How AI is revolutionizing social media marketing and managementBy Lawrence Dy
In 2015, UBS Group in Switzerland predicted that AI revenues would grow by 20 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2020. It also noted that “software companies will…charge ahead, pushing the boundaries of automation, search, and social media (UBS).”
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Eight years after that prediction, the age of artificial intelligence in social media seems to have arrived. Explore some of the biggest AI social media impacts below and learn how you can leverage these resources to support client goals, agency growth, improved workflows, and positive ROI for all types of social media marketing.
Table of Contents
- The importance of striking a balance with AI applications
- How AI is transforming social media management
- Challenges of using AI in social media
- Opportunities of AI in social media strategy
- How Vendasta's Social Marketing tool is integrating AI
- Frequently asked questions
The importance of striking a balance with AI applications
In recent years, content and social media marketers have witnessed the rise of artificial intelligence in social media tools that bring positive and negative implications to the industry. With the power of AI, agencies can quickly scale social media offerings and brands can understand their online reputation with a few clicks. But applications of artificial intelligence in social media come with some level of concern — about the loss of human jobs, diminished human context, and the degradation of human privacy.
Despite a plethora of articles decrying AI social media and content tools, however, there are many use cases for AI on social media platforms and in social media marketing strategies. For most users, the preferred path strikes a balance between the positive uses of artificial intelligence in social media tools and the careful consideration of common concerns.
How AI is transforming social media management
AI isn’t new to social media management. Brands that have used Facebook’s ad wizard to target audiences with sponsored posts and influencers that have worked the algorithm on Instagram to show up for increasingly larger audiences have engaged with artificial intelligence to some degree for years. But the rapidly changing — and growing — landscape of AI is currently transforming social media management and marketing at speeds that were previously not seen.
AI-powered content creation
Successful social media marketing is built on data — when you understand who the audience is, what information they want and need, and how to convey that information in ways that spawn the greatest engagement, you can launch campaigns that drive superior results. AI can analyze large amounts of data — well beyond any human capability — to help you create targeted, personalized content for social media platforms.
AI social media content creation works by:
- Creating compelling captions. Feed the right AI tool images and information about your audience and business, and it can write captions designed to engage and convert. Today’s AI leverages natural language processing to create content that sounds human and can, in many cases, emulate your brand voice with little to no human intervention or editing required — especially for short and simple content.
- Implementing strong hashtags. AI social media tools can analyze thousands or even millions of hashtags across social media platforms to understand what is trending and most relevant to a product, audience, or topic. For agencies selling social media packages, this leads to an expert understanding of hashtags and more viable hashtag campaigns for every client.
- Developing custom images. AI-generated content isn’t limited to text. AI image generators let you create custom images without graphic design or art skills.
Social media monitoring
The ability of artificial intelligence in social media to gather, analyze, and present enormous amounts of data creates important new social listening capabilities. These tools monitor activity on social platforms in real-time and can be programmed to extract and present critical information such as trends and user sentiments.
In 2022, only around 60 percent of businesses engaged in social listening, but more than 80 percent said it was a key element in future strategic planning (Social Media Today). Top reasons for social media monitoring include:
- Understanding brand sentiment. Brand sentiment analytics let you track what’s working for users and audiences and what’s not so you can make proactive changes to marketing strategies as well as products.
- Understanding brand awareness. Tracking brand awareness helps you understand who is talking about a company, where discussions are occurring, and how often they occur. You can also track awareness for events and product launches.
- Keeping up with industry trends. Social listening helps you stay up-to-date on the evolving landscape in any industry, which can inform marketing and other business decisions.
- Conducting competitive analysis. Use AI data to understand how users feel about competitors or how competitors are engaging with audiences. Both help you create stronger campaigns.
AI helps you identify and target specific segments of your audience. It leverages algorithms, behavioral metrics, demographics, and other data points, returning suggestions for the most effective ad formats and content to increase conversion rates. For agencies offering comprehensive social media management packages that include ads, AI makes it easier to generate greater returns for every client investment.
Challenges of using AI in social media
Like AI in general, artificial intelligence in social media tools have created concerns. Understanding these concerns helps you create important boundaries and balance when integrating AI into your processes.
For applications of artificial intelligence in social media, due diligence is critical. You should always check that AI-created content isn’t copied from somewhere else, as you don’t want to be accused of plagiarism. Since AI can misconstrue information — particularly complex or nuanced information — you should also fact-check content before you publish it.
Generative AI also brings new and old copyright concerns to the table. Numerous lawsuits in 2022 and 2023 claim that these image and text content creation tools were trained on licensed and unlicensed work that belongs to others. Yet the iterative works created by AI don’t credit these original sources, which many believe to be an intellectual property rights issue (Harvard Business Review).
Data and privacy concerns
When using artificial intelligence in social media management, ensure you understand what data is being used and where it comes from. AI requires large amounts of data to train algorithms and machine learning behaviors, and that data may or may not be linked to users who understand — and agree to — how it’s used.
In fact, growing numbers of governing bodies are concerned about the data and privacy implications associated with AI. In the spring of 2023, Italy became the first nation to ban ChatGPT over privacy concerns (BBC). Social media agencies and marketers relying on AI should remain aware of the overall climate of governance on this topic, as regulatory trends could impact how AI is used.
Relying too heavily on AI for social media posts can lead to several stumbling blocks:
- Loss of human due diligence. Using AI to create and publish social media content is convenient, but it’s a slippery slope from streamlining to complete automation. If you take people out of the process completely, no one is checking whether the content is accurate or appropriate.
- Reduction in key skills. The more the machines do, the less practice human content creators get. While there’s no need to keep tedious and repetitive tasks with people, you do want teams to flex creative and marketing muscles regularly.
