It seems you can’t go anywhere without hearing the words artificial intelligence (AI). Even South Park has taken its shot at parodying the technology (while also demonstrating its immense disruptive potential). And the release of GPT-4 will only raise the volume.
Social media platforms have been at the forefront of the AI wave from the beginning, in ways you might not even realize. From automated bidding and campaign budget optimization (CBO) to dynamic creative and TikTok’s For You Page (FYP), any features that leverage automation, algorithms, or machine learning are AI.
Although search engines like Microsoft Bing and Google have grabbed most of the attention around AI in recent months, social has now entered the chat in a big way.
As consumer awareness and curiosity around AI has risen since the massively popular release of ChatGPT in November 2022, several social platforms have made high-profile announcements about AI: Snap is already creating AI “friends” for users to interact with, while Meta’s Advantage+ looks to leverage machine learning to optimize campaigns and deliver results on the ad side of the platform.
It’s too early to tell who will win or lose in this new technological arms race, but there is one thing we know for sure: AI programs and applications are quickly becoming more sophisticated, and the role of AI in social media marketing and on the consumer side will continue to evolve and grow.
How is the role of AI in social media changing?
Creative is at the forefront of the AI revolution; as AI models get better at processing different types of media like text, images, and video, marketers need to explore new avenues for creative ideation, opportunities for optimization, and processes that maximize efficiency. That could include everything from drafting social copy and product descriptions to ideating creative briefs and scripts.
Generative AI uses prompts and inputs to make something “new,” like a piece of content, social copy, images, videos, songs, 3D models, or computer code. Today’s generative AIs are mostly useful as a jumping-off point for people in a creative rut and require an immense amount of human oversight.
AIs like ChatGPT or Jasper AI that produce text assets are the most advanced generative AIs at the present, and the release of GPT-4 represents a major step forward, opening up the door for more complex, longer-form content generation. From the social side, these text AIs can provide net-new campaign copy, endless iterations on that copy for different ads, and more.
Generative AI build for images, like Dall-e and Midjourney, uses prompts or existing photos and videos to create completely new images. The tech is already fairly advanced; right now we’ve mostly seen users engaging with the tech to create new images and proudly display them across their social feeds.
Since all generative AI technology is still being refined, it’s not quite at the point where it can reliably generate usable assets without a lot of human involvement. It’s also worth noting that there are also certain types of creative, like short-form video and influencer content, that don’t play to the current strengths of generative AI.
AI has other creative applications for social media; it can parse and tag creative assets for thousands of attributes that it can then ladder into organized word clouds that help with creative analysis and optimization.
Further, AI can use engagement data that correlates with key aspects of static assets or moments in video assets to understand where interest peaks and valleys, then make recommendations on how to recut or edit assets to increase the likelihood of success. Basically, no matter how you look at it, the integration of AI can act as a time-saving tool for all aspects of marketing.
How will AI integrations impact social media platforms in the future?
On February 27th, Meta announced that it was revamping its AI unit to introduce generative tech into its main consumer products. They specifically highlighted exploring experiences with text (like WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video experiences.
That’s likely just the beginning of the next phase of social media marketing: the powered by AI era. We’re still in the early stages of figuring out how AI will fit into all the different social platforms. But as big tech players and ad platforms work overtime to get a competitive advantage by developing new AI offerings, AI as a whole will become more accessible and familiar to consumers and help brands deliver a more personalized experience.
When it comes to the future of social media ad buying, you’re going to see more automation, more pre-configured or out-of-the-box campaign configurations, and more dynamic solutions that remove minute data analysis and manual levers to achieve more efficiency and deliver better optimization with media investments.
But don’t expect it to be entirely smooth sailing; pay attention to the new challenges that will crop up with rise of AI. It’s just as easy to leverage AI for nefarious purposes by leveraging deep fakes and similar applications that could make it even more difficult to discern between what is real and what is not. That’s not that far in the future; there are AI photo studios and modeling agencies, like the Holland-based Deep Agency, that allow you to hire completely AI-generated models and avatars right now.
Just recently reports surfaced that a ChatGPT chrome extension, called “Quick access to ChatGPT,” is actually a form of malware designed to hack into Facebook Business accounts when installed.
In the future, you will likely need to build out specific policies and guardrails around AI usage and best practices around safety and security for both your brand and users.
How should marketers prepare for AI-driven changes in social?
The most important thing you should do is get familiar with how these tools work:
- Experiment and play around with different tools so that you can get a feel for how you might be able to use them in your marketing strategy.
- Approach it as a trial-and-error process to get better at using the tech, especially when it comes to inputs: what kind of prompts result in the best possible assets? How can you adjust those inputs?
- Take particular note of platforms that haven’t yet reached maturity that could deliver a competitive advantage or help fill a gap in the future, and watch that space. Early adopter advantage is real!
Baseline knowledge and working understanding of even the most basic applications will go a long way to prepare you for a future where these tools and systems are integrated more deeply into our personal and professional lives.
AI will disrupt the social media landscape, and it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later. Right now, its primary value is as a complement to current roles, like social media managers, coordinators, or strategists, that can help drive new efficiencies in both creative production and campaign optimization.
All platforms need to evolve to survive, and advertisers are going to spend money on those that attract the right audiences, leverage technology to make campaigns more effective and efficient, and, most importantly, deliver strong business performance. AI has the potential to have a massive effect on all three.