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When most digital marketers hear the terms “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning,” they naturally think of Hollywood films about super-intelligent robots or computers powered by AI. As a result, they might assume AI couldn’t possibly make them better at social media marketing. But that would be a mistake, because AI has already shown remarkable promise at helping brands make sense of the hundreds of thousands of conversations happening each day on social media.
The basics of AI and machine learning
In order to understand how AI and machine learning can supercharge your social media marketing, you first have to understand what they are, how they are being used today, and what possible applications they might have in the future. AI is simply a highly sophisticated algorithm that can be optimized to perform certain activities that are characteristic of human intelligence. Netflix, for example, uses AI to recommend movies for you. Facebook uses AI to spot faces in images that you upload to the social network. And both Siri and Alexa use AI to understand what you are trying to ask them.
Machine learning is a more specialized form of AI that involves teaching computers how to learn, usually by giving computers huge data sets, and letting the computers come up with a generalized set of rules to make sense of that data. With the right machine learning algorithms, you can teach computers to recognize the most valuable or important conversations taking place online, or to understand when a new trend is starting to bubble to the surface.
New insights from current social media data
The reason why AI is getting so much buzz these days in social media circles is because it is simply impossible for a single person (or a single brand team) to keep track of everything happening on social media each day. Instead of assigning a single person on your marketing team the task of monitoring brand conversations all day, why not assign an AI-powered computer? And instead of guessing or make “gut instinct” decisions about the marketing messages that are generating the most engagement online, why not ask your friendly AI?
At the very least, AI (and machine learning) can help to generate much more accurate insights from all the data that you are collecting. An AI program, for example, might be able to glean some really interesting insights into how to boost the open rates for your email marketing campaign, thereby helping you optimize your campaign success. Or, an AI program could do a much better job of helping you divide up your overall marketing campaign spending – and it might even come up with some recommendations for a “target customer” that you and your team never even considered.
Predicting the social media future with AI?
Where AI really gets exciting is when it comes to predicting the future. While even the smartest AI-powered computer can’t actually tell you with 100% certainty what will happen tomorrow, it can give you a lot of insights into which marketing campaigns have the highest probability of performing best. Simply feed an AI program all the data that you have on your customer base, and then test out a few different messages or taglines. The AI will crunch all the data for you and let you know.
But just remember – the value of any good AI is only as good as the data you are supplying. So now’s the time to be tightening up, scrubbing, and calibrating all your social media data so that it can be used to deliver effective recommendations and insights about how to optimize your social media marketing.