives of companies and consultancies were conducted to find out about the scenarios in which chatbots are already used.

 

Key Findings

  • Chatbots can help companies to save costs, improve the availability of their services, and reduce the workload of employees. This allows staff to devote more time to complex problems and to “quality” communication with customers, stakeholders and other employees.
  • There are several ways to develop and implement chatbots within an organization. They can be roughly broken down into in-house programming, external partners, external bot-building frameworks
  • There are different forms of manipulation by bots via social networks. The most used methods are the promotion of products, misuse of content and the damage on companies and brands
  • To prevent damage on the corporation, communication plays an important role. Companies should continuously monitor social media and be prepared for crisis communication

 

Downloads und further readings

Downloads:

Books:

  • Reeves & Nass (1996): The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media like Real People and Places.

  • Gentsch, P. (2019): AI in Marketing, Sales and Service. How Marketers without a Data Science Degree can use AI, Big Data and Bots.

Articles: 

  • Ross, B., Pilz, L., Cabrera, B., Brachten, F., Neubaum, G. & Stieglitz, S. (2019). Are social bots a real threat? An agent-based model of the spiral of silence to analyse the impact of manipulative actors in social networks. European Journal of Information System (EJIS), 28(4), pp. 394–412.
  • Bot or not? The facts about platform manipulation on Twitter. blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/bot-or-not.html.