Building Bots for Messenger – Tips from the Experts: Food Network

Food Network offers recipe ideas, cooking techniques, party tips and healthy eating advice from experts on all things food. People can watch chefs whip up delicious dishes on TV, browse recipes online, see one-of-a-kind food and recipe videos on Facebook, and chat with Food Network in Messenger to quickly get smart menu suggestions.

Food Network recently sat down with us to discuss their bot:

In 100 words or less, describe what your bot does.

We’re here to inspire people in the kitchen and help them find recipes from their favorite Food Network shows and chefs. Our goal is to help people create lasting memories with their friends and family.

A fast, friendly conversation in Messenger is a great way to find a recipe while you’re out and about (say, at the grocery store, or in line for coffee). And sharing recipes in chat can do wonders for the old “What do you want to eat?” / “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” cycle of weeknight meal planning.

Who are you trying to reach?

Anyone who likes to cook, loves to cook, or just needs to cook.


What’s your bot’s best feature?

We’re most excited about our curated “Surprise Me” feature—a kind of “Editor’s Pick” experience—which offers up daily recipes, menu ideas, food trivia, cooking tips, or how-to videos, depending on the holiday or season. A close second is the speed and ease of our recipe search, and its adaptability; meal planning with our bot is utilitarian and personal.


How did you design your bot?

We looked at what our customers do with our recipes, and what they want and need from them, according to what they’ve told us in surveys, focus groups, and usability studies (and even in-person field trips to the grocery store). Combining that with the right tech (Messenger, Rails, DynamoDB), the right content and data (our mobile app team’s APIs were an amazing bootstrap), and the right approach (design thinking workshops and prototyping with cross-functional teams) helped us being everything together.


What have you learned since launching? Any surprises or successes you want to share?

We’re delighted with how excited people get about it, and how engaged they become while using it. Some asked us for surprising things: to fix their cable, or to watch their audition tapes for the network, for example. As a result, we’re doing more to remind them that we’re a bot and send them to customer service.


What are you going to build next?

The recipe bot is pretty good at finding recipes (by emoji, for example) and offering up interesting ideas, but we’d like it to be even better at getting our customers inspired. More relevant suggestions and more serendipity is definitely in its future.

Why Messenger?

One of the great things about Messenger is how our customers are already using it to converse, share, and have an open give-and-take. The fact that they’re familiar with the platform and that there’s an existing relationship between Facebook and Food Network, there’s a lot of benefit there!

This series highlights the successes of businesses and developers who use the Messenger Platform in unique and interesting ways.

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