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AI for Social Media: Everything You Need to Know
Blog Feature

By: Mike Kaput

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April 21st, 2021

AI for Social Media: Everything You Need to Know

Do you rely on social media to build an audience, drive engagement with your brand and content, and convert prospects into leads or sales across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other platforms?

If so, you need to be considering how artificial intelligence can dramatically increase the revenues you bring in from social, while reducing the costs of social media strategy, creation, and management.

AI-powered tools are being deployed today by brands to:

  • Create social media posts and optimize social media campaigns.
  • Figure out what posts work best using advanced analytics.
  • Inform social media strategy.
  • Measure brand and trends across each social media channel and find your target audience.
  • Write social ads.
  • Decrease social media management time and costs across platforms.
  • Conduct social media monitoring.

In this post, we describe how AI can transform how every social media marketer does their work, then offer some practical use cases and vendors to start investigating.

What is AI? 

Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term that covers several different technologies, like machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, deep learning, and more.

At their core, AI technology helps machines perform specific cognitive tasks as well as or better than humans.

For instance, AI-powered computer vision systems in self-driving cars are able to identify obstacles just like people do, allowing the machine to take the wheel.

Your favorite voice assistant, like Alexa or Siri, understands your words just like another person, then responds in kind-all using AI.

Amazon and Netflix use AI recommendation engines to offer up products and movies you might like, making assumptions about your preferences just like a fellow product or movie enthusiast might.

While there are a ton of complexities to different types of AI, all you really need to know right now is that "artificial intelligence" describes many different types of smart technologies.

And even one AI powered tool can have a serious impact your marketing career and performance.

That's because AI isn't just automation, though it may include elements of intelligent automation. AI takes things a few steps further.

These technologies analyze large datasets. They don't just crunch numbers, though.

They use advanced computer science techniques and superior computational firepower to extract insights from data. These insights can then be used to make predictions, recommendations, and decisions.

In the process, the most advanced AI systems actually use machine learning to improve their predictions, recommendations, and decisions as they make more of them.

How is AI used in social media?

The world's most popular social media platforms have AI at their core.

By quickly understanding how top platforms use AI, you can quickly see why AI is so important in social media.

How does Facebook use AI?

Facebook uses AI to do everything from translate foreign languages to automatically classify images. In fact, AI is at the very center of how Facebook works.

The company's AI algorithms predict what content you will engage with most, based on your historical engagement. The platform then serves that content to you. 

Facebook also uses AI to suggest ad copy and target advertising to audiences most likely to click and act on your ads. 

Today, the company relies on AI for content moderation, using it to filter out offensive or harmful images, video, and text at scale. 

How does Instagram use AI?

Like Facebook, Instagram uses AI to target ads and serve you interesting content based on what you've engaged with in the past.

It also leans on AI to filter out spam, since the platform has problems with spam bots posting comments and content.

How does YouTube use AI?

A big way YouTube now uses AI is to fight misinformation by identifying and flagging videos trying to spread the conspiracy theories and fake news that have proliferated in recent years.

YouTube also relies on AI to serve you content that it thinks you'll like to watch next.

How does TikTok use AI?

TikTok is one of the first social media platforms to be almost entirely governed by AI. Every video you see on TikTok is directly determined by AI ranking algorithms, optimized to deliver content that keeps you on the app.

Not to mention, TikTok has very, very smart AI: it learns from you quickly as you use it, serving up content completely customized to your interests.

TikTok also relies exclusively on AI to initially analyze videos uploaded to the platform (though humans may enter the review process later).

How do social media marketers use AI?

In every case, major social media platforms use AI to determine what users see and what they engage with.

That means understanding AI use cases is critical for any marketer or business trying to reach consumers.

In fact, AI makes social media marketing better in two big ways for social media managers:

  • Decrease costs. AI can partially or fully automate some of the more labor-intensive tasks that take up your team's time, freeing them up to focus on higher-value tasks. That includes activities like scheduling and uploading shares, pulling relevant links and hashtags, and making research into what to post easier and faster.
  • Increase revenue. AI can also dramatically enhance the efficacy of your social media content and strategy, which translates into better engagement and results from your social media investments. AI can help you better determine which posts will be most effective, which audiences are most relevant, and which channels work best. It can even write ads that are more effective for you.

That's because AI excels at extracting insights and patterns from large sets of data, including finding signals from social media platforms, advertising data, audience data, and social media performance data.

The result?

AI has a ton of powerful use cases across different social media marketing channels, objectives, and disciplines.

Examples of AI in social media

Social content creation and management

AI and intelligent automation can help you produce sharable content for each social media platform you use, and then manage the distribution of that content.

