Way back in the 1950s, when computers were the size of studio apartments and magnetic tape was cutting edge technology, MIT professor Marvin Minsky defined “AI” (artificial intelligence) as any technology that demonstrates one or more of the qualities associated with human intelligence: perception, learning, problem-solving, even motion.
Whether you recognize it or not, AI is ubiquitous today. It powers your Amazon purchases, it secures your credit card accounts, and it enables Siri to listen and reply from the far side of the Uncanny Valley.
For the past few years, marketers have been using AI technology parse huge amounts of data, automate simple tasks, and, to a lesser extent, customize communications for specific audience segments. According to Salesforce, just over half of marketers currently use AI technology, and another 29% are expected to incorporate some form of artificial intelligence by the end of 2019.
One of the most interesting ways that marketers are currently using AI technology is to identify emerging influencers on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Broadly defined, influencers are leaders of self-organized social media communities. To paraphrase Hemingway, influencers are just like you, except they have more followers. And, increasingly, they tell those followers where to shop and what to buy.
Brands are pouring money into social rising stars. 70% of brands will increase their influencer marketing spend next year, says eMarketer. For every dollar spent on influencer marketing in 2017 brands saw a staggering return of $7.65. But finding the right influencers is a tedious process, even for major brands like Nike and Target. That’s where AI comes in. Brands can harness the power of AI to scan their audiences and identify the individuals who are leading conversations, garnering likes and comments, and speaking in a tone that dovetails with the brand’s voice.
In 2018, Qoints, a benchmarking platform for digital marketers, launched AI Social Discovery, a tool that helps brands find the right micro-influencers (those with 50 to 50k followers) for marketing campaigns.
AI Social Discovery is powered by IBM’s Watson, the artificial intelligence technology best known for beating Ken Jennings on Jeopardy. In 2016, Watson helped car maker Kia identify hundreds of social influencers to boost engagement for a Super Bowl spot starring Christopher Walken.
Artificial Intelligence won’t rise up and overthrow its human masters, but it just might revolutionize the way we build communities around brands. And that’s good news. It means more contextually relevant messages for consumers, and more effective ad spends for marketers.