Other than spending 15 minutes setting up Crowdfire for the first time, I have never knowingly chatted to a robot. That’s why I joined in with this week’s Buffer Chat. People from all over the world with different job titles and levels of experience join in and share their knowledge, and wow did I learn a lot, even realising I’ve been talking to bots for way longer than I originally thought. Here’s a summary of last night’s conversation.

Q1: What are chat bots and how do they work?

A chatbot is basically what it says in the name… A robot that chats to you! There are two different types of chat bots, rule-based chatbots that can respond to specific commands and artificial intelligence chatbots that respond to natural language. A rule-based chatbot is programmed to respond to pre-set rules or commands, for example texting ‘DONATE’ to a charity donation line. The chatbot is set up to recognise the word DONATE and perform a specific action in return, for example sending back a thank you text. An artificial intelligence chatbot on the other hand is one like Facebook Messenger, where it can understand human language and notice different ways in which a human’s may communicate the same thing. For our Facebook example, the bot can then give suggested replies or answers depending on the content of your conversation, or even help you to buy tickets for movies and flights. Here’s some Twitter Users answers to Q1!

Q2: Where might you find chat bots in action? What platforms do they live on?

When this question popped up I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d seen Chatbots apart from Facebook Messenger and Crowdfire. However, looking at the answers to Q2 it seems like they are everywhere! Maybe they are going to take over the world? Here’s some Twitter Users to Q2!


Q3 - What are some examples of what a chat bot can help with? What are some of their purposes?

From my experience, chatbots are used to help you set up accounts, for example something like Crowdfire, or for answering general queries, for example chatbots on bank websites. However it seems that chatbots are expanding even more using artificial intelligence to the point where on Facebook Messenger for example they can scan the content of your conversations and give you a list of suggested replies! Here are some Twitter users opinions.


Q4 - What tools/platforms are out there to help build a chat bot?

I literally had no clue about the answer to this question until I logged onto the #BufferChat! I thought only super clever people with a great knowledge of coding could create chatbots! However, it seems there is some great software and applications out there that can help you create a chatbot.


Q5 - Have you come across any great chat bots? If so, tell us more about them!

A couple of years ago, I hopped onto the RSPCA website because there was a wild fox chilling in my back garden all day, which is strange in the UK as you don’t really see foxes during the day and if you do they just run and hide. I went onto the website to look for advice (as I have two cats and that could have ended badly!) and ended up in a nice half an hour or so longer conversation with a chatbot about the fox spending his day in my garden. I don’t think it was overly helpful as the fox wasn’t injured or in danger, however the chatbot asked all the necessary questions and gave lengthy answers and advice to me, so I think this is a great chat bot and could be really helpful if someone was concerned about an animal!

A personal favourite HAS to be Dominos bot ‘Dom’ that tells me when my pizza is in prep, baking, quality check and last but definitely not least… when my pizza is on itsHeading 3 way to my house! What isn’t amazing about that? Who doesn’t want to know when their pizza is minutes away?

 Let’s see what other users think!


Q6 - In your opinion, are chat bots a fleeting trend or the future of communication? Or something in between?

I personally think Chatbots could be great for the future of online communication, but only in certain sectors. I think chatbots are great to help with setting up accounts, answering questions and sending out automated replies. I think there could really be a space for them in sectors such as banking where there’s often a long wait on hold to just ask one question! Chatbots would be great for helping people sort these issues out quickly without the waiting time. However, we’ve got to be careful that Chatbots don’t take over the world – real people exist too!


Q7 - Where can you discover cool chat bots and/or more resources about them?

I think chatbots could potentially start popping up everywhere on the Internet. We’ve already seen a huge growth in the use of chatbots and what they are being used for, when will it end? Will it ever end?

Let’s here your thoughts! Leave us a comment with cool resources you’ve found about chatbots – where to find them, how to use them, how to create them.

Anyone can join in with a #Bufferchat no matter where you are or who you are. Just join in at the times specified on their website (click here) using the #Bufferchat and answer the questions they post on their page.

A big thanks to Buffer and all the users who joined in with the #BufferChat. It was great learning with you!

Tweet: #Bufferchat Chatbots - Crazy or Brilliant? Via @ByThisRiver https://ctt.ec/71029+