Facebook has been putting a lot of effort into growing Messenger as a bot platform this year, and now there are 34,000 of these bots in existence, built to present you with news and entertainment, let you shop, and more — expanding Messenger’s use beyond simple chats with friends. Today, that strategy is getting a significant boost: Facebook says it will now let developers track bots on its free analytics platform, alongside ads and apps. At the same time, Facebook is also opening up its developer program, FbStart, to bot developers.
Both potentially give bot makers more reasons to build and monitor how their new widgets are working.
Josh Twist, a product manager for Facebook Messenger’s bot efforts, who is an Englishman based in Seattle but is in London today to debut the tools at a developer event, tells me that Facebook expanded the analytics and FbStart tools after a lot of requests from the developers.
“Getting bot support for messenger is the most frequently requested feature from bot developers,” he said. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: Facebook already provided these kinds of tools to other developers on its platform, and bots have seen a massive surge of interest since they first made their debut earlier this year. That interest has not just come from users curious about how they work; developers are also very keen to see if bots really are the next big thing.
Twist tells me that for now, the analytics will cover bots built just for Messenger.