The Ultimate guide to AI and social media: Why the revolution will be different to what the “experts” say

In May 1876, Alexander Graham Bell delivered the first public demonstration of the telephone to the world, standing in front of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was left “surprised to be greeted by a hearty round of applause (which was) an unusual thing (that had never) happened before (at the academy).” Over 140 years later, you are unlikely to get such a reaction to using a phone which is really unfortunate. I would love it. Yet, far from making you feel like Bono, using the phone has become so ordinary you may as well be discussing your favourite accounting software. This is likely to become the future of Artificial intelligence (AI) and social media. Just for clarity I mean it will become an ordinary tool used for a variety of efficiency reasons rather than Instagram will turn into SAP. Now, that would be brilliant!

The mere mention of AI and social media today can generate more excitement than Taylor Swift moonwalking on the Oprah Winfrey show whilst singing a cover of “Bad.” A future of AI generated content and analytics is prophesied by many in the marketing industry. Yet, such an idea is misleading at best. At worst, moving towards such a future, without understanding the consequences can damage your social media account and brand. 

We need to ensure we are careful with how we approach AI in social media. Getting so far caught up in the AI hype that you make spectators at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra look like Swifties, could lead to devastating consequences for your social media accounts. Therefore, you will need to understand how to grow your follower base organically. Yet, the good news is that if you follow the correct steps you can get more fans on platforms like Instagram without using AI. This article will explain everything you need to know about AI in social media, how it is being used, how it should be used and the pitfalls to stay clear of. The benefits have been well documented, but the consequences have not.

A brief overview of AI in social media marketing

From the origins of social media, whilst most people were figuring out how to poke someone on Facebook, social media platforms and marketers have been looking to find ways to engage audiences. The next frontier is AI.

However, to truly understand the role of AI in social media, we need to break it down into two distinct components:

  • How social media companies use AI
  • How content creators can use AI on social media

Every social media platform utilises AI for a variety of reasons from suggesting relevant content and accounts to moderating interactions. Yet for each AI advancement on social media platforms, comes a reaction from marketers and content creators. How can we beat the platforms’ AI or more specifically, its algorithms? Moreover, can we leverage AI to beat that algorithm?

In return, we have seen AI social media tools rapidly appear on the market, all promising a magic trick to growth, engagement and fortune. Yet, as we will see whilst leveraging many of these tools can be beneficial, they are not the answer to growing a loyal online following. The answer is much more complex.

How social media companies use AI today

Before we outline how content creators can leverage AI on social media, it’s worth assessing the use of AI by social media companies. Today, most social media platforms use a combination of the following:

  • Content recommendations: AI is used to analyse the type of content and accounts you enjoy and make recommendations. This is based on several factors from what you have viewed, and viewing time to what you have engaged in from liking to commenting. 
  • Behaviour patterns: Platforms like Facebook utilise AI to predict who you are and what you like. This is based on the different actions you take. For example, it will include both demographic and psychographic profiling. This can be used to provide further recommendations for targeting ads.
  • Trending content: What content goes viral and what doesn’t remains a mystery for many. Yet, AI is being used to understand what content is likely to be effective in a particular niche. Understanding that niche is therefore critical.
  • Trending topics: Some content goes viral because it is newsworthy. Think about X. Ever wondered how they display trending hashtags? They use AI to see what people are talking about in real time.
  • Computer vision and image analysis: The use of AI to perform facial recognition. This enables social media companies to offer their users shortcuts like tagging a friend. It has also been suggested by some experts, that platforms like TikTok also use it to scrape identifiers like our age, sex and ethnicity. This fuels their ability to target Ads.
  • Spam: We all know, that social media also has a dark side. Yet, platforms like Facebook, do use AI to filter for spam and harmful material.

It also offers AI-powered tools like filters, voice recognition and chatbots to its users. These can be seen below.

How users can leverage AI in social media in a safe and helpful way

Firstly, let us clarify a key point. Let’s not fear everything related to AI on social media and beyond. When the telephone was still in its infancy people were scared to stand near one during thunderstorms because they may get hit by lightning. Others were petrified ghosts may magically move through the telephone lines. Maybe I am just lucky, but I don’t think either of these things have ever happened.

