Power of Nudging for Local Change-Making, A study from Reap Benefit’s Chatbot


MAY 04, 2023


Reap Benefit’s vision is an India, where every young person has the skills and a platform to improve the climate and governance of their neighbourhood. Reap Benefit has been using WhatsApp based chatbot (powered by Glific)  to nudge young people and citizens towards this vision of becoming local agents of change (solve ninjas as we like to call them) over the last 2 years. 

Fundamentally, this requires 2 aspects to work in tandem

  1. To activate or onboard a wide base of audience, (hereby referred to as solve ninjas) – in other words “New Solve Ninjas Acquired”
  2. To nudge the said audience to participate in and contribute their time, effort that leads to change-making in their communities- in other words – “Total Solve Ninjas Engaged*”

*Engaged solve ninjas for Reap Benefit’s chatbot is defined as “Solve Ninjas who are returning at least once to interact with the chatbot” this could be because of 

  1. Nudging** messages received through the chatbot or 
  2. Through social media or 
  3. Interaction with a team or community member.
Below table shares a screenshot of Reap Benefit’s chatbot performance in these 2 aspects through the course of FY22-23

**Nudging is a concept that has gained a lot of attention in recent years, particularly in the field of behavioural economics. The basic idea behind nudging is that people can be influenced to make better choices (ex- exercising the right to vote, joining a local community to improve waste management, auditing the street to discover issues that affect the well being of the environment and so on ) by changing the default options in a decision-making process, providing feedback or information about a behaviour, or using social norms to encourage certain actions.

Following are the types of nudges Reap Benefit is sending through its WhatsApp based chatbot to promote increased citizen participation in locally rooted governance and climate affairs. 

  • Join or start initiatives to improve locality (Join Campaign) 
  • Stay up-to date with local climate and civic policies (Get to know a policy) 
  • Build a solution or share a solution for a local problem 
  • Report local data on issues or assets (report local data) 
  • Success story of a peer or program 
  • Join Events (online and offline)
  • Get support from mentors to make a difference (Get Mentored) 

These categories of nudges are informed from an understanding of various personalities of solve ninjas who are likely to contribute towards local change-making

  1. some are inclined to build solutions (hands on solvers) 
  2. some have the knack to engage with local authorities and report issues (reporters)
  3. some are drawn to mobilise the masses in campaigns or join campaigns themselves (campaigners)
  4. some contribute by research of local data, policy and so on (researchers) 

Apart from these Reap Benefit nudges solve ninjas to  

  1. Share feedback on the program and products
  2. Inform them about Reap Benefit’s achievements, programs, products (Handshake)
Below table captures the numbers and types of nudge messages sent by Reap Benefit through FY22-23.

The bottom line from the 2 tables, through FY22-23: 

  1. Approx. 12k users returned to participate in direct or indirect change-making per quarter – from table 1
  2. The Reap Benefit team sent a total of 516 nudges through the chatbot to effect change-making. Each of these nudges were received by approx 1.2k solve ninjas (average reach) and on average 17.5% of the solve ninjas responded to each these nudges. – from table 2

The above results can be attributed to the 7 secret sauces of chatbot writing and a 3 course recipe of putting together a wholesome chatbot nudge message 

The 7 sauces for chatbot writing to up its “nudge-game”

  1. Relevance: Users are more likely to engage with content that is relevant to their interests or needs.

Example: using geographically relevant information. For this Reap Benefit has created a way to group citizens per their cities, group citizens based on preference in language, group citizens per gender or group citizens per previously demonstrated interests or behaviours. See screenshots to know more. 

A screenshot of geographic collections. 

A screenshot of interest based collections

A screenshot of gender+language based collections

  1. Value: Content that provides value to citizens, such as information or entertainment, can increase engagement. 
  1. Urgency: Content that creates a sense of urgency, such as limited time offers or breaking news, can drive engagement by creating a need for immediate action.

Example, during the time of Delhi’s Municipal Corporation elections,  there was a high relevance, clear value proposition and urgent need to get better informed. As a result Engagement rate (no of people who responded to a message / total no of people who received the message) doubled form the previous months average engagement rate (see the upward trending trend line)

  1. Emotion: Content that evokes strong emotions, such as excitement, humour, or anger, can drive engagement by eliciting a strong psychological response.

There were 2 landfills on fire at the same time, in Chennai and Delhi, so we nudged the groups of Delhi and Chennai to come together and do something about it. The result: close to a 100 citizens self formed  into 2 local communities (whatsapp groups) in 2 separate cities to with the drive to address this immediate problem. This included presidents / secretaries of local RWAs, young people as well as small and micro sustainability related start-up leaders among the citizens of those cities. 

  1. User control: Allowing users to customise their experience, such as by choosing their preferred content or setting their own preferences, can increase engagement

The screenshot shows all the potential pathways for solve ninjas to solving local problem and access Reap Benefit’s platform through the chatbot which they call “Solve Ninja Mentor”

  1. Social influence: Users are often influenced by the actions and opinions of their friends and peers, and social features, such as sharing and commenting, can increase engagement.

