Today it’s really important for businesses to create active online communities and get users involved. To do this, we need to understand how users behave and what motivates them. Recently, Shubhansha, the Head of Product at Yelp, taught a class about “How to Use AI to Improve Building Communities and Getting Users Engaged.” In this blog post, we’ll talk about the things Shubhansha shared and how AI and behavioral economics can make a big difference in creating content and involving the community.

Masterclass: Using AI to boost community building and user engagement
Watch the masterclass: Using AI to boost community building and user engagement

Before we delve into the wealth of information shared during the masterclass, let’s meet Shubhansha, the Head of Product at Yelp. With over a decade of experience in the tech industry and a background as an engineer, Shubhansha brings a wealth of knowledge to the discussion. She’s worked across various sectors, from fitness to B2B services, but her current passion lies in the consumer space, particularly community and content contributions at Yelp. Shubhansha’s expertise centers on how AI and behavioral economics can be harnessed to enhance content creation and community building. And this is precisely what she delved into during the masterclass.

Why Community Building and User Engagement Matter

Shubhansha emphasized the significance of community and content generation. Building and maintaining thriving online communities isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a strategy that drives user engagement and trust. In the digital realm, trust is the foundation upon which connections are established, decisions are made, and businesses thrive.

Content Types that Foster Trust: Shubhansha distinguished between two primary types of content prevalent on platforms like Yelp: curated content and user-generated content. While both have their place, user-generated content takes center stage when it comes to trust-building. This form of content includes reviews, photos, videos, surveys, and other factual information. These pieces of content provide authentic experiences and valuable insights that resonate with users.

The Challenge of User Contribution

The challenge that often arises is motivating users to contribute content willingly. After all, writing a review or sharing an experience can be time-consuming, and many users may not see an immediate tangible reward. This is where AI and behavioral economics come into play. Shubhansha pointed out that understanding why users should care about contributing and making the process easier for them are key components of successful community building.

Navigating the Intention-Action Bridge

Shubhansha introduced a critical concept during the masterclass—the intention-action bridge. Essentially, this refers to the gap between a user’s intention to take a particular action, such as writing a review, and actually following through with it. This gap is often filled with friction, which can be both logistical (difficulty in taking action) and cognitive (unclear reasons for taking action).

AI as a Solution to Reduce Friction

The power of AI becomes evident in reducing friction. Shubhansha provided practical examples of how AI can make the user experience smoother by offering smart suggestions and simplifying the process. Timing also plays a crucial role. Shubhansha suggested engaging users soon after their experience when their memories are fresh and their motivation is higher.

Overcoming Cognitive Friction

Cognitive friction, often related to writer’s block, can be alleviated through AI-generated suggestions. By providing users with specific topics or questions to write about, AI can help users overcome the mental barriers to content creation. Shubhansha also emphasized the importance of user-generated photos, videos, and other media in enhancing content.

Balancing Trust and Automation

While AI can assist users in content creation, Shubhansha stressed the importance of maintaining trust. User-generated content should remain authentic and credible. Therefore, the goal isn’t to replace users with AI-generated content but to assist them in their contributions while preserving trust within the community.

User Motivation and Timing

Motivating users to contribute content involves understanding their intrinsic motivations. Shubhansha highlighted that users are more likely to contribute when they know their input will help others with similar interests or experiences. Moreover, the timing of content requests matters. Engaging users within a week of their experience ensures that their memories are fresh, increasing their motivation to contribute.

Balancing Suggestions and Bias

One concern that surfaced during the discussion was whether AI-generated suggestions might lead to biased responses. While this is a valid concern, Shubhansha emphasized that trust remains essential, especially in certain business categories. Maintaining authenticity should always take precedence.

In a world where digital communities and user engagement are at the forefront of business strategies, understanding the intricacies of content creation and community building is crucial. Shubhansha’s insights into the power of AI and behavioral economics offer a roadmap for platforms and businesses looking to harness these tools to boost user engagement, build trust, and create thriving online communities. By reducing friction, understanding user motivations, and maintaining authenticity, businesses can foster connections that drive success in the digital realm.

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