Artificial intelligence (AI) may not take down the human race like it does in the movies, but it is primed to change the world as we know it. The true impact of AI has yet to be felt, but it's no longer just movie magic... it's reality.

There are real implications and benefits to its use, and marketing will be one of the many disciplines affected the most: 47% of companies agree that those who don't invest in AI are at risk of being pushed out by competitors, according to Forbes Insights.

For Marketing, this evolving technology will open doors for automating processes and delivering more personalized experiences across platforms—including ones we haven't even dreamed of yet.

Fully 60% of enterprise marketers said they plan to use AI in their content marketing this year, and 32% said marketing technologies must integrate AI into their workflow, according to a recent report from martech company BrightEdge. They voiced that AI would help them gain a better understanding of their customers, increase productivity and save time, and create better performing content.

Though we've yet to see the full capabilities of AI—and many marketers are still adjusting to the learning curve—some brands are already using this powerful tool to engage their audiences on social media and so gain an edge on the competition.

Here's how.

Placing Personalized Social Feeds on Their Websites

Some brands are using AI to bridge the gap between social engagement and e-commerce. Cosmetics brand ColourPop, for example, wanted to drive its 5 million Instagram followers to its product and checkout pages, where they can then make a purchase. It set up an algorithm-based feed of social posts customized for each Instagram user right on its mobile site.

"The biggest thing about mobile shopping right now is if you don't know what you're looking for, discovering that is really difficult," said Nate Dierks, ColourPop's director of technology. "This has given me a lot of thought about the purpose of the mobile website: It needs to be just a stripped-down discovery page that shows you what other people are looking at, what's popular, what's about to sell out, and what you should know about this brand."

By placing personalized social posts on its website, ColourPop is able to build an intuitive and comprehensive customer experience, making the research and buying process more seamless for social audiences.

Finding Social Influencers Among Their Audiences

Almost 90% of marketers say influencer marketing can positively impact how consumers feel about a brand, and 70% say they think influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2018, according to eMarketer, yet over 70% of those marketers say finding the right influencers for their campaigns is still a challenge.

That's where AI can help. Brands can use AI to scan their social audiences for influencers who are leading the conversation and creating high-quality content. Kia, for instance, used AI to find influencers for its Super Bowl campaign. The car brand was able to tap 100 social stars to help share Kia's message during the game.

By automating this process, Kia didn't have to waste time manually scouring social conversations for valuable players. Kia quickly found the best influencers for its brand and audience, and it launched a multiplatform social campaign for one of the biggest social events of the year.

Deploying Social Image Recognition

AI software can now recognize people and objects in images with over 99% accuracy. This technology can be extremely valuable in marketers' hands. It can be used to gauge customers' in-store visits and social engagements, and match those activities to create a comprehensive customer profile. Marketers can then deliver more personalized experiences—such as discounts and welcome messages—once customers enter their stories.

Millions of users are on visual platforms like Snapchat and Instagram—and they are sharing billions of posts each day. It can be tough to comb through that content and identify potential buyers. For example, people may post pictures of your products but not include your brand or product name in the caption. If you're tracking only keywords, you may never see such posts—and miss out on identifying and understanding interested customers.

With AI-based image recognition, brands can expand their social listening beyond just text, and they can access valuable data to better understand their audiences.

AI and Social Media Join Forces

AI may seem intimidating and enigmatic, but for marketers it really points to one major opportunity: data. AI-powered tools can save time and resources by automating processes and surfacing more data for your brand.

Marketers can then use that data to accomplish a range of goals, such as finding influencers, delivering more personalized experiences, and closing the loop between social engagements and online or in-store conversions, ultimately driving business.

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image of Paul Herman

Paul Herman is ‎VP, Product and Solutions Enablement Group, at Sprinklr, a unified customer experience management platform for enterprises. He has over 20 years of global experience in helping companies drive digital innovation.

LinkedIn: Paul Herman