Injecting personality into technology: The writer's renaissance.

By Jess Thoms
@jessthoms

As brands move towards embracing conversational interfaces like chatbots, writers are facing a renaissance. The industry needs them to personalise interactions, and connect humans and computers more effectively.

“How do we want to interact with our technology thats more humane, more magical, more productive, more like the way we interact with each other?” 
- Chris Messina, The Presentable Podcast.

If talking to objects is becoming the norm, then technology needs to get on a human level.

I was recently interviewed by Digiday about what brands and publishers can learn from chatbots with rich personalities, and what the place of writers and comedians will be in designing this new era of conversational interfaces.

First and foremost, developing a bot is creating a character. The technology savvy can offer user experience and conversation mapping, but writers and comedians are after all — the masters of language.

Now writers have a place at the table in tech. For brands this presents an opportunity to engage users on a deeper, more personal level. Conversational experiences between brands and consumers need to be led by writers and designers, in order to turn conversations into conversions. For consumers to fully engage with a chatbot, the dialogue needs to be human, humorous and able to sustain attention. Engagement and retention means connection.

Brands can learn a lot from bots like Casper’s Insomnobot 3000, created by a mattress company not to sell you mattresses, but as a companion for when you can’t sleep. The bot is craving waffles at 2am, and can chat to you about Stranger Things. Moves like these signal a new era for marketing — personifying brands has never been more important. Using bots as stand-alone marketing campaigns will become the norm in the coming years, as big brands scramble to impress millennials and Gen Z consumers, and keep up with the expectations of digital natives who will expect, and demand to interact with brands this way. Brand stories, are after all, stories.

Brand stories can now be distilled into a digital experience, delivered in a conversation with an artificial personality designed to engage a specific target audience.

While this presents an enormous opportunity for wordsmiths to expand their horizons and career possibilities — tech also needs to embrace them. How do we lure writers into an industry they’ve never encountered, and what streams of education have the most relevance? Marketers can tell brand stories, creative writers craft narratives, and copywriters know how to make an impact with limited space. Conversation designers need to be a hybrid of all three.

At Xandra Labs we describe our perfect team as creative technologists, geeky writers, outlandish designers, and data scientists who think like poets. These skill sets are diverse, random, yet complementing. Writers, comedians, and actors will help propel conversational experiences into a magical period where technology adapts to people, and bots truly become friends.

The value of your Liberal Arts degree just went up.

This article was originally published on Medium.