AI has the power to change how we engage on social media. It’s just the outcome is slightly – boring! You are probably now thinking, how can creating AI generated videos be boring? Imagine creating an Instagram video of a Penguin wearing slippers, walking up Mount Everest on his hands! It will go viral. Or, using AI to outsmart Instagram algorithms to identify a foolproof social media strategy that makes every video you create viral-worthy which leads to thousands of new followers.

Unfortunately, if you believe this, you have been sucked into the hype. You are the person who makes Swifties at a Tayor Swift concert look like a librarian (sorry librarians). Google has already started to crack down on AI generated content. The social media giants won’t be far behind. The reason is simple. Humans connect with humans. A platform which only promotes AI content goes against their basic mission. For example, Facebook’s “mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

But, what about all that content that is AI created that is going viral on social media? It’s true, that AI content is getting attention. But, for how long? Currently, it’s new and a novelty. But what happens when we become accustomed to it? After all, when was the last time, you passed a television set in your local electronics store and fell over in excitement? Wow, there are moving people in a box! You don’t, because it’s not a novelty anymore. So, how can you use AI today on social media?

In-app video editing

Okay, this may sound contradictory to what was said earlier. Many platforms offer AI-assisted content creation. Great, so what’s the problem you may think? Let’s just get an AI to create fake people and videos. Imagine how efficient that would be! Yet, doing so is a mistake and is a misunderstanding of what is available. 

The in-app AI content tools have a key difference from those tools that use AI to completely generate new content. For example, Snap offers filters that move with your face. It’s helping you to create enhanced content. Over at Meta, there are plans to release AI editing tools that can change your background to apply visual styles. Yet, as Meta points out, transparency is important when it comes to AI content. Therefore images created with AI on Meta platforms will be watermarked “to reduce the chances of people mistaking them for human-generated content.” 

So, in each of these cases, you still need to create the content. Moreover, from our experience, people still want to have a human connection on social media. It’s what makes the platform so fantastic to engage audiences as scale. Completely replacing your content with AI-created content is likely to fail over the long term. 

AI social media analytics

There are an increasing number of AI analytics tools available that provide insights into social media performance. Leveraging past performance of different accounts, they provide great insights into how others have grown and drive engagement. These are useful to help you delve into specific accounts and learn more about what works for your audience.

Yet, be warned. If you find a platform that promises to evaluate the likelihood of you going viral – run away. The truth is none of these platforms can truly understand what social media algorithms are looking for. And how can you expect a platform built by a handful of developers to outsmart the vast array of technical staff employed by companies like Google or Meta? You can’t!

It’s better for you to invest your money in consulting with social media experts who truly understand your niche. 

Influencer research

AI tools to identify influencers based on multiple metrics are now available. With these tools, you can find influencers within your niche and get an understanding of their engagement and social reach. 

Social Listening across social media platforms.

Social listening enables you to understand what people are saying across social media platforms and beyond. It’s a great tool to perform sentiment analysis and determine if people like your brand. Moreover, it helps you to understand your user’s concerns and get unfiltered feedback. This can help you to grow online as you can create content directly addressing their issues. Yet, this type of AI is especially useful for bigger brands who get thousands if not millions of mentions across social media.

For smaller companies, social listening can still be a great tool to use. However, it should be utilised for understanding your marketplace.

AI for social media strategy and planning

From a strategy perspective, AI analytics, as discussed above can provide invaluable insights. But only if you know what you are looking for. This can take time and resources to build up your competency. But, expecting Ai to transform your social media strategy by asking ChatGPT to outline a marketing plan is pointless. Any social media strategy that such AI platforms provide will be generic and contain such brilliant insights like “create valuable content.” Thanks, Einstein, why didn’t I think of that? 

However, there are AI social media tools that can help automate boring, repetitive tasks. These are great for large enterprises wanting to jump on different platforms.  They can automate and schedule posts, log all your insights in one place and outline when your users are online. This is great for scaling your social media presence.

