As the community industry grapples with the future of AI, it's important to remember that AI is not a replacement for human relationships. In fact, the human touch is more important than ever in the age of AI.
But that doesn't mean AI can't be a valuable tool for community managers. By automating tasks and providing insights, AI can help community professionals do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
So, how can you bring AI into your community strategy thoughtfully and ethically? Here are nine tips for integrating AI into your community strategy:
We've touched on this, and it's a concern echoed by many community pros—the hesitation to embrace AI due to the inherently human nature of communities.
After all, authenticity and connection are at the heart of any thriving community. Yet, as AI becomes more widespread, communities are gaining more significance, providing a “safe space” from the increasingly salesy, biased, and artificially generated content around them.
So, the first step is to ask yourself: Does my community need or benefit from AI? And if so, how can I integrate it thoughtfully?
Brian Oblinger has a great framework for thinking about this. He argues that the use of AI, especially in content creation, depends on three key factors:
For example, in a customer support community, where time is critical, community members might not be as concerned about AI use if their issues are resolved quickly. However, AI is probably unwelcome in some communities, such as those that are connection-oriented.
We highly encourage you to check out Brian's slides on the future of online communities in an AI-driven world.
Community managers do a lot more than just answer threads and drive discussions. We also have to deal with a lot of administrative tasks on a daily basis. This is where AI can be a huge help.
By automating routine tasks with AI, we can free up our time to focus on more important things, like building relationships with members and creating engaging content.
Here are a few examples of how you can use AI to automate routine tasks in your community:
I know this is a controversial take, especially given our emphasis on human connection. But hear me out.
If your community is getting a lot of new members every day (which, first of all, congratulations 😉), you're likely spending a lot of time onboarding them. One way to save time is to set up automated workflows that are triggered when someone new joins your community.
Here's an example: Imagine Lila has just been accepted into your community. Instantly, an automated, but personalized message, using your profile, is sent to Lila. You are addressing them by their name, guiding them throughout the community, while sharing the relevant channels and resources they might use. Most importantly, you retain control over communication. If Lila responds, their message comes directly to you, enabling you to reply personally.
And it can also be used for other repetitive processes, such as sending 90-day check-in messages. Just a quick note, though – use this sparingly; too much automation can dilute the personal touch.
Now, I understand that this is a more controversial take, but in larger communities, such as customer support communities for software used by millions of people daily, it might be a good idea to consider using an AI-powered chatbot to greet new members, answer their questions, and help them find their way around the community.
This is especially useful if your community is at this scale, as there is a big chance of a large time difference and high demand, so getting in touch with new members instantly may be challenging. Additionally, if new members join the community solely to ask customer support questions, your AI chatbot can guide them to the appropriate existing thread for the answer.
Another great use case for AI in community management is sentiment monitoring. AI can be used to identify members of your community who have disengaged or to monitor the overall sentiment of your community. This can help you to identify and address potential problems early on and to ensure that your community remains positive and engaged.
For example, at CMX, we use Common Room to monitor our community sentiment. We have identified a couple of keywords that trigger a message in our internal channel whenever they are used. This allows us to quickly identify and respond to any concerns or questions from our community members.
Definitely, incorporating AI into your content creation is far from a no-brainer.
We're all looking for ways to save time and be more efficient, and AI can be a great help with content creation. But (!!!!) before you let AI write your entire blog post for you, be cautious: to a trained eye, it's pretty easy to tell what content is AI-generated.
And if you're not just worried about the trained eye, but also about securing your community's blog a prime spot in search engine results pages (SERPs), then you need to be even more cautious. Google is constantly updating its algorithms to identify and penalize AI-generated content.
However, you don't have to stay away from AI in your content strategy, though. AI can be used for more than just writing content. Here are a few examples:
Sometimes, the best ideas are right in front of us. By using AI to analyze your community's discussions, you can pinpoint the content that your community wants to see.
Here's how it works:
One of my favorite writing hacks is to have AI act as my editor whenever I need a second opinion or some constructive feedback before hitting the publish button.
Of course, AI still lacks the human touch and judgment that we, humans, possess. So, never blindly approve AI-generated content without a thorough review. Double-check the facts, refine vague paragraphs, ensure consistency, and eliminate those filler words that AI tends to sprinkle in.
But here's the thing: AI excels at grammar, spelling, and readability. And that's where it shines. It can quickly and accurately identify those errors that might slip past our eyes. Take Grammarly. This app only saves us a ton of time and effort, allowing us to focus on the other tasks.
Plus, AI can serve as a valuable learning tool. By analyzing its feedback, we can identify areas for improvement and enhance our writing skills over time.
If your community hosts a lot of events, workshops, or masterclasses, you're sitting on a goldmine of content. All those webinars and discussions are packed with valuable insights and expertise that you already know that your community enjoys.
The natural next step is to transform this content into smaller, more bite-sized pieces – and that's precisely what we do. But before AI, this involved hours of tedious transcribing and cleaning up the footage from recorded events.
Now, with AI tools like Otter.ai in our hands, AI can seamlessly handle the transcription and clean-up, freeing up our time to focus on the creative aspect of repurposing content into blog posts, insightful emails, and engaging social media posts.
And don't forget that this applies to more than just event content. Consider research papers, case studies, and discussions too. The possibilities are truly limitless!
Community health surveys are a staple for understanding member sentiment, spotting trends, and gauging the well-being of your community. While they provide valuable insights, sometimes you need more real-time information. Here's where you can use AI.
Imagine having a live dashboard that serves as your community's command center, providing you with a bird's-eye view of member engagement, satisfaction levels, and potential issues. With AI-powered analytics, you can quickly identify and address concerns before they escalate, ensuring that your community remains a healthy space for all.
Here are just a few ways you can take advantage of AI to improve your community management strategies by analyzing data:
By leveraging AI for a deeper understanding of your community data, you can gain a comprehensive perspective on your community's dynamics, enabling you to make data-driven decisions that result in an engaged community.
A few weeks ago, we partnered with KOBIE.AI to introduce a bit of AI to the CMX Community with our AI community assistant, Nina. Nina has been trained on a comprehensive library of CMX knowledge, including our blog posts, downloadable guides, and reports. This is our first step into the world of AI, and we encourage you to test Nina out and let us know what you think!
The launch of Nina sparked a discussion in our community, and we hosted a special event about AI where we explored the potential pitfalls and opportunities that AI might bring. You can check out a recording of our event below!
While we understand the reservations that some community managers may have about incorporating AI into their strategies, we believe that AI can be a powerful tool when used thoughtfully. We encourage you to join the conversation on our Facebook Group or Slack channel to share your thoughts, tips, and experiences with AI in community management.