Bangladeshi daily hones mobile service with a bot

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Dhaka, Bangladesh, based Daily Star has launched a Facebook Messenger bot to provide a better news service to smartphone users.

And marketing head Tajdin Hassan says a user base of 1000 subscribers has grown organically since the service launched in February.

The English-language daily's inhouse digital team wanted to expand and unlock possibilities around its Facebook page, which has more than 2.5 million followers. "More than 30 per cent of our website traffic is coming from social media, so the Messenger bot definitely has the potential to create a new audience and deeper reader engagement," he says.

Bot users receive daily morning updates based on preferences, and can easily explore more stories. And the Daily Star team already has updates planned to add more functions.

Tajdin says Bangladeshi consumers are worldwide change: "Bangladesh has the highest 2G coverage rate among emerging economies, and the 3G network is also popular in the country, of which a total of 15-25 million individuals are mobile internet users. By the end of February, the total number of internet subscribers had reached an astounding 67.2 million."

Bangladesh - the eighth-largest country in the world - has a median age of 25.4, right in the middle of the 18-34 years demographic that accounts for 70 per cent of Facebook users, so the bot is well placed.

Tajdin says it is currently a simple tool that gives users a daily update in the morning, and where users can ask for news using keywords or the inbuilt menu. "Based on the interaction with the readers, we will add features in the future," he says in an INMA post.

"Users can swipe to see five news items and go beyond the breaking news by opting to read more stories. Already some of the most popular search items have been tagged with the technology. In the future, we are planning to utilise the bot for publishing secondary and higher school results, or even for recruitment results.

"However, the future looks to be more interesting than that, as the team is looking to upgrade the bot and increase its functionality.

"English is the second language in Bangladesh, so the Daily Star also wants to cater to the needs of users who prefer news in the native Bengali language. The simple user interaction script of the bot also is being developed to create a more sophisticated and conversational tone.

"This is going to take the experience to another level and be a true example of conversational journalism. By providing the bot service and other digital ventures, we're planning to stay one step ahead in the game and create a remarkable online presence that caters to the needs of the readers."

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