- KFC created a virtual Mother's Day experience for Facebook Messenger to help people celebrate the occasion while the COVID-19 pandemic keeps folks apart. Customers start the experience by visiting KFC's Facebook page to send loved ones an invitation to share a meal together, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- KFC's Facebook page is connected to a chatbot on Messenger that helps to personalize the invitation with family pictures, names of invitees, mealtimes and reminders of the virtual event. Up to eight people can participate in the video chats on Mother's Day and decorate their calls with digital stickers and effects.
- The chain is offering free delivery on orders of more than $20 through Grubhub and KFC's website, per the company.
KFC's campaign for Mother's Day combines several mobile features to help families connect online as health authorities urge people to stay isolated as much as possible. Warnings about social distancing are especially important for elderly parents who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, making Mother's Day another occasion to find other ways to celebrate, such as virtual events that KFC is promoting.
The pandemic has led to a surge in video calls on platforms like Zoom, pushing Facebook to expand its video chat features to host as many as 50 people at once. In areas hardest hit by the pandemic, the company experienced a 50% jump in messaging volume among Facebook's family of apps, while voice and video calling more than doubled for Messenger and WhatsApp, the social giant's leadership said in an conference call last week. KFC can participate in those conversations with its virtual Mother's Day dinners.
The KFC campaign also is a novel use for chatbots on Messenger, whose downloads rose 7.7% in March to 76.3 million worldwide, per Sensor Tower. While Facebook doesn't disclose the number of Messenger users, the app consistently ranks as one of the world's most downloaded. While Facebook had made chatbots a key part of its strategy for Messenger starting in 2016, the company this year revamped the app to focus on Stories and de-emphasize chatbots.
Chatbots have been disparaged for providing awkward conversations and limited functionality, though they are forecast to improve with continued investment and technology sophistication. About half (48%) of chatbot users access them through messaging platforms like Messenger, while 43% access the technology on websites, Juniper Research said in a recent report. As KFC's campaign for Mother's Day shows, marketers are still finding fresh ways to use chatbots for personalized customer experience applications that engage consumers and prolong their exposure to brand-safe interactions.