Bots for Business
A Guide to Building Bots for Kik Messenger
If you build chatbots that target teens and young adults, Kik Messenger could be your go-to channel. A popular messaging app with broad adoption among Generation Z, Kik is a bot-friendly platform that integrates with several chatbot frameworks. Explore what’s involved in building a bot for Kik.
July 2, 2019
The chatbot scene on the Kik Messenger app (or Kik), leans heavily toward entertainment. With an audience composed primarily of teenagers and young adults, the substance, content, and overall vibe of Kik skews younger than many platforms. So, if you’re building a bot that targets a younger demographic, this platform might be just the place to deploy it.
Let’s take a look at what Kik has to offer. We consider the why behind Kik bots and explore what’s involved in getting your bot in front of Kik users.
Why build a Kik bot?
Are you trying to reach teens and college-aged users? Around 70 percent of Kik’s 300 million users are between the ages of 13 and 24. Shareable quizzes, fashion and pop culture info, social games, and teen-centered news are well represented in the apps and bots available on Kik. Needless to say, if you’re building a bot that fits into any of those categories, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more relevant messaging app.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t deploy a more grown-up chatbot to Kik. As a former Kik executive notes, many Kik users started using the app in high school and continued using it after they entered college or joined the workforce. The app appears to have staying power. And, since today’s college-goers are tomorrow’s insurance-buying, mortgage-shopping, wedding-planning grownups, Kik may soon become a hub for some serious adulting.
Unlike some messaging apps, Kik actively and enthusiastically courts bot creators of all skill levels and from all types of brands. The organization has even published several tutorials for building Kik bots, sharing your bot with Kik users, and applying special features to your bot. The app’s APIs are also well documented in Kik’s developer documentation.
How to make a Kik bot
Begin with Kik’s Getting Started guide to learn how Kik bots work, the types of messages your bot can send, suggestions for hosting your bot, and how to submit your bot to Kik.
You can build a Kik bot using official Kik SDKs for Python or Node.js. These help you build a functional bot that works well in Kik, but you may be best served by a third-party framework or authoring tool. That way, you can build a bot for Kik and other apps.
Regardless of the tool you use to actually make your Kik bot—and we explore a few of them here—you need to specify a webhook where Kik can send messages. Via the webhook, those messages are parsed and fed through whatever logic or AI you’ve created for your bot.
So, which framework should you use for developing your Kik bot? There are several that integrate nicely with Kik, including Amazon Lex and Dialogflow.
How to integrate your bot with Kik Messenger
One of the bot-building frameworks equipped with Kik Messenger integration is Amazon Lex. Not surprisingly, the first step is to build your bot on Amazon Lex. The actual bot creation, of course, takes place within the framework. Your Amazon Lex bot will interface with Kik via an API, but all of the development occurs on the Amazon Lex end.
When your bot is ready, the next step is to create a Kik bot. That might sound counterintuitive, but creating a bot on Kik just means that you’re telling Kik you want to put a bot on its platform. The process involves signing up for a Kik account, following some prompts, and copying the API key.
After the basic setup, the actual integration takes place:
- In the Channels tab in your Amazon Lex console, locate Kik.
- Provide the required information, including a bot name and description, alias, user name, API key, user greeting, error message, and group chat behavior (enabled or disabled).
- Click Activate to associate your Amazon Lex bot with Kik.
- Test the integration by selecting your bot in Kik and chatting with it.
Other frameworks offering seamless Kik integration are Dialogflow, which is Google’s suite of bot-building tools, and Microsoft Bot Framework. The process for integrating your bot is similar. You build your bot in the framework, create an account in Kik, and verify some credentials. After that, your bot is live! Test it out, and then let the world know it’s there.
Speaking of broadcasting your bot’s existence, an excellent way to do that is to deploy your bot to a dedicated domain. You can do this even if you also deploy your bot to Kik, Facebook Messenger, or another messaging app. Bot-centric top-level domains, like .BOT, give your users a place to find and use your bot, even if they’re no longer using Kik.
Kik Messenger bot examples
Most chatbots on Kik target a young demographic. As such, there are lots of bots that exist just to entertain or inform users about the latest news in fashion or the celebrity world. Let’s have a look at some popular Kik bots.
Users interested in auto-generating lighthearted memes about their friends (or just themselves) can engage BeLikeBot. To get started, you type in your friend’s name, and the bot creates a goofy meme about that person. Then you can share the meme with others—including the person you’re roasting, of course.
Gary the Game Bot is another bot that users can activate for fun and games. Gary plays Truth or Dare, Hangman, Tic Tac Toe, Trivia, and Connect4. You can play solo or with friends.
Beauty & Fashion chatbots
Sephora is one beauty brand that leverages Kik to boost online sales. Sephora’s Kik bot asks users questions about their makeup preferences, builds a profile based on the information, and recommends products they might like. The bot also points users to makeup-related video and picture tutorials.
Celebstyle is another fashion-centric Kik bot that shows you what A-list celebrities are wearing and provides insider tips to help you achieve a similar look. The bot also sends notifications to keep you up to date on the new styles that certain celebrities are adopting, so you always know the latest fashion trends.
For users who love to read, the Epic Reads bot is an excellent tool for suggesting new reading material. Users tell the bot the type of material they enjoy reading. Based on those inputs, the bot suggests similar books that the user might enjoy.
With Epic Reads, there are different ways to get recommendations. You can enter the name of an author, indicate your mood (so that the bot can suggest a book in keeping with how you feel), or just request recommendations from the Epic Reads blog.
Getting started with Kik bots
Kik developer documentation, including the API reference material, is a good place to familiarize yourself with Kik’s technical side. If you still haven’t chosen a chatbot framework but know that you want to deploy your bot to Kik, consider using Amazon Lex, Dialogflow, or the Microsoft Bot Framework since those frameworks make it easy to integrate your bot with the app.
In the end, if your chatbot appeals to teens and young adults, Kik is a great place to deploy it. And, if you’re planning ahead for when Generation Z outgrows BeLikeBot and starts buying car insurance, the platform could become even more relevant.