By Lance Concannon
Artificial Intelligence has been one of the hottest topics in technology over the past year. As computers grow more able to solve complex problems without human intervention, the promise is that they’ll automate a lot of work that could only previously be done be people.
But what does this mean for the PR industry, where so much of the work is dependent on relationship building and creativity? Can a computer really ever replace a skilled communications professional? The answer, of course, is no. But I believe that AI will help PR and marketing execs to automate the more tedious, time consuming aspects of their work so that they can focus on their core skills of storytelling and relationship management.
So how will that work? AI is really good at spotting complex patterns in data, and that property can be harnessed for different applications. For example, there are two billion images uploaded onto social channels every day, and no doubt a lot of brands would love to know which of those images feature their logos and products. It would be impossible to do that manually – there aren’t enough account executives on the planet to analyse that many images by hand.
But that’s where AI can help. While it would be extremely impractical to write conventional computer software to recognise logos in photographs, we can build an AI based image recognition algorithm that can learn to identify logos and any other objects in pictures. So, AI can sift through the billions of photographs uploaded to Twitter