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Complex content and chatbots: the BBC is experimenting

Sometimes, you wonder how deep you should go on a given topic. What if people could choose how deep they want to go?

On a recent Content Decoded masterclass, Benoit Giguère (who was key in the design and content architecture of LaPresse+) told us about the importance of entry points in content.

Entry points that cater to each user’s desire in the details he or she wants for a given topic. An initial entry point might just touch the surface on a topic, while another will do a deep-dive into context, history and the like. Both for the same topic matter or article.

The BBC has been testing this reality with the use of in-article chatbots.

Yup, you read that right, chatbots smack in the middle of the content.

The model allows users to ask questions on the topic they are reading (selected from a list of 3 suggested questions for example), having the chatbot respond by giving an answer and more details on the topic.

What this does is that it allows someone who is familiar with the context of the theme being treated to skim right through and get the latest information, but also allows someone who might want more historical details (for example) to get it without leaving the page.

I am a big fan of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, which studies media (both traditional and newer digital media properties). I believe that as brand marketers and audience builders, we have a lot to learn from the media, who have been telling stories for so long.

This is the reason I believe you might be interested in one of their articles, that details how the BBC has been building a chatbot framework for their content, and make us, on the brand side, think about how we can leverage this knowledge to make better content for our own audiences.

You will also find multiple links to BBC content that has a chatbot embedded, in the Nieman article, a really interesting approach.

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