AI in social media: Benefits, disadvantages and the future

AI in social media: Benefits, disadvantages and the future
Natalie Luckham
Natalie LuckhamNaturally Social

Posted: Thu 28th Dec 2023

You’d have to be pretty disconnected if you weren’t seeing or hearing about AI this year in various guises. From conferences and podcasts to articles, adverts and updates from social media platforms themselves, it’s everywhere.

Earlier this year, practically every single social media channel and third-party platform (think Hootsuite, Later and Planable) pushed AI add-ons to their service offering sooner than they wanted to… Because things were happening just too fast to keep up with!

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, the magic write tools and the image edit options are an absolute stroke of genius if (and it’s a big if) the people using them understand how to do so properly.

The team and I've been exploring AI since March 2023. We came away from Social Media Marketing World having heard about its potential and seeding the technology up close. We’re very close to publishing our own AI policy and code of conduct to outline how we’re using it.

Here’s what we’re thinking!

Social media isn’t just about cat videos and #ThrowbackThursdays anymore. It’s getting a turbo-boost from AI and so are the people who use it. Not only that but, suddenly, those without experience in social media can create content too! So, what are the benefits? Disadvantages? And, what’s the future?

Benefits of AI in social media

If you just need a nudge to get the ideas flowing, particularly if you don’t work in a big team of creatives, then using AI can be a godsend. This was the starting point for us when we embarked on using the free version of ChatGPT.

If you’re time-poor and you need to repurpose content to make sure it works as hard as possible for you, then AI tools like Lumen5 can turn blog posts into share-worthy videos in minutes.

Speaking of video content, we’ve been playing with some very cool software lately that’s making our long-form video content a joy! We unsubscribed from our Premiere Pro account as a result! With AI, user interfaces are becoming so intuitive and easy to follow, that virtually anyone can create good content or satisfactory content at least!

Because that’s the thing, right? You cannot and should not remove the human element from AI. It’s crucial to apply your critical thinking and experience to the work that’s being generated. After all, AI is based on so much data and content across the internet that you have to ask if it is 100% correct. Is it unique? An original? This is the conversation happening with IP lawyers across the US and UK right now and is one for you to discuss with your teams too from an ethics and editorial standpoint.

Examples of AI in social media

If paid advertising has been a dark art to you before and you're keen to learn more about it, then meet your new teacher and mentor!

The ‘recommended best time to post’ features in your favourite scheduling apps – that’s AI in action! Algorithms and machine learning use behaviours and audience signals to predict the best times for your content to be shared.

Automating actions, like auto-replies, IFTT and posting, on social media – all AI in action. Social listening, scouring the internet for content based on keywords or hashtags. That’s AI in action too! Auto captions and video subtitles? You guessed it!

AI can help brands to post at optimal times, predict trending topics and engage with audiences faster than you can say “viral”.

You see, we’re already using AI in so many ways and we know the benefits, we just may not recognise it.

We’re now in a phase of understanding and asking – how can these tools further improve my work, my fulfilment, productivity and/or profitability? That’s the gaze in which we’re looking at AI as an agency.

Disadvantages of AI

Where do you start? What do you choose? There are tons, and we mean tons, of sites using AI or offering AI options that can be overwhelming and expensive. Not only that but if the platform you’re using is built on ChatGPT and it experiences downtime, well, so is the model you’re using.

Start at the beginning and understand what problem AI is going to solve for you, then go and do your research and test.

Authenticity is also a big problem. A lot of content we’ve seen come out of AI in the social media space recently is worrying. People who may not have a marketing background or an editorial mindset, see the output of their prompt and are excited about the fact it’s there. So they simply copy and paste.

Well, guess what – it’s becoming pretty easy to spot AI content (be warned!). Think emojis at the start of every sentence, paragraph and listicle galore. Plus, a cheesy call to action at the end!

Along with originality, unconscious bias, inconsistency and risk of plagiarism to name a few, the biggest disadvantage we see is for the knowledge workers who aren’t being encouraged to explore and understand AI in the workplace.

Whether we like it or not it’s here to stay and give it six months or so and we predict that employers will be asking candidates if they have experience with AI and for them to demonstrate the quality of its output.

Future of AI in social media

It’s always difficult to predict the future of anything! Especially when technology is moving so fast.

We see the need to further explore the ethical implications of AI in social media and how we ensure a diverse community is contributing to its development. Check out what I shared earlier.

Get ready to see even more personalised content on the web, as we give, share and interact with more data than ever before and we can expect to work harder when it comes to telling brand stories and building consumer trust.

We should also expect a lot of legal battles between big tech and businesses that have had their IP used in training models where consent wasn’t given.

Lessons so far

First of all, you must become, develop, or hire editorially-minded people to operate AI tools. These people will be the new brand guardians for your content.

Be open and honest. TikTok added a button recently for disclosing AI-generated content on its platform, which is key to transparency. In a world where our social media is flooded with fake news, AI is understandably coming under attack as something that will only make this worse. While that’s for people much more powerful than us to sort and regulate, we do feel very strongly about communicating what is and isn’t AI-created.

Do not be fooled into thinking that AI will automatically save you time on social media. The output still needs fact-checking, evaluating and reviewing.

Top tip: It is ALL about the prompt. Trust us when we say "write an Instagram post about our new product" will not be good enough. Try asking AI what it needs from you to generate the best output.

Relevant resources

Natalie Luckham
Natalie LuckhamNaturally Social
Social media consultancy based in Wiltshire. Passionate about authentic, creative content. We're on a mission to educate, enable and elevate others through our social media mentoring and management services.

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