A new publishing channel for the BBC

In order to connect with a younger, more diverse audience seeking out information on the impact of the European Referendum result, the BBC created a Messenger bot that allowed consumers to learn more about Brexit, test their knowledge and stay informed of breaking news and alerts.

You take a 500-word news article and think: If I saw this in the form of a series of message alerts, what would I want to see and what would I leave out? That’s a different way of thinking about journalism.

Mark FrankelSocial Media Editor, BBC News

With over 43% of millennials primarily getting news on their smartphones and the impact of Brexit high on the cultural agenda, the BBC wanted a mobile first way of connecting with younger consumers seeking out information on Brexit and the general UK political landscape.

The bot needed to provide useful information on the status of Brexit, educate consumers in fun and engaging ways and keep users informed with breaking alerts.


Originally intended to focus solely on Brexit and the process surrounding the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union, the bot allowed users to “get the facts” on key topics, see how different regions voted, test their EU knowledge, answer common questions, understand the withdrawal process, and stay informed of future Brexit updates and decisions.

After a successful trial period and with a snap-election looming, the bot then expanded to include coverage from the general election, fact checkers, breaking news alerts, analysis and opinion, general explainers and mobile story formats related to the British political news cycle.

A mix of editorial is being run through it, from video explainers to graphics as well as links through to stories on the BBC website.


The Results

people sent election night updates
enabled alerts
the BBC with a younger audience
updates read within 1 minute
CTR on news articles
Best Messenger Bot, Digiday Awards

How they did it

Step 1: Design the first phase of the bot
Together with The Bot Platform, the BBC team had a 4 hour workshop to plan the rough outline and feature set of the initial bot.

Step 2: Launch the bot to the world
Once the bot had been built using The Bot Platform and all the content was in place, the BBC launched the bot to the world by communicating with their audiences on other platforms that they were now on Messenger. The BBC launched the bot by simply posting links to it in relevant places, as well as discussing it on their live broadcasts.

Step 3: Monitor how people use the bot
Once people started communicating with the bot and engaging with the content the BBC were able to see how exactly people wanted to use the bot, and what content was resonating best, thanks to our bot analytics package. The system analyses the most popular questions to make sure the bulk of the questions received responses.

Step 4: Refine and improve experience over time
We believe bots on Messenger are so new, that no bot will be perfect on the day of launch. The beauty of The Bot Platform is that the BBC were able to improve and refine the experience quickly and easily over time as more data is analysed.

Want to learn more?

Let's talk about how your business or organization can benefit from bots and automation on Messenger.

Get in touch today!