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How to Talk to Your Members About AI

Jose Triana

March 17, 2022

How to Talk to Your Members About AI

Whether you realize it or not, AI is already a critical part of your daily routine. Always wondered how Amazon knew just the product to suggest when you’re about to start shopping? Curious as to how Netflix suggests that next serial killer docuseries right after you finish one?

That’s AI technology.

While there’s plenty of concern that you need to be a tech expert to delve into the uses of AI, the reality is there are tools you could be implementing in your organization with little to no difficulty. 

So how do you get buy-in from your association leadership and members? We’ve got you covered. 

What is AI?

The definition many experts use for AI is credited to Dennis Hassabis of DeepMind, an AI firm acquired by Google: 

“AI is the science of making machines smart. In a nutshell, we’re trying to get machines to mimic human capabilities like seeing, reading, writing, moving, and driving.”

Related: The Realities of Artificial Intelligence in Associations
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How does it do that? Through machine learning, another AI buzzword. Human beings can adapt and be creative, changing rules and decisions on the fly. Machine learning is the technology or concept that explains how AI works to replicate that type of thinking. 

By interpreting data using patterns and behaviors, AI is able to streamline and efficiently make decisions or identify opportunities for your organization. 

AI Misconceptions

While we said it emulates the human mind, that doesn’t mean it’s sentient…yet! 

Just kidding.

However, this is one of the many misconceptions that could cause association leaders to drag their feet when deciding whether or not to implement AI tools in their day-to-day operations. Others include: 

  • It’s too complex for our organization – Because AI can seem complex, people may think you need advanced degrees to even try and use it, but that’s not the case. Mike Kaput, Chief Content Officer at Marketing AI Institute says, “that's super helpful. But if you’re in business as a non-technical person, you absolutely can use AI, understand it and help your companies apply it without what we might call STEM training.”
  • AI is going to eliminate jobs – You no doubt have heard that artificial intelligence will eliminate jobs. While this may be true in certain spheres, AI is a tool that will augment and optimize human production. It’s a tool that still requires human input to function to its full potential — and can free up human time for more complex problems. For example, there was once a concern that ATMs might replace tellers, when in fact, ATMs are now responsible for solving routine necessities (dispensing cash and checking account balances), which allows bank tellers to help customers with more complex inquiries.
  • This “magic” is going to solve all our problems – There’s a lot of hype around AI. And while it can be an extremely useful tool, it won’t replace your entire team or solve all your problems. Rather, it can augment your efforts and identify opportunities – which can seem magical depending on the results. 

The other thing to remember is that AI is a long-term solution. While you may see some immediate improvements in things like your marketing efforts and member signups, the reality is that artificial intelligence depends on data. The more data it has, the better it works at predicting member behaviors that can help you refine your strategy.  

The umbrella of artificial intelligence

Many terms fall under the umbrella of artificial intelligence. However, you don’t have to worry about learning or understanding them all. Instead, by focusing on a few, you can better understand how this technology can be leveraged in your organization. 

  • Machine Learning –  The broadest of AI-related terms, this is the ability for a machine to use mathematical applications to process data, looking for patterns, which it can apply to current data and predict future trends. 
  • Deep Learning – Sophisticated machine learning where AI mimics the structure of the human brain. This is one of the more complex applications of artificial intelligence and requires the creation of neural networks to process data. 
  • Natural Language Processing – Ability for machines to process language mathematically and predict a reasonable response. This is used for things like chatbots, where members would be able to ask a bot a question, and it can either generate a response or interpret the query and provide a relevant piece of content to help. 
  • Natural Language Generation – Natural language generation (NLG) is a computer science term for a program that generates natural language, also known as human language. In other words, NLG programs are designed to understand and produce human-understandable and “natural” text.

And to show the extent of AI tools – that last section about NLG? I used a bot to write it, and all I had to do was provide the topic, natural language generation; thanks, Copy.Ai

How can it help your association?

Now that we know how AI works, what does that mean for your association? Some of the biggest areas artificial intelligence can help with include marketing, outreach and content creation. 

But how do you figure out what tools to experiment with? For starters, you need to identify areas it can help, which can be done easily with the following framework.  

  1. Think about all the tasks you do daily. 
  2. Rank the tasks based on what’s taking up the most time or effort. 
  3. Identify the tasks that need data – for example. Do you spend a lot of time weekly looking at your website traffic or analytics? 
  4. Research the options. 

Once you have an idea of what tasks you might need help with, use the internet for some help. For example, a simple Google search for “AI for [the problem you have]” will give you plenty of options. You can also use online tools, like Marketing AI Institute’s AI Score Tool, which uses a survey to help connect you with tools to fit your needs. 

Top AI tools to try

Rasa.io – Newsletters are a powerful tool in the association industry, but content curation can be a challenge. Rasa not only curates your newsletter by adding top articles from publications of your choice but also tracks the engagement from your audience to give them a more personalized newsletter each time. It’s the tool we use for our very own Sidecar Scoop

Frase.io – Using natural language processing, Frase uses all the content on your website to answer questions from members and potential members. This chatbot also provides data related to user experience, which allows you to make edits and improve your site as needed. 

Descript – Many associations offer educational videos or webinars – and editing can be a holdup when producing content. This AI tool makes editing video, screen recordings and transcription a breeze. 

What does your association need to know?

The bottom line is that AI is much more approachable than you may think. While there are plenty of complex theories and sciences behind artificial intelligence, the functional applications and tools for your association can be implemented without a ton of technical background and without a lot of data. 

Speaking of data, another thing to point out is that you don’t need to wait until you have a ton of it. Many AI tools use pre-existing data and scrape outside sites, which means you can start using them now without a lot of information on your end. 

Finally, remember the benefits. AI can help streamline and augment your existing efforts, which is a must for associations as they contend with limited time, resources, and in some cases, staff. We know that everyone is busy, but starting today will keep you ahead of the game and allow you to explore new possibilities that can help your organization in the long run.

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Jose Triana

Jose Triana joined the Sidecar team as the Content Manager in 2021. He is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.

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