The social algorithm: AI & social media

The estimated growth of the global market for artificial intelligence in social media is set to be remarkable, with projections indicating a surge from $600 million USD in 2018 to $2.2 billion USD in 2023. This growth represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of the social media landscape. Read on to uncover how artificial intelligence is profoundly reshaping social media platforms, revolutionizing user experiences, and unlocking new possibilities for marketers. 

An experience defined by AI algorithms

Today’s social media user experience is deeply intertwined with the seamless integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. In fact, AI has brought about a transformative shift in how users engage, consume content, and establish connections with others.  

One platform that proudly highlights the pervasive influence of AI in its operations is LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn itself, “In one way or another, AI powers everything at LinkedIn.” A prime example of this is the platform’s strategic integration of AI within its career personalization tool, enabling it to tailor job recommendations to match members’ interests. The result? A 30% increase in job applications submitted on LinkedIn.  

When one peers behind the curtain of how AI operates in the realm of social media, it becomes evident that AI algorithms play a crucial role in delivering the personalization aspect. AI algorithms meticulously analyze user-provided information derived from user activities to offer platforms valuable insight into users’ preferences and interests. These AI-derived insights empower platforms to effectively identify content that captivates users, resulting in significantly enhanced user engagement.  

It’s important to highlight the incentives that drive platforms to create a more engaging user experience. As the user base of a platform grows and users spend an increasing number of hours on it, the value of advertising space naturally rises. This heightened value attracts greater demand from advertisers, resulting in enhanced revenue potential for the platform. Therefore, the symbiotic relationship between AI and social media channels serves not only to enrich the user experience but also to drive platform profitability through advertising revenue. It enables a mutually beneficial cycle where user engagement, advertising demand, and platform profitability thrive together. 

AI unleashed: orchestrating social media success  

It is not only social media platforms that are leveraging AI to enhance user experiences and increase engagement: brands across diverse industries are embracing AI’s social media marketing capabilities. 

In fact, the impact of AI-powered tools on social media advertising is transforming the marketing industry. A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Sprout Social reveals that 90% of leaders in social media marketing, customer care, and communications believe effective use of social media data is crucial for success, and 97% of them recognize AI and machine learning as powerful tools in optimizing data analysis efficiency. 

But how exactly can social media marketers tap into AI’s analytical capabilities to enhance their strategies? 

Enter AI ad optimization, a cutting-edge approach that assists marketers in identifying the most effective ad variations and strategies through extensive data analysis and testing. By meticulously comparing the performance of different ad elements such as headlines, images, and calls-to-action, AI algorithms can identify winning combinations that yield the best social media results. McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, recognized the value of this approach and employed AI to create hyper-targeted ads for its social media campaigns.

The implementation of these new ads led to an impressive 27% surge in sales, showcasing the tangible effect of AI-driven advertising on business growth.  

The strategic use of user data and behavior analysis extends beyond the realm of crafting effective ads. It also enables businesses to precisely target ads to the most relevant and receptive individuals, reaching the right people at the right time with personalized and compelling messages. This AI-powered approach increases conversion rates while reducing minimizing wasted ad impressions on audiences that are unlikely to be interested in the product or service being promoted. Optimizing ad content and audience targeting eliminates wasteful spending on ineffective ads and allows businesses to focus their resources on the strategies and audience segments that deliver the highest return on investment.  

Once an ad is crafted and reaches its target audience, the subsequent phase in the marketing journey involves evaluating its performance. In this regard as well, AI continues to emerge as a vital ally. It offers real-time monitoring of ad performance, providing marketers with up-to-the-minute insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns. By constantly analyzing key metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and engagement levels, AI insights empower marketers to swiftly identify underperforming advertisements and campaigns and make timely adjustments to achieve optimal results. 

All that glitters is not gold  

While AI presents tremendous opportunities for businesses, it is crucial to acknowledge its limitations and ethical considerations. One of the prominent concerns surrounding AI in social media is algorithmic bias. Due to the reliance on large datasets and complex algorithms, there is a potential for biases to be embedded in AI systems. These biases can result in the unjust treatment of particular groups of individuals, perpetuating discrimination and inequality. For example, if an AI algorithm is trained on biased data, it may inadvertently amplify stereotypes or favor certain demographic groups, leading to disparities in access, opportunities, and representation. 

Another significant issue is the lack of comprehensive regulatory frameworks and ethical guidelines to govern AI technologies in social media. The rapid pace of technological advancement has outpaced the development of these frameworks, leaving AI developers and social media companies to navigate complex ethical and legal considerations on their own.  

To address these challenges, collaborative efforts are needed. Governments, industry leaders, researchers, and civil society organizations must come together to establish guidelines, policies, and standards that promote responsible and ethical AI use in social media. This includes efforts to increase transparency in AI algorithms, promote diversity in AI development teams, and implement mechanisms for ongoing monitoring, auditing, and addressing algorithmic biases. By tackling these challenges, AI can continue to drive positive transformation in social media, enhance user experiences and empower marketers. 

Thomas Jeanneney

Written by: Thomas Jeanneney, Director of Pixel Alliance & Seven Circles

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