By John Lahr
Interest in artificial Intelligence’s impact on content marketing is heating up as the technology’s capabilities are beginning to be understood and more broadly implemented by marketers.
One of the applications generating the most excitement and investment is AI tools for social media due to their huge benefits to marketers, as well as their large growth potential. Since investment in the space expected to grow 300% according to Forrester, there will inevitably be a myriad of options for marketers to choose from moving forward.
Marketers are well aware leveraging these powerful tools to their advantage will be key to their success in the future, but with so many tools available and every company under the sun claiming to use AI, where does one begin evaluating which solutions are best?
This guide will break down the social media marketing landscape, what solutions are out there and where in your workflow they can provide the most leverage, and how to separate real innovative technology from those using AI as a marketing buzzword.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” More practically, it’s the science of quantifying and replicating the processes of human intelligence. It is not a single technology, but rather a collection of technologies such as:
Natural Language Processing / Generation: A computer’s ability to understand language and write or respond to prompts the same way a human does.
Neural Networks: Computer systems modeled on the way human brains think.
Machine Learning: A machine’s ability to learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.
AI solutions are comprised of some or all of these technologies working together to find patterns and connections within massive data sets (also called Big Data,) and apply these patterns to perform tasks and processes at a speed, scale, and level of efficiency not possible before.
When evaluating working with any marketing technology vendor it is critical to understand where in their stack they have implemented AI tools, the level of automation they provide, and most importantly how those tools will deliver actionable insights and increased results. Within social media marketing, current AI tools are delivering value in the realms of strategy, content creation, and deployment.
Success in social media marketing starts with a strong understanding of your audience, your competition and their efforts to reach the same or similar audience, and what kinds of content best inspires that audience to take action in ways that move the needle for your business.
AI tools in this stage of the marketing process are best used for informing your understanding of your audience, competitors, and content positioning. Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to create the most impact based on data, not hunches.
Of all the AI / Big Data tools, Social Listening are some of the most common and well understood in the marketing community. Social Listening is different from social monitoring in that monitoring is simply seeing what people are saying about their company, where as social listening tracks conversations around specific phrases, words, or brands, and then leveraging that data to find opportunities or create specialized content for specific audiences. These capabilities are a powerful way to interact with audiences in real time, as well as tailor your voice to better connect with them.
Tools like Sprout, and Mention track and report these insights and alerts you when important things are happening around your company or industry, and Cortex takes this a step further by baking these insights into your content recommendations.
Some of these products allow you to track industries, communities, competitors, and influencers for a more complete picture of your landscape. The most effective ones will give you actionable data about your audience and the other players that can inform your messaging, help you respond to opportunities, and inform what content to make and when.
Tracking and analyzing competitors is one of the areas of strategic planning where Artificial Intelligence has made the biggest improvement. Without AI’s ability to scrape and analyze massive data sets any analysis on competitors social profiles is either highly subjective and qualitative, or manually grueling.