- Inauthenticity. Natural language processing has made leaps and bounds in recent years, but computers still don’t react and sound exactly like humans. Overreliance on AI can lead to inauthenticity. And authenticity is critical — 90 percent of customers say it’s an important factor in whether they like or support a brand (Forbes).
ChatGPT and other tools are impressive to interact with, and it’s easy to forget that there’s a computer on the other end of the connection. Those AI systems build their skill sets on data gathered from across the internet and input by human programmers. That means they can have inherent biases that are inherent in that data — and then include those biases in the content they generate.
For example, in 2022, AI image generator DALL-E mini was asked to create paintings depicting a founding CEO of a European startup. The images it returned were primarily male (World Economic Forum), demonstrating a bias that indicates men are more likely to hold executive roles than women.
Relying too heavily on AI for social media content — especially without human intervention in editing and fact-checking — can result in the perpetuation of stereotypes or seemingly discriminating behavior. Obviously, neither of those is good for brands.
Opportunities of AI in social media strategy
The expected CAGR for the AI social media market is an impressive 28.3 percent, so the concerns outlined above aren’t doing much to slow things down. And for good reason. The opportunities associated with social media AI offer many potential benefits for brands and agencies.
Enhanced social listening
Whether you want to use social media in reputation management or you like the power of data-backed decisions, social media AI tools definitely deliver.
- Image recognition. One field of AI known as computer vision helps machines gather meaningful information from visuals, including photographs, art, or even logos. Use cases range from understanding how often a product is pictured online to drawing conclusions about how people feel when they are pictured using a product.
- Sentiment analysis. Natural language processing helps AI decode the emotional context behind human text. While it’s not perfect, AI can tell with some degree of accuracy if overall sentiments are positive or negative, happy or sad, or calm or angry. These insights allow you to “take the temperature” of your audience on various topics, including new product launches or the impact of a marketing campaign.
- Crisis recognition. You can teach AI to recognize patterns in social media content that might indicate that a brand, marketing, or public relations crisis is arising. For example, a children’s toy company might want to know if social media mentions of its products include words such as “toxic,” “dangerous,” or “injury.” AI can ensure brands are aware of such issues in real-time.
Personalization isn’t something that sets you apart from the crowd today — it’s become a requirement. More than 60 percent of customers expect it from the brands they engage with (Marketing AI Institute). Using AI for social media posts and advertising ensures content is based on user preferences and behavior, which can increase engagement and conversion rates.
When it comes to artificial intelligence in social media, automation is a huge benefit. Here are a few ways AI can reduce work for marketing teams:
- Content creation. AI tools can draft captions based on multiple inputs, creating numerous versions in seconds. Marketing teams only have to review and edit content. This streamlined approach lets agencies scale content creation to meet the needs of their clients.
- Responding to content. Today’s audiences expect fast, accurate responses to comments and messages. AI tools can provide suggested responses that can be tweaked as needed, speeding up the entire process and reducing communication burnout for social media teams.
- Curating content. AI tools make it easier to find relevant content to share with social media users, reducing the need to spend hours a week on research.
- Scheduling and posting content. Teams can create well-planned social media content calendars and schedule posts weeks or months ahead of time. Once posts are scheduled, they’re automatically posted at the appropriate time, leaving teams free to engage with audiences online or handle other social media marketing tasks.
The most creative AI social media content creation efforts are wasted if you’re targeting the wrong audience. Luckily, AI can help you analyze user data and target the right audience for every client, brand, or product. When the right message connects with the right audience, engagement and conversion rates rise.
The insights AI can provide for social media marketing help brands refine strategies over time, constantly seeking improvements that increase ROI. Areas where AI is especially helpful include:
- Understanding campaign performance. Are people engaging with the campaign and does it have a positive bottom-line impact for the business?
- Determining the effectiveness of content. What content are people engaging with most and what type of posts are driving click-through and other conversion actions?
- Tracking audience behavior. Is the overall audience still responding to content in the same way, or are there shifts and trends that necessitate strategy evolution?
How Vendasta's Social Marketing tool is integrating AI
Vendasta works hard to keep up with industry trends and best practices. That includes integrating AI into the Social Marketing tool.
Vendasta’s AI-powered marketing tools make it easy to respond to social media comments, messages, and reviews. When using the tool, you can click suggest response to launch the AI capability. The tool takes the entire context into account — from the star rating and text in a review or the comment and original post in your feed — to form a potential reply.
Users can post the AI-generated reply as is or edit it for additional clarity or human context. Even when accounting for human editing time, AI-powered responses are generally much faster than starting from scratch.
Vendasta’s tool also supports AI-assisted content creation for original social media posts. Users can start with suggested content for posts to speed up content creation. The AI tool lets you start with some basic parameters, such as whether you want a long or short post. You can further define the content by type, letting the AI know whether you want to promote something, celebrate a holiday, or achieve something else with your content.
Again, once the suggested content is created automatically, you can post it as is or make edits before you schedule or publish it. Overall, AI content generation isn’t designed to take people out of the process. It’s meant to streamline efforts, reduce the burden of constant creativity, and provide a springboard for launching high-quality content that’s created in partnership with AI rather than solely by the machine.
Frequently asked questions
What are some common AI tools used in social media marketing?
Vendasta’s Social Marketing tool, Content Studio, Flick, Lately, and ChatGPT are all potential AI tools you can use in your social media marketing work. Most commonly, social media AI tools are used to enhance efficiencies and help with research and data gathering, analysis, content creation, and responding to comments and messages.
How can businesses implement artificial intelligence in social media strategies?
AI can be used to gather and structure raw data, making it easier to discover trends and insights that inform social media marketing efforts. Natural language processing makes it possible to use AI to help create captions and hashtags faster, and AI image tools let teams create unique pictures and videos for social posts.