  • Create social media posts faster. An AI tool can use historical data to learn what works and what social media post to share next, then help you produce posts at scale.
  • Develop the right messages for each platform. AI can automatically develop creative and messaging in your brand voice across platforms, including on Facebook and Instagram to increase social media engagement.
  • Save time managing social. AI can analyze your audience and help you manage your work across different social channels. It can also extract more insights from social analytics to inform your work.

Social insights and social listening

A number of AI-powered tools exist to deliver insights from your brand's social media content, profiles and audience.

  • Measure brand and trends across social. AI-powered social media intelligence can help companies measure and improve brand equity, detect consumer trends, and understand target audiences.
  • Determine what to post for maximum effect. AI-powered social media tools can analyze your posts and the posts of other companies to recommend what to post, how often to post, and what creative will be most effective.
  • Find products, logos, brands in posts online using image recognition and facial recognition.
  • Find the right influencer and conduct influencer marketing at scale across social networks.

Social advertising

Artificial intelligence tools exist today that will actually write social media ads for you. The ads are optimized for clicks and conversions, thanks to AI's ability to predict at scale which language will improve results.

  • Write Facebook and Instagram ads. Today, AI can write Facebook and Instagram short-form ad copy for you.
  • Manage and improve social media advertising. AI can also analyze PPC advertising across Facebook and Instagram, then offers recommendations to improve performance based on data.

Now that you know what AI can do for social media, you might be wondering what solutions out there actually do it.

Social media AI companies

Now that you know what AI can do for social media, you might be wondering what solutions out there actually do it.

Persado

Persado's AI automatically learns your brand voice, then writes like your brand on Facebook and Instagram. 

Go to Vendor Website

Socialbakers

Socialbakers uses AI to power social influencer discovery, audience analysis, and to manage social media activities across channels.

Go to Vendor Website

Lately

Lately uses AI to produce social media messages at scale from your content, learning what works best over time.

Go to Vendor Website

Linkfluence

Linkfluence leverages AI to help companies detect consumer trends across social media channels.

Go to Vendor Website

Cortex

Cortex uses artificial intelligence to determine what social media posts work best and what creative will be most effective.

Go to Vendor Website

Phrasee

Phrasee uses advanced AI and machine learning to automatically write Facebook and Instagram ads for you in your brand voice.

Go to Vendor Website

WordStream

WordStream's AI manages paid ad spend across Facebook and Instagram, helping you build more efficient and effective campaigns.

Go to Vendor Website

How is AI changing social media?

The examples and information above all point to one conclusion:

AI has really changed social media.

Social media platforms now rely on AI to do, well, everything. And social media marketers now use AI to decrease costs and increase revenue across many different activities.

But are these changes good or bad?

The answer depends on where AI is being applied—and how.

Benefits of AI in social media

AI in social media offers social media platforms obvious benefits.

They are able to target content and ads with a precision that was previously impossible. In turn, this increases revenue because people spend more time on their platforms and click on more ads.

AI also helps social media companies combat hard problems around content moderation that would otherwise be difficult to solve—a development that protects both platforms and users alike.

For diehard users, AI is also helpful. After all, you're looking to be engaged on a social media platform, so receiving more content you like benefits you.

Not to mention, users are also consumers, and consumers benefit when they're served relevant ads for products they actually want to buy.

For social media marketers, AI helps them capture huge efficiencies in their work creating social campaigns. It also helps them achieve far better performance thanks to AI's ability to precisely target consumers and predict outcomes.

Disadvantages of AI in social media

But of course AI in social media has downsides.

Facebook is a high-profile example of this.

According to a whistleblower, the company's AI algorithms actively contributed to the spread of misinformation, division, and hate because the AI and humans at Facebook prioritized maximum engagement. This had very real, and very negative, mental and physical effects on users.

According to the same whistleblower, Instagram's content (selected by algorithms) caused young girls to have negative feelings about body image.

In many cases, there are examples of AI that is specifically designed to maximize engagement among users. And the most engagement often comes from divisive and polarizing content that causes outrage.

This can cause problems for social media marketers, too. 

In one scenario, AI failures at major social media platforms mean that your brand's content could show up next to hate speech or inappropriate content—damaging you in the process.

In another, marketers themselves may be tempted to use AI tools that maximize engagement for their own campaigns, further perpetuating a cycle of using polarization to cut through the noise.

About Mike Kaput

Mike Kaput is Chief Content Officer at Marketing AI Institute.

  • Connect with Mike Kaput
Disclosure: Marketing AI Institute writes about and recommends AI-powered marketing and sales technology. In all cases, content and recommendations are independent and objective. In some cases, Marketing AI Institute may have business relationships with companies mentioned, which may include financial compensation, affiliate compensation, or payment in kind for products or services. View a list of Institute partners here and MAICON sponsors here.