However, before investing in such AI social media tools, hoping to scale and draw in millions of followers, first ask yourself the following question. Do you understand the differences in the platforms and what users want? If not, you will need to learn or hire an expert. It takes time and each platform has its own unique characteristics. Scaling is for those who know how to adapt and target their content.

Before using AI in social media you need to understand where you are in your social journey

Using AI Voice tools on social media

Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have adopted AI-powered voice recognition. This enables users to transcribe videos. It is likely that this also provides the platform semantic meaning to ensure it delivers the right content to its intended users. This ensures your content is accessible to the many rather than the few, which can help with engagement and reach. 

Using social media AI-powered chatbots

To deliver great customer service you may want to consider looking at AI-powered chatbots. For example, Meta AI mimics human interaction and is accessible across their suite of social media apps. The chatbot can provide information about your services or answer questions your users and customers may have. This is great if you want to ensure speed of service and improve customer service. But it should not be used as a substitute to actually engage with your users on a human level.

Dangers of using AI on social media

If you are still not convinced, that AI isn’t the complete answer to all your social media concerns, consider how social media companies make money. It’s based on advertising.  In 2023, Meta alone generated $131bn in ad revenue, making up the overwhelming majority of their sales.

Now, consider how consumer trends have changed over recent years. More than ever, people want to buy from people. Not companies that are faceless. That’s why LinkedIn reach is significantly better for individuals rather than company updates. Furthermore, it’s why social media is so important for businesses today. In a study led by Oracle, they found that 80% of consumers make purchases directly influenced by social media content, while 37% place more trust in social media influencers than in brands. So, if social media platforms become engulfed by AI content, what will happen to that trust? It will likely evaporate and so will their revenues. That’s a path no social media company will tolerate.  Therefore, rather than racing down the path of AI generated content, stop and think. You are better investing in developing authenticity and a voice. So, the question is, where should you avoid AI on social media?

AI social media content creation and posts

Using AI to create content and hoping to develop a loyal following is like going on a first date with a bag over your head and refusing to tell your companion your name. Do you think you will get another date? Clearly not. More importantly, I hope not.

So, why do you think AI generated content will work? In the short term, you may get results, especially as social media platforms grapple with how to identify AI content. Yet, in the long term, social media platforms will get better and start punishing such content. Google has already started, so why won’t Meta, LinkedIn, TikTok and the rest? At best, you run the risk of your account getting little views. At worst, you could end up with your account being shadow-banned or taken down completely. That’s not great after investing so much time, effort and money in growing your social media audience.

Even if you are willing to take such risks, consider the reputation damage it will do to your business when it’s discovered your account uses AI. You will quickly lose trust which is critical when building an online community.

However, you could be transparent about your use of AI generated content. But, how will you monetise such an account? Most likely the people who follow you will be interested in seeing cool AI generated content. So, unless you are a platform selling such tools, it’s unlikely to be a recipe for long-term success. 

So, don’t do it!

The focus should be on original content rather than AI social media posts

AI for social media captions

It’s perhaps unfair to include social media captions in the list of use cases where you shouldn’t use AI. Ai can be great if you want it to help formulate your thoughts and opinions. Yet, they should be your unique thoughts. Asking Ai to autogenerate some random thoughts about a subject means you lose your authenticity. It’s your voice that people want to follow, not something that they can find from ChatGPT or Gemini.

So, if you do use AI for social media captions, use it as an assistant. Give the Ai chatbot your unique views and ask it to formulate an eye-catching caption. Or, spend some time tailoring the Ai’s text and include your voice.

Social media growth through AI

Avoid trying to grow your social media following using AI at all costs. We have seen multiple accounts trying to use this method and all you will get are fake followers. Whilst your follower count may increase, your influence will not. It’s like trying to run for the US Presidency and speaking in front of a bunch of mannequins. You can have the oratory skills of Dr Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela combined but no matter how hard you try the mannequins won’t vote for you. 

Such AI tools will promise you the world. “Real followers” they will claim “through advanced targeting.” But ask yourself, how does this actually work? Are they running ads? Are they following other accounts? Chances are they are taking the easy option and sending you some bots.

