Webinar recap: Demystifying AI for communities

Rachel Singleton, Senior Manager, Integrated Campaigns

As our digital landscape continues to evolve, AI and automation have found a place front and center as 'the next big thing.' From self-driving cars on our streets to virtual assistants in our homes, the influence of these technologies is undeniable. The power of this technology also extends to the online communities we engage in.

AI and automation now offer personalized content recommendations and customer support, changing how we interact with each other and the companies and brands we engage with. And yet, we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with this new technology.

Has your brand considered how you can and should be leveraging AI and automation in your community yet? If not, it's a great time to start strategizing.

In this recent CMX Masterclass, Brian Oblinger, a strategic community consultant, and Nick Hill, our VP of Product for Community, explored how AI and automation are reshaping online communities and the opportunities and challenges that come with this transformation. In case you missed it, we're sharing some of the highlights from their session in this recap: how we got here, what you can do today, and where Brian and Nick believe we are heading.

What are AI and automation?

Let’s start with a short breakdown of what Brian and Nick mean by AI and automation. AI enhances automation by providing decision-making capabilities, learning, adaptability, and the ability to handle complex tasks.

Together, they enable more intelligent, efficient, and responsive systems. AI itself can encompass thousands of types of technology. Brian explained how these different pieces nest within one another:

  • AI: A broad term for any computer or technology that can mimic human thought, intelligence, or behaviors

  • Machine Learning: Systems that use algorithms to mimic the way the human brain learns

  • Generative AI: Systems that learn patterns in existing data sets and output new results (text, images, video, audio) when asked to do so

  • ChatGPT: A popular Generative AI product that users can “chat” with. Users ask questions (“message”) and it returns results

  • Automation: Using technology to simulate repeated human tasks

As Nick explained, generative AI has everyone excited, but the challenge is determining how we apply it. There’s training, learning, and how to plug them in or mix and match. Once you start to unpack it all, you quickly see challenges and opportunities to consider.

Some automation has been around for a while, like natural language processing (NLP). It took a lot of work and training to develop, but generative AI has helped to increase automation, requiring less manual curation and improved services.

Here is a quick overview of some of the community-related services that make up the automation world:

A brief history of AI and communities

The team at Stack Overflow started to notice that people were using ChatGPT to answer questions in their community, and they became concerned about the quality of the answers and momentarily banned the use of generative AI. This story came full circle this year when they reversed the policy and released their own AI product.

AI has also helped shape a lot of the community experience lately, and there are three early use cases: moderation, assistants, and authoring. People quickly saw an opportunity to help moderation by using AI to understand sentiment, whether there was an action to take, and if they could automate it.

AI assistants are also starting to pop up everywhere. Similarly, AI and automation are helping a lot with content authoring —from grammar correction to sentence completion, whether you’re using Grammarly or Google. As a whole, AI holds a lot of potential to help people structure their ideas and feedback about products in the community space.

Brian’s predictions: Where we’re headed

Brian introduced his predictions for how AI and automation will impact the community space in the near future. We’ll walk through some of them below.

Communities will get worse before they get better. By this, he means we’ll have a learning curve before the technology fully matures. There is a tendency to rush the process with all of the hype. Brian warned us to be careful about considering all the downstream effects of utilizing AI in a community without fully thinking through or planning for its use.

The authentic, verified human connection will become more important than ever. While a bot might be handy for quick answers in a community, it won’t be able to offer the human connection that people seek when joining or taking part in a community, like in a community for mental health or parenting. Brian reasons this could lead to some sort of human verification within communities.

Smaller, private communities will flourish, and this all goes back to the data. People should make sure their comments and information are protected. This is already happening to some degree where larger organizations are banning generative AI to safeguard company data and secrets. While the more prominent communities will not go away, some will seek other experiences, like messaging, to control the permissions.

We need a new breed of community platforms and tools. There may be a temptation to start using AI tools in your community. While possible, a good alternative is to let these powerful technologies become tried and tested and adequately baked into community solutions. That’s where people like Nick come in. 

You can hear all of his predictions in the full webinar on-demand.

What’s next for AI and Khoros Communities

One of Nick’s key points concerns AI orchestration and how it will shake things up in the next few years. That includes changes in the vendors providing these services, what these services can do specifically, and which ones are nailing it.

Nick feels that mixing, matching, and testing to see how they work together will become a necessity. It’s a puzzle Nick is already starting to work on in our next generation of online communities.

And rest assured, we’re hard at work ensuring you get these tools to play with and test before turning them on for your users.

Upcoming Khoros features to have on your radar

Automation rules

Automation rules are one of the first new capabilities Khoros has been working on. They will enable Community Managers to streamline their AI and automation by setting up triggers based on real-time community events. Think of it as a continuous flow of data capturing every user action, from content creation to tagging and mentions.

These triggers can be fine-tuned with conditional logic, allowing for intricate automation scenarios. Whether you're checking for specific tags, mentions, or post intents, this flexibility empowers you to tailor responses and actions.

Even better, automation rules will seamlessly integrate with AI services. Khoros passes the event data to your AI service, offering recommendations and executing actions, improving community management. This new capability will enhance content filtering and free up moderators from repetitive tasks.

Self-service assistants

Next, Nick explored the significance of self-service assistants in online communities. Users often prefer the ease of finding answers through search engines rather than navigating complex community forums.

So, what's the solution?

Khoros is creating a user-friendly experience that offers a direct path to self-help within the community.

We envision a comprehensive approach, starting with self-service content at the top of the funnel. From there, automation and bots will guide users to connect to knowledge sources, including community boards and external documentation. Doing so ultimately creates a holistic, digital-first, self-service experience that benefits users and businesses. It's all about efficiency and continuous improvement through data-driven insights.

Authoring and content management experiences

The final area Nick touched on was authorship and maximizing the value and reach of user-generated content with AI authoring and management tools–highlighting key contributions while still preserving the human element.

Khoros is also building tools that automatically generate knowledge articles from solutions, discussions, or agent responses and recommend related content to users. It is a streamlined process for content creators with features like SEO keyword optimization suggestions and automated tagging based on content. Finally, comprehensive content lifecycle management capabilities are in the pipeline to keep community content organized and healthy.


This webinar showed us a lot of potential for automation and AI in online communities. However, there’s a delicate balance when providing customers with convenient, user-friendly experiences and ensuring cost-effectiveness and scalability for your business.

You’ll want to be able to apply AI and automation to improve the functionality of your community but also create human experiences that drive revenue.

To start thinking about using AI in your community, Nick encourages practitioners to consider their core use cases, such as onboarding, learning, and enablement. Once you implement AI services in the community, test and iterate before officially turning them on. Achieve this by using them in ways where you're simply tagging or simulating what the automation would do, then having humans review it.

But remember, we still have a long road ahead for the technology to mature and big AI and automation success in communities. Brian highlighted the essential groundwork needed, stressing the importance of clean data and cross-functional teamwork.

As we embark on this AI revolution, let's remain committed to delivering efficient, ethical, and user-centered solutions that will shape the future of online communities. Together, we can leverage AI and automation services to craft dynamic and responsive online environments.

Learn more about how Khoros Communities can work for you here.

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