Social media and AI (how to use machines to connect with humans)
How AI can boost your social media game and what you can do to make it sound as natural as possible
If you were to tell the average communications professional just ten years ago that we would soon be outsourcing our human social media connection to AI chatbots and text-to-image generators, they would probably recoil and incredulously ask, "What? Why? What's the point of that? That sounds insane."
And they would be right...
Objectively, it is weird that we are turning over our most human communication (via Twitter) to the least human thing possible: a chatbot. But that's what's happening. The demand for witty, engaging, effective social media copy has simply superseded what the average person can provide, and we are forced to delegate our comms to our robot overlords/underlings.
However, there is a wrong way and a right way to do this. The world does not need more generic, bland, mass-produced social media copy cluttering up our Twitters and LinkedIns and Myspaces. We asked a few experts in the field how they're using AI to bolster their (and their clients') social media presence, and we're going to steal their wisdom and use it for our own nefarious purposes.
Without further ado, let's dive into the use of AI in social media.
Who is following you on social media? Why? Where do they come from, and why are they multiplying so fast? Why are their eyes glowing so bright? These are just some of the questions that have been plaguing social media managers for centuries.
There are AI tools that marketers and communications professionals can use that can give insightful demographics about your audience across your preferred social media outlets.
I’ve just begun using Hootsuite’s new AI tool in my social media strategy to create social posts based on blog posts from our company website. The AI does a pretty good job at reading a blog article I provide, pulling snippets, and then crafting possible social posts. I’ve also been using the AI to create additional social posts based on my top performing social posts, to get more mileage out of these popular topics with my audience. It’s not a couple clicks and done type solution, the AI generated social posts still need some finessing to be sure, but they’re a great starting point and help with writer’s block!
Examples of such tools include:
Content creation is probably the most controversial use case for generative AI tools like ChatGPT. While AI might be a good starting point for brainstorming, should social media managers copy text directly from generative AI tools instead of allowing humans to do their human thing and connect with other humans in a human way?
No! And most seasoned PR professionals we've talked to agree that a copy-and-paste approach to AI and chatbots is a pretty awful strategy in almost every way. Not only is it morally dubious, but it's also intellectually and creatively lazy, and is poised to be aggressively abused by the laziest in the field en masse.
We have explored the use of AI for social media through content creation, but primarily for research/brainstorming purposes or to get ideas for engaging copy. Like most brands, we use a content calendar for social media posts, so ideating or drafting content doesn’t mean we immediately post it.
I think it’s critical to keep a consistent brand image on social media not to confuse users and keep content cohesive. What we’ve posted recently has not changed in looks, but ChatGPT (as an example) doesn’t have to do your writing to be a helpful tool or ultimately affect your ROI.
Many brands may choose to create all their content using AI tools. A future of social media driven solely by AI-powered content looks somewhat homogenous and lacks that personal touch people bring to creating content. However, business leaders would be amiss not to use these tools for their applications in efficiency and research.
This truly cannot be overstated: generative AI should not be a copy-and-paste content strategy! Not for blogs, not for social media, not for letters to your elderly grandmother.
But that doesn't mean AI can't be useful in repurposing content, distilling and summarizing content, or generating ideas. There are definitely uses for AI within the content generation workflow, but actually creating content? Let's leave that to the humans.
The days of manually poring over dense charts and graphs are over.
Many social media professionals are turning to AI tools to analyze how effective their posts will likely be based on complicated algorithms that I certainly can begin to understand on my own. Take this pro, for example, who walks us through his process, including his use of the social media effectiveness tool FeedHive:
I want to start by saying I'm not using AI to generate my content. I don't like people who do so, as their personality doesn't shine through. That said, there are still great options for using AI with your social media. I like to use it for primarily 3 things. Idea generation, when it's best to post, and feedback on my posts. So if I have a subject I want to post about, it'll often be a sequel. I'll ask AI to generate some ideas, not the actual posts, but ideas I can work with. With the ideas at hand, I'll start writing my posts, and when I have them ready, I'll run them through Feedhive's AI algorithm. FeedHive is a social media tool which is utilising AI to give feedback on tweets. They have trained their algorithm on thousands of tweets they know performed well, so you write your tweet, and then the AI gives you feedback. Lastly, it's time to schedule the sequel, and again I use AI to predict when most of my followers and target group are active for maximum engagement.
You can also ask the AI tools why nobody liked your cool tweet about birds or something if you want! Prediction and analysis are both important in an overall effective social media strategy.
Interestingly enough, chatbots can help you come up with some posting strategies for your social media presence. We all know that the hardest part of social is often coming up with new and fresh ideas, and figuring out what to write is often easier than figuring out what to write about.
Brainstorming content ideas or posting strategies is a great use of AI because it still leaves the creativity and human element to you (the alleged human 👀) but just gives you that little idea boost in the social media workflow. You can take the ideas and run with them in your own way without having to mine the social feeds of competitors for ideas. (Not that you'd actually do that, right?)
I have attained a good amount of success with my website but I am always looking at promoting it through different avenues. Unfortunately I hate INSTAGRAM...well, at the moment anyway.
I never know what to post, and find that the platform screams "look at me!"
So, I approached with business in mind and asked ChatGPT for some advice.
I said, "Hi, I'm looking to grow my instagram following for my blog. I run a website on sustainable living and I don't know where to start on Instagram, can you give me some ideas for posts.."
Sure enough, Chat GPT gave me enough ideas for a month's worth of posts. Now it's up to me to execute! No matter how bold or unlikely I would previously find some of the ideas to be, I am going for it and posting on a consistent basis.
I'm excited to see how these new ideas will help me grow my following and reach a wider audience with my message of sustainable living.
So, where are we going? How are brand storytelling and social media poised to change with the rapid introduction of AI tools and chatbots? As we've seen, some things will get better. The annoying bits of brand social are now becoming largely automated, which is a good thing! It leaves the creative professionals the time to do what they do best: be creative.
But oh, wait, no. The future of AI means that many shortsighted marketing teams are now going to outsource the creativity part, too. Which is deeply unfortunate and axiomatically extremely un-creative.
AI tools are becoming exponentially more sophisticated in shorter time frames. Savvy brands are starting to build out their teams with prompt engineers and tailored programs that integrate with awareness and growth KPIs.
However, AI tools are not a silver bullet solution for social media content creation, customer engagement, and analytics. The potential to generate large volumes of generic content due to superficial prompt writing may cause brand communities to become more discerning when it comes to poorly thought-out AI integrations. Similar to the evolution of SEO writing, we can expect a similar progression with AI tools.
Our prediction is that social is going to become monstrously generic until it self-corrects and people recognize that copying and pasting straight from ChatGPT maybe isn't the best strategy for building a social media presence.
AI tools and chatbots should never take over the role of creatively and personally communicating your brand on social media. However, the myriad AI tools available can give you a boost as far as analyzing, predicting, scheduling, and brainstorming awesome content to share with your audience.
What are your favorite AI tools for social media? Give us a shout on Twitter (or send your robot assistants to do it). Or, since you're here, why not subscribe to our cheeky newsletter, where we talk about AI, PR, comms, and all those cool things (featuring possibly too many Star Trek references if that's possible).