Update: As of May 2020, MeditateBot has reached and helped over 1.5 million people around the world.
Over the past few years, Facebook Messenger has become the go to place for over a billion people worldwide to engage in their daily conversations. Though over the past year, it’s also quickly become the place where these same people are getting their daily news, weather updates, booking travel, style advice and much more.
This phenomenon began back in April 2016 when Facebook opened up their API for developers to create chatbots — programs to simulate human conversation. The rise of chatbots are giving brands an entirely new way to communicate with their audience at scale, a way that is so innately human…through conversation.
New Habits are Hard
When launching a new technology product, one of the biggest challenges is getting people to use it daily. New apps struggle with this often. Think about all of the times you’ve downloaded an app, used it once or twice, then deleted it or never opened it again. It’s hard to create that stickiness that keeps people coming back.
This same issue product makers face with getting people to use their apps daily, we all face in our lives with trying to create a new positive habit.
Want to start working out? Ok, you go to the gym three days straight, then something comes up and you can’t make it, then again you miss it. A few weeks later the thought of going to the gym is so far in the back of your mind it never resurfaces.
In my opinion, the key to forming and sustaining any new habit is two fold:
As I thought through this with one of my own habit struggles, meditating daily, I decided to test the forming of a new habit by leveraging the power of Facebook Messenger — a place which already had my eyeballs as it was quickly becoming part of my morning routine for news, weather, etc.
The end result of a weekend personal hack-a-thon was MeditateBot — a Messenger chatbot that teaches the benefits of meditation, surfaces a variety of meditations, and even lets you schedule a daily reminder — all for free within Facebook Messenger.
I’m extremely happy to say that after 4 weeks since launch I have successfully meditated daily using MeditateBot. And more importantly, so have over 25,000 other people :)
Here’s how I made it habit forming enough for me keep it up a daily practice for 4 weeks and counting…
Schedule a Daily Reminder
This feature is the linchpin to the entire experience. By asking what time works best for people and sending them a reminder daily at that time, they are empowered to make meditation work for their schedule. At the scheduled time, a simple push notification is sent that gently nudges them to kick off their daily meditation.
I personally check Messenger in the morning while I’m eating my breakfast, so I schedule my daily practice reminder at 8:00am every day. It fits nicely into my routine and I know I’m not distracted at that time.
Analyzing the data of scheduling on MeditateBot, it was insightful to see that user’s reminders were almost perfectly distributed across all times throughout the day — morning, afternoon, and evening. This proves that everyone has their own “best” time. Make it work for you!
Showcasing the Benefits
Some people needed a little backing as to why daily meditation would be good for them, especially those that may have just stumbled across MeditateBot after it was featured in Messenger (grateful for that!)
Succinctly explaining the benefits of meditation, then having a CTA (call to action) immediately after to meditate has resulted in a >70% conversion to completing a meditation. Priming with benefits is important for driving action.
Having Options, But Not Too Many
Too many options is too much, make it simple and don’t let the mind wander when the attention is already there. I’ve seen too many apps that have an endless amounts of options, this makes it hard to select the “right” one — which causes frustration (not a good primer for meditation!).
For MeditateBot I’ve kept the categories high level and made sure all speak for themselves. No explanation required for the three types:
Another important option in building a new habit is to not bite off more than you can chew. If you’re forcing yourself to do a 20 minute meditation daily out the gate, you will get frustrated.
Why is my mind wandering? Is it over yet? Am I doing this right?
Having the option to choose a length that your willing to devote, keeps the barrier to entry low. Even getting 1 minute of that meditative state is shown to bring a heap of benefits.