Most of us already have smartphones we use for a thousand small tasks that used to take a lot longer to accomplish: check out library books, find the cheapest gas station by your office, Google an authoritative-sounding statistic to use in the heat of an argument. One day we’ll just leave it to the iPhone to cut the grass, babysit the kids, and serve the perfect martini. (What will I do with my weekends then?)
But there are some things that artificial intelligence hasn’t mastered yet. Nuanced conversation, creative problem-solving, and responding to emotional cues with compassion are a few, and these skills are generally required to deliver quality customer service. So why has there been so much interest lately in automated social media?
We already know the benefits of social media marketing and the drawbacks for companies that don’t use it. But social media marketing is all about communicating with your audience and listening to them in return. It’s about building relationships, which can be incredibly time consuming. Businesses have to pay someone to spend that time – or take someone off other, more directly sales-related tasks to handle the social accounts.
Since the essence of social media is in building relationships, a computer program will never be able to handle all aspects of it; it’ll always take at least some time from a real human being. But automation can drastically reduce the time you have to spend on it.
Think about marketing via social media like this: Regular posting helps build your audience and reinforce your brand, and tracking the results establishes which tactics work and which don’t. The flip side – the back-and-forth, answering questions, problem solving, and even trading witty comments – helps you retain customers, establish loyalty, and hopefully even create some unofficial brand ambassadors for your company.
The technology is available to handle the first part of social media marketing for you: posting at scheduled intervals, tracking results and creating reports. If you let an automated social media platform do these for you, you can radically reduce the time you spend on the tedious parts, freeing up time to engage in the higher-value social media tasks that result in relationships with your customers.
We don’t know what the future holds; maybe someday we’ll have a program that can automate actual conversations, hopefully with better problem-solving skills than Siri. But for now, I’ll take a program that handles the tedious, freeing me up to engage with customers.
About the Author: Sharon Eliza Nichols created the Facebook group “I judge you when you use poor grammar.”, which grew to almost 500,000 members. She turned the content into two books, “I judge you when you use poor grammar.” and “More Badder Grammar!”, which have sold 90,000+ copies. Sharon has a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law, she’s been featured in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and she works in marketing in Virginia.