Bots for Business

A Guide to Building Bots for Viber

As one of the world’s most popular messaging apps, Viber has a lot to offer bot developers. Build a Viber bot using the app’s official libraries, or integrate a bot built on another framework. This guide shows you why you should build a Viber Messenger chatbot, what’s involved, and how to get started.

July 9, 2019
viber messenger app and tools to build a chatbot

Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Viber is one of the world’s most widely used messaging applications. With approximately 260 million monthly active Viber users worldwide, many big brands are leveraging the platform to engage new and existing customers. And they’re using chatbots to do it.

What makes Viber unique, and what does it offer chatbot creators? Why should you build a Viber bot when other messaging channels may have more potential users and greater global market penetration? Let’s consider these questions and others, as we explore the world of Viber chatbots.

Why build a Viber bot?

Although WhatsApp is the dominant messaging platform in much of the world, deploying your bot there takes more time due to its application process. If you’re looking for a messaging application that’s popular in many of the same markets as WhatsApp but doesn’t require the same waiting period for approval, consider building a Viber bot.

Viber is particularly popular in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. If you’re targeting users in those markets, it might make sense to get your bot on Viber even if you’ve also published it to other platforms.

Another reason to build a bot for Viber is security—one of Viber’s biggest selling points for users. But there are benefits to bot creators, as well. All chats and calls are fully encrypted, so Viber can’t see what users are talking about or sell any of your data. For bot builders, this culture of trust gives your users assurance that their conversations with your bot remain private.

On the developer side, potential incentives to build a Viber bot include its extensive developer tools and open source contributions. That’s right—Viber messaging app libraries are open source. There are also APIs for Node.js, Python, and REST that can accelerate development.

How to make a Viber bot

The first step is to create a public account on Viber. Think of a public account as your brand’s channel on Viber. There are lots of ways to connect with users through your public account, and bots are one of them. After that, you have two choices—develop your bot through one of Viber’s libraries, or
create a bot on a third-party framework.

If you’re going to build a Viber-specific bot through one of the libraries, configure your bot according to the documentation. You then add the bot as middleware and start your web server. Use your web server URL to call your webhook.

Although you can build a functional Viber bot using a Node.js, Python, or REST library, a third-party framework gives you additional flexibility. For starters, you can build a bot using one set of tools and deploy it around the web—not just to Viber. You can even house your bot in a bot-focused top-level domain, like .BOT. That way, users (and your bot) aren’t bound to the whims of the messaging app. The bot can always live at the dedicated domain!

Another benefit of using a chatbot framework is natural language processing (NLP). Frameworks like Amazon Lex, Dialogflow, and IBM Watson Assistant are equipped with sophisticated tools for parsing user inputs and returning valuable information, just like a human would. You can build your bot on a framework, utilize the NLP engine, and integrate your bot with Viber.

How to integrate your bot with Viber Messenger

If you’re planning to build your bot with a dedicated framework, consider using one that integrates with Viber. Although you can use any framework you want, some make it easier than others to deploy to Viber.

Here’s how Viber integration works with Dialogflow, the Google chatbot framework:

  1. Create your public account in Viber, and retrieve the Viber App Key.
  2. In Dialogflow, find Viber in the Integrations area.
  3. Enter the Viber App Key, the bot’s name, and the URL to your bot’s avatar (every bot has one).
  4. Click Start to make your bot live. At this point, you can test your bot and then start telling the world about it.

Another framework that integrates with Viber is Gupshup, and the process is similar:

  1. Create your public account in Viber, and retrieve the Viber App Key.
  2. In Gupshup, find Viber in the Channels area.
  3. Click Publish to add your App Key and a few other details.

Viber messenger bot examples

Research shows that 30 percent of Viber users send stickers every day. When that’s the case with your messaging app, you know your audience likes being entertained. Not surprisingly, most bots on Viber are consumer-oriented, social, and fun. After all, people use Viber to exchange messages, play games, share photos and videos, and send stickers. The bots found on this channel cater to those social habits—and enhance them.

Informational chatbots

Glamour Russia is one established brand that’s leveraging Viber bots to engage its readership. Its chatbot updates users with messages and content of likely interest.

Tech Talk is another Viber chatbot that directs users to valuable articles. Type the word mobile, and the bot returns a carousel of the latest articles about mobile technologies.

Travel chatbots

The next time you find yourself in a new city and aren’t sure where to go for lunch, you might want to chat with Mica, the Hipster Cat. Simply tell Mica your location, and she directs you to nearby restaurants that suit your preferences.

Air travel, too, can be smoother with Viber bots. App in the Air fields requests about flight status and can tell you which gate your plane leaves from. The bot can even notify you about changes in your flight, if you want it to.

Entertainment chatbots

Although there are many chatbots on Viber that engage users with personality quizzes, celebrity news updates, and sports happenings, one that might catch your eye is the FC Barcelona bot.

The FC Barcelona bot allows soccer fans to stay on top of the latest news and other club related insights. Fans can also participate in the Man of the Match competitions for a chance to win prizes such as jerseys, signed soccer balls, or even a VIP trip to the team's home stadium. And if you're a die-hard fan, the bot lets you pretend to be an FC Barcelona player by having you sign a sample contract, answer press questions, and take virtual tours of players' dressing rooms.

Getting started with Viber bots

The best place to start is the Viber developer documentation, which focuses on the libraries for Node.js, Python, and REST. Even if you’re building your bot with a separate framework, exploring the documents can give you a good idea of what’s involved in building a Viber bot.

After that, create a public account and publish your bot! If you’re using a framework that integrates with Viber, the “process” is hardly a process at all.