Such AI social media tools can typically be broken down into two categories:

  • Those that sending you bots
  • Those that do follow for follow

The second of these can drive influence as they are real accounts. However, you need to be careful. social media platforms are cracking down on automated behaviour and it can lead to your account being taken down.

The best method to gain online followers is to develop content designed for a sizeable audience in a strong niche. This takes time, but the results are worth it. This is something we have done, not just for others but for ourselves.

Automate content creation from existing content

Whilst this is not strictly an issue, the outcome is unlikely to get you the results you want. Using AI to automatically generate content from other content includes using your existing:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Corporate videos

So, what’s the problem? It’s your content after all. Yet, doing this falls into the same trap many accounts fall into. You may have seen large influencers like Andrew Huberman post snippets of his podcast all over Instagram and receive thousands of views. Yet, the difference is he is one of the most influential health influencers in the world. It’s like setting up a running shoe company and copying the marketing tactics of Nike. Unless you have the budget to attract Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Jordan and Serena Williams, it won’t work. We know – Cristiano won’t return any of our calls. So, if you are reading this Cris, please call back! 

The tactics that smaller accounts must follow to grow online are vastly different. Your first focus should be on building an engaged audience, and doing so requires different methods. However, using existing content is unlikely to yield results.

What will happen in the future – the advancements in AI in social media platforms

Social media platforms are fast adopting new AI models into their platforms. Therefore, if you want to stay ahead you must pay attention. Some of the key changes will see:

VR may change social media and AI sits behind it

Virtual Reality (VR)

In 2021 Meta announced their grand plans for a Metaverse. At the most basic level, this will see the virtual and physical worlds combine. Users will be able to enter digital realms and speak to others via avatars. Yet, for such a future to occur we are likely going to need to see other hardware developments. For example, using VR to engage on social media is not ideal. So, we are most likely going to need to see advancements in AI-enabled technology via smartphones or other tools for this to become mainstream. Moreover, avatars that accurately depict users are likely going to be needed to ensure people feel connected.

Augmented Reality (AR)

This is the use of filters which are overlayed in the real world. This is likely to be the happy medium for social media companies when it comes to the use of AI. For example, you may want to create a Reel on Instagram about eating healthy on holiday. Unfortunately, it’s December and you are stuck in rainy London. So, you will be able to superimpose a beach background making it appear you are eating on the beach. Yet, this is likely to carry notifications that you have used Ai. 

AI generated content crackdown

As discussed, it’s in the interests of the social media giants to ensure people trust the platforms. Therefore, expect a wide rollout of deep fake detection on all platforms. Such technology already exists and is likely to become more advanced. 

Legitimate Authority

AI will be used on social media to detect quality accounts. This means companies like Meta will use AI to determine if you have many bot followers, how interested audiences are in your content and how likely audiences are to follow your advice. 

Digital eco-system signals

Related to authority, platforms will increasingly use AI to identify how authoritative users are on other platforms. Ai will continually observe, monitor and learn what people are doing on other platforms from Google search to various different social media platforms. This will enable them to aggregate and identify which users to prioritise and whom to give visibility to. This occurs today, although going forward this type of AI on social media will become more powerful.

What will happen in the future – the advancements in AI for social media marketers

Much of today’s AI social media tools have generated hype due to their promise of fast-tracking social media growth and engagement. Yet, our experience tells us that most if not all of these tools fail to deliver on their promises.

Moving forward, it is unlikely AI will be used directly to obtain social media followers and engagement – at least not in an effective way. Today, such AI tools do exist. They help you grow and get engagement. These can be effective if you know how to trick the social media companies’ algorithms. In our research, we have a found surprising number of accounts who have used such tactics. This includes large influential accounts, that fake their follower count and engagement which would shock many people. However, going forward, social media companies will be more effective at detecting such “growth hacks.” It’s a bit like the early days of SEO, where black hat tactics were used to circumvent Google’s algorithms. Over time, Google’s algorithms have become more sophisticated making it much more difficult. Expect the same from social media companies. They are much younger than Google and still playing catch-up. 

