2016 has got to be known as the year of the chatbot. With a brief couple of weeks for Pokemon Go of course (I literally said to my son one day, “don’t cross the street playing Pokemon.”). There’s Kik with 300 million users and Facebook Messenger announcing 11,000 bots already and Botlist.co being a very useful place for finding tons of bots by category. Of course, Product Hunt is also a great discovery tool for the latest and hippest chatbots.

But discovery and implementation of bots is still fairly difficult and really in its infancy. Finding the best bot for you can definitely be a challenge. And because it’s so early, that bot you’re looking for may not have been built yet, btw.

So, since Freelanzr is dedicated to building a richer life for freelancers, we’re going to review and recommend chatbots that help make life better for us all. And since, as freelancers, we really value our playtime we will also review more than just productivity bots here too.

So to kick this off. The top 5 chatbots to get you started loving chatbots:

  1. CNN – One of the first to be integrated into Mark Zuckerberg’s vision (a vision cloned from WeChat) of a thriving Facebook Messinger Chatbot ecosystem. CNN bot, a FB Messinger only news portal, reduces friction and adds value in two clear ways. One, type in any news related keyword, “Zika, Presidential, Pokemon” and get headline results. No more sifting through those messy Google results. Second, each morning you will get the top stories delivered to your Facebook account: easily getting the top news delivered in bed or on the commode.
  2. Jarvis – A terrific example of a very simple design that adds value to our daily tasks. Just tell Jarvis (only on Facebook Messinger for now) what to remind you of: e.g. “stop working today at 3:45, meet Paul at noon at Chevys, do my taxes on April 14th,” and it will remind you. Hopefully, there will be additional easy to use functionality added here before the service gets “cloned” by Facebook and goes away without a reminder.
  3. PennyCat – If you are a deal hunter like me but hate the user experience on the web, PennyCat is purrrrfect. Again, only available on Facebook Messinger for now just let the cat know where you want a discount and it goes and finds it for you. From as broad as “furniture” to as narrow as “Ikea, Dafred Bar Stool” and get coupons and deals sent to your chat window.
  4. Sephora – The makeup juggernaut just seems to do everything the right way digitally (and probably brick and mortar too but I’ve never been in one). Their Chatbot on Kik is no exception. Sephora created a personal shopping assistant that delivers advice, product reviews, tips, videos, and insider advice. The bot’s persona (yes, that’s a thing) seems to share the same exuberance about makeup as most millennials. And just wait for their FB Chatbot that helps you find the right shade of lipstick.
  5. Assist (Link here is to Botlist.co, btw) – Available on Slack, Messinger, Telegram, and by text we are highlighting it since it’s created by the same group who did the 1800-Flowers bot and is a first to aggregate different services in an easy to use way. Just type in your zip code and choose from 1-9 “menu” options of what you would like to do like: get a ride, food delivery, reservations, send flowers, event ticket, book hotels, send a letter, etc. This is a very seamless approach to handling many of the things we need (or in my case, forgot that I need) to do.
  6. Bonus: Lawyer Bot – This is the most buzzworthy bot currently in the ecosystem. Allegedly built by a 19-year-old, the Chatbot has overturned 160,000 tickets in London and NYC saving customers over $3Million. Huge attaboys for figuring out monetization for the bot too which “gets paid” 25% of the money it saves you reaching around a million dollars in revenue so far.

The Bot-tom line:

We’re all in on chatbots here at Freelanzr. Especially since it can be lonely sometimes working from home on your own. The digital associate and helper can really be a great tool to help us collaborate, share tasks, or just have some fun via Messinger, Slack, Skype, or whatever else we use to chat online.

We would love to know if you’re using chatbots, what you think, what’s your favorite, and what you want to make our online lives the most productive and fun. Please give us your feedback here or on our Facebook page.

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