Sharing success stories of initiatives of peers from across the country has led to copy-cat effect, a healthy competitive spirit as well as foster a ecosystem of peer learning. We have seen local campaigns done in Kolktata being replicated in Chennai, Delhi. Knowing about the initiatives of solve ninjas from rural Karnataka and Punjab fueling the chain reaction of healthy one-up-manship for things such as initiating Makkala Grama Sabhas, restoring public libraries, lakes, helping citizens to exercise the right to vote. 

  1. Scarcity: Creating a perception of scarcity, such as limited availability or limited time offers, can drive engagement by creating a sense of exclusivity.

The 3 most course recipe of a chatbot nudge  that must be sauced up with above 7 points.

1. The gateway message (the first message): This is most crucial, as the reader is likely to decide to continue from reading this. This has to evoke emotions, demonstrate value, create urgency or create a sense of loss aversion. 

Copy 1 (without sauce): Hello! I hope you’re doing well. I am reaching out to introduce XYZ org and our new chatbot ABC. We offer a variety of skill building services that could be helpful to you. Would you be interested in learning more?

Copy 2: (applying the principles of loss aversion, demonstrating value): Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity! Our chatbot ABC offers top-of-the-line games and mentors that can help you build public speaking and creative thinking skills. But time is running out, so act fast and take advantage of your free time this summer while you still can

2. The closure: if someone completes the experience ex-feedback, a survey, a task, how is the experience ending for them, it has to provide a sense of accomplishment (a dopamine boost if you will) ex- a genuine appreciation (not a generic badge), an unexpected surprise like a funny meme or social proofing of some sort goes a long way.

Copy 1 (without sauce): Thank you for sharing. Your task has been received and will be reviewed shortly by a team member. 

Copy 2 (incorporating social proofing, emotion and relevance): Hooray! Your task is now complete, and you’ve taken the first step towards transforming your life. We know it’s not easy to make changes, so we want to celebrate your commitment by sharing an inspiring success story of change-maker who started off like you just did. Check it out and keep up the great work

3. The shareable / invitational message: This is to boost your product led marketing. A way for someone to invite their friend / colleague / family members to the same experience. It has to be made clear to the citizen that this message has to be forwarded, it helps to include why to share, whom to share it with in order to help them make the decision to undertake the action of inviting.

The shareable message itself will be read by a totally new person (most likely chances) so you have to give enough context which will make someone click the link as well as enough information which orientates the user on what to expect next.

Copy 1 (without sauce): Hi! My friend recommended this chatbot to me, and I thought you might be interested in checking it out too. Here’s the link – let me know what you think!

Copy 2 (incorporating the value proposition, social influence and emotions) : Hey there! I recently tried out this amazing chatbot and had such a great experience that I wanted to share it with you. Not only will you love it, but you’ll also be doing your future self a favor by acquiring new life skills . So go ahead and click on the link to discover what all this is all about!

What you should takeaway from this article

  1. Figure out the various types of personalities within your range of target audience, have nudges (products or messages) that cater to all. Diversify the content you share to a large group within a time period.

Say you send 4 nudging messages to a group of 100 people within 1 month. Each time you observe that only 15 respond to your message. This means there is an average engagement rate of 15%. But if you’re able to send 5 different nudges, you will observe that 15 different people have responded to each message leading to 60 people being engaged throughout the month. 

  1.  Take feedback on the 3 key messages (gateway, closure and shareable) in your flows to get the input effort right. If your organization’s goal is to have a high engagement rate and virality for the product. Audit and rework your messages to incorporate at least 2 to 3 of the secret sauces mentioned. Or use the secret sauces as a prompt along with your copy 1 as an input to chatGPT. 
  1. Find a way to keep a track of all the nudges you’re sending so you can review progress, spot trends, get better as a team over time. (use google sheets as the most basic and free option, see the screenshot of the template being used by Reap Benefit)
  1. And finally, join the Reap Benefit chatbot for yourself because time is running out to address the urgent climate and governance issues in our communities and the world. Don’t just sit idly by – join the Solve Ninja Mentor Bot today and start making a difference

1. Access to ready DIY solutions to help you solve a problem near you.

2. Stay up-to date on the climate policy impacting your locality.

3. Talk to expert mentors who can guide you in making a difference.

4. Participate in or start initiatives for improving your locality

5. Share acts of change and shape your own change-maker’s portfolio

Opportunity of lifetime starts here: https://bit.ly/3KbHpgG this link opens in WhatsApp chat of Solve Ninja Mentor Bot, hit send to join the purposeful community of problem solvers today

For further information, deep dive, connect to know more about Reap Benefit’s chatbot or if you would like help to up the nudge game of your glific chatbot write to info@reapbenefit.orgtejasm@reapbenefit.org, or gauthamraje@reapbenefit.org or kuldeep@reapbenefit.org 

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