Getting influence requires time, patience and expertise. In that regard, it’s no different to the physical world. Why is Tom Cruise still amongst the best-paid Hollywood actors despite making his film debut in 1981? It’s because he has been selecting the right films for several decades, each growing his influence. There is no shortcut to influence, and you shouldn’t expect social media to be any different.

So, as we move forward, the use of AI is likely to be used for streamlining processes and delivering better data insights. Even today, looking at insights can be a powerful way to grow if you know what you are looking for. Yet, data alone is not enough if you don’t know what you are looking for. That’s why having niche expertise, like Antlerzz who only works with health brands, is critical.  

So, what AI social media tools can users expect in the future?

AI in Social media will be about streamlining processes

Real-time AI social media insights

In the future, we can expect to have tools that give us information about what is trending at that exact moment, with insights on what we could create. The best-in-class tools won’t create the content for you, but rather make recommendations on where there are gaps.

Yet, having an AI social media tool that gives the same insights to everyone is meaningless. Therefore, they will learn about you and your business. It will understand what your USP is and give guidance on what you should do. However, this type of insight will require expertise to digest and implement. You may know how to drive a car, but that doesn’t make you Elon Musk.

Social media AI assistants

Yes, tools that can help you schedule content already exist. But in the future, these AI social media assistants will do much more. They will likely:

  • Optimise posting times based on your target audience’s activity patterns. This will be based on not only when they are online but also the type of content they like to engage with at different points of the day and week. This will help ensure maximum reach. In truth, social media platforms may integrate such technology into their platforms as they seek to keep people engaged for longer.
  • Perform audience analysis including everything from engagement patterns to sentiment analysis. This will mean you can create content that better resonates with your audience.
  • Monitor comments, messages, and mentions across social media platforms in real time. Using natural language processing, based on your unique thoughts and writing style, they may even draft personalised responses. However, these will need to be approved by you to ensure the best results.
  • Continuously analyse content performance metrics. This means you will be able to identify trends and patterns so you can tweak headlines, imagery and more.
  • Identify monetisation opportunities. This will include identifying the right content to provide offers to your customers.
  • Provide high-level compliance assistance. This will include flagging if your content is in contravention of copyright laws.

AI influencer matching platforms

There are many influencer platforms around today. If you want to sell NMN supplements you can quickly find a biohacking influencer who has significant engagement. But several concerns remain. This includes:

  • Do they meet your brand expectations? For example, you want your brand to be trustworthy but this influencer often makes outlandish, unsubstantiated claims. This can cause reputational damage.
  • Is their engagement real? Everything on social media can be faked if you know how. Just because someone has thousands of likes, it doesn’t mean anything. You need to know what you are looking for which can be difficult for many.
  • Are their followers real? As discussed, there are AI tools today that promise to get you followers. Most of these will be bots.
  • How much should I charge? Unless you are experienced, it’s not easy to know.
  • Are they trending? Some influencers are up and coming and it’s easy to overlook them. Just because another account has a lot more followers doesn’t make them more influential than a smaller account. 

Going forward, such systems will exist. This will be based on not just social media but a range of factors from several platforms.

Unlocking the Power of AI in Social Media: Why Embracing the Future Requires a Careful Step Forward

As we move forward with AI and social media, it’s critical marketers tread carefully. Getting caught up in the AI hype bubble will cause issues for your social media account and reputation. AI generated content may be appealing. After all, who doesn’t want to become influential with just the press of a few buttons? But remember, in 2001 I was the coolest person around because I had an iPod. Fast forward over 20 years and unfortunately nobody wants to see it anymore. Regardless of the number of times I wave it around on the London underground, nobody cares. 

The AI of tomorrow will revolutionise how we use social media. It just won’t be in the ways many people think. It will be used for efficiency and speed. Just not, content creation. After all, would you pay hundreds of pounds to travel to Paris to visit an art gallery where all the art is made by AI? You might do it today, but going forward that will become boring. What humans want is emotional connection hence why people still pay hundreds if not thousands of pounds just to visit Paris’ Louvre Museum to see da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The same can be said of masterpieces from the Pyramids to the Sistine Chapel. These pieces of art tell a story about their creators. Social media content tells a story about its creators. If you use Ai in the wrong way, you will lose that connection.

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