Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Social Media Marketers?
Marketing Social Media

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Social Media Marketers?

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In a press release last week, Boston-based artificial intelligence (AI) company Cortex announced it’s coming out of a “stealth round” of funding with half-a-million dollars and the revolutionary goal of providing marketers with AI-based tools for learning and optimizing their social media marketing efforts.

It sounds like something out of science fiction: Cortex claims its service can improve social media ROI by 400 percent using a “consolidation of tools, automation of redundant work, and by adding data to a currently unscientific practice.” This arrives as a slap in the face to many current SaaS programs for social marketers, like the popular Hootsuite, which rely on analytical and organizational approaches to improve social media.

Brennan White, CEO of Cortex, views these “multi-step” approaches to be too time-consuming. “Our average customer has seen a 400 percent increase in engagement and seven hours per user, per week of time saved,” claims White. “We’re making marketing less intrusive and more enjoyable.”

What many marketers (and certainly most consumers) don’t realize, however, is artificial intelligence is already an integral part of their social media experience. Seemingly simple functions, like automatically tagging faces or determining which stories appear in a News Feed, have consistently put Facebook at the forefront of AI for social media. In fact, Facebook has begun hosting an “open-source” platform for AI researchers and theorists to constantly improve the way AI impacts the social media experience.

Programmer at work

While AI currently exists in tandem with traditional analytics efforts, this research has put Facebook in direct competition with Google, a company that has poured massive amounts of funding into AI research. Just two weeks ago, Google published a paper challenging Facebook’s DeepFace—the AI software used for facial recognition on Facebook—with its own FaceNet, which Google claims is already 3 percent more effective.

For now, many of the conversations surrounding AI and social media marketing remain confined to scholarly articles, written in a vocabulary that necessitates a doctorate in computer science. But this doesn’t mean marketers should be unaware of the impact this has on their efforts. Companies like Cortex promise tools that are extremely attractive for marketers and can certainly improve efficiency, but only time will tell whether this new approach sacrifices personability for efficiency.

In the meantime, two things should be important for marketers to keep in mind. First, the field of artificial intelligence is constantly changing, so keeping an eye on research is a good idea. But secondly, and most importantly, tools should only ever be a means to an end for the primary goal of a social media marketer: knowing your audience. In this regard, there will never be a complete substitute for remaining personally engaged.

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