Moderator KiKi L'Italien and community manager Melanie Binder
Moderator KiKi L'Italien and community manager Melanie Binder.

Community managers should leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize content for their communities and foster relevant and engaging dialogue.

That point was hammered home by Amith Nagarajan, CEO of Aptify, who spoke yesterday during webinar in honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day.

Nagarajan, whose company provides enterprise software to membership organizations, was one of the interviewees in a livestream featuring discussions on the state of community management.

Personalized Content

Amith Nagarajan
Amith Nagarajan

"Typical community member have to find their own content and information they're interested in," Nagarajan said in an interview with KiKi L'Italien, digital strategist. "It's presented in chronological order and users have to search what interests them. Those days are over."

AI disrupts those tactics. As CMSWire contributor Jonathan Moran wrote in an article on AI, it changes the workplace through:

  1. Data: Machines gather data through model input and subsequent output scoring; customer history and session data across traditional and digital channels; and purchased or third-party data that is fed into the machine.
  2. Discovery: Algorithms allow this data to be translated into usable insights. Algorithm learning methods are either supervised or unsupervised. 
  3. Deployment: Machine learning methods are deployed automatically in many cases. They integrate analytical models with business rules to often predict necessary future actions.

Make Information Easy to Find

Don't let your community members search for content that matters to them, Nagarajan said. Community managers have the power through machine learning and AI to take advantage of a vast amount of data available in the cloud or in proprietary systems and deliver relevant content to visitors, he said.

"People are not going to have patience anymore to dig in and search," Nagarajan said. "They want the best conversations and topics to come to them automatically. You can now personalize the content for each user in real time."

While the technology augments the community manager's role, he or she can take that personalized content to a deeper level. They can help connect people to peers.

"Our community members rely on us for trusted content, for new ideas and connection with peers," Nagarajan said. "Technology can constantly bring us to new content, and our communities and community manager should cultivate those relationships."

Luke Sinclair, director of global community, communications and knowledge management for American Express, spoke about that very challenge for personalization in an earlier session yesterday. Tasked with oversight for 6,000 community members, his teams are exploring machine learning and AI. They're also focused on the massive shift to mobile.

"How can we really bring that contextualized personalized experience to 6,000 community members that are completely globally dispersed and enable a very localized experience?" Sinclair asked. "We're looking very deeply at it."

Listening, Learning

Four panelists kicked off CMAD, each with different levels and association with the community management position: 

McCord said community managers must always use analytics to make their forums and platforms better — but also know what they are measuring.

"Why are we doing this? What is the motivation?" moderator L'Italien asked. "And are my actions aligned with what my intention is?"

Grana said she is lucky to have an excellent community manager at the American Chemical Society that listens to their members, takes it all in and proactively gets a sense of strategy and overarching goals.

"Listen to the market and go for it," Grana advised to community managers.

Binder said listening is a skill she takes seriously. Through focus groups, meetings and forums, she can get a sense of what community members value most.

"We think we know what they want," Binder said. "But listening and learning from them is key."

Illyn of Geostellar, which sells Solar Energy Systems, shared an "aha moment" in his role of community relations manager. He said his team built training modules for community members and began to notice their impact when they answered questions among themselves.

Asked to share his thoughts on innovating as a community manager, Illyn echoed the theme of listening of his peers.

"I would say feedback," he said.