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55% to increase use of AI for social strategies: Here's what local agencies are doing

55% to increase use of AI for social strategies: Here's what local agencies are doing

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In the ever-evolving space of social media and digital marketing, 55% of APAC businesses see AI as an important part of their social media strategy. This is a notably higher percentage when compared with their global counterparts (44%).

In fact, 55% of marketing and communication professionals across the APAC region are planning to increase their use of AI tools in 2024 with organisations mainly leveraging AI to find inspiration (45%) and create copies (40%).

Don't miss: Study: Content production has increased by 56.7% with the introduction of gen AI

These were the results of social media intelligence firm Meltwater’s ‘State of Social Media 2024’ report which surveyed around 400 professionals in the APAC region to also reveal that 64% of respondents say AI tools help them save time on writing. 36% say it helps improve their copy.

When it comes to the reason companies use social media, 47% of organisations are interested in using social media to achieve its top-of-funnel goal of raising brand awareness with sub-goals of connecting with customers and increasing brand engagement.

With the increasing use of AI in social media agencies, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to some local ones to find out how they are incorporating AI in their social media strategies and how they plan to continue investing in it as it grows. 

According to Sunny Johar, managing director and head of digital strategy at KRDS, there are two distinct aspects to the use of AI in social media. The first is functional, where AI is used on a tactical level than on a strategic level.

"For instance, generative AI for images can be a great alternative to stock images for brands from industries with minimally differentiated products, where the odds of competitors using similar images is extremely high. On this level, it may or may not be immediately clear that AI was used to create the content," she said. 

The second aspect on the use of AI, is to entertain, where cutting-edge campaigns put AI at the heart of the idea and leverage AI’s capabilities to create interactive campaigns at scale.

"At KRDS Singapore we are a young, extremely creative team that’s always up for a challenge, so naturally we seize all opportunities to add an interactive twist to a campaign with AI," explained Johar.

She added that as an agency, it has already invested in several functional AI tools, and that it is always refining the tools in its portfolio.

"However, as and when we have opportunities to create AI-centric campaigns, we are also ready to conduct our due diligence for lesser-known tools that could help us deliver a more unique vision," she said. 

She added that AI should not be built in just for the sake of it but should be plugged in depending on the objectives of the brand and the problem AI will be solving.

"AI can be a powerful way to deliver an interactive campaign with a twist, however there is quite a bit of due diligence required on a technical level before it can be integrated into a strategy successfully," she said. 

Adding on, Johar explained that AI is still nowhere close to the level where it can replace a human entirely. "In practice, the perceived fears about employee bandwidth do not actually come to pass as there are several limitations in what AI can deliver. Over multiple uses this becomes extremely clear," she said. 

So, while AI may help employees with certain cumbersome tasks, arguably, it frees up the employees' time to provide more value addition.

According to Meltwater, content production has increased by 56.7% since the year ChatGPT launched as content generation becomes easier than ever.

The substantial growth is seven times higher than the typical increase in rate of content production which averages at 7% per year, according to digital asset management provider Bynder’s latest study that aims to uncover the impact of gen AI tools on the amount of content created and managed by marketers.

However, Meltwater’s report uncovered that despite the ease of generating social media content with AI, 51% of companies are concerned about employee bandwidth when managing social media and 37% cite not having a defined strategy as the bigger challenge.

In fact, a majority of survey respondents operate in small social media teams of two to five members (50%), highlighting that the increased focus on social media is putting a strain on manpower constraints.

“Social media teams are in an unenviable position of doing a lot more for their organisations this year with limited resources and budget,” said Mimrah Mahmood, vice president Enterprise APAC and partner at Meltwater APAC.

“Brands typically post three to four times each week and the challenge is to consistently create engaging content in a scalable way. AI will continue to be a technology of interest as it augments the capabilities of social media teams,” he added.

Incorporating education into AI implementation

When it comes to incorporating AI into social media teams and strategies to alleviate workloads, it all comes down to education, according to Yi Hui Toh, country manager, Singapore at AnyMind Group.

Like programmatic in the past, any new widely hyped technology requires a good amount of education before users can maximise the full value of the technology, Toh said, adding that this can be further broken down into two stages: adoption and familiarisation.

"During the adoption stage, use cases will make or break confidence around reception of the technology, and ample research and projections should be done before implementing a use case of AI when managing social media," he explained.

In the familiarisation stage, consideration has to be made when implementing AI into social media workflows, including which areas drive the most effectiveness, and at what cost.

Toh added:

The post-familiarisation stage is when we start to see marketers unlock the true value of AI in social media management.

Toh said that Anymind has been using AI for many years now in its work. "Before GenAI became mainstream, we had already developed various AI and machine learning use cases, such as computer vision for DOOH installations through our digital marketing platform, AnyDigital, floor price optimisation on AnyManager, our platform for publishers, and similar-influencer recommendations on our influencer marketing platform, AnyTag," he said. 

He added that the agency had also already implemented GenAI into our logistics management platform to automatically translate shipping addresses, in addition to virtual influencer implementations.

"Looking ahead, we’re keen to maximise the utilisation of data across our suite of platforms - from eCommerce and marketing to logistics and customer service - and develop features that can help our clients do more in less time on enhancing their organisation’s business process," he said.

He added that ideally, social media agencies can use AI as a research tool, to ideate their campaigns and to visualise concepts in the form of images and videos. 

"For example, the development of mood boards using GenAI can help improve efficiency and lead time needed, where even brand marketers can use such tools," he said, adding that trendjacking is also another area that can be looked at, where AI is used to detect and generate content at a much faster pace.

Using AI for research in social media

Adding to his point, Gushcloud International explained that it does use AI to assist them in data research and analysis to come up with consumer insights.

"We use that insight as the basis to come up with campaign strategy. Moreover, our campaign strategist and creatives also use AI tools such as Gencraft and ChatGPT to help with content ideation and content mockup," said May Chaweewannakorn, head of SEA talents at Gushcloud International.

Adding to her point, Choy Peng Kong, chief technology officer at Gushcloud, noted that the agency has been "rigourously" studying the advancements in AI and building proof-of-concepts since early last year to evaluate the feasibility and impact of AI technology on its business and industry.

"We have developed an AI chatbot using OpenAI’s GPT-4 as the base model, augmented with access to Gushcloud's extensive proprietary data on talents and campaigns," he explained. "This AI is currently being assessed for its potential, and we envision it playing a crucial role at all key stages of agency marketing, from recommending talents to generating valuable following and engagement insights."

Related articles:
Study: 55% of businesses plan to increase their use of AI for social media
Study: Companies optimistic about AI but only 46% are acting on it
CEOs, CFOs, need to build trust in AI at work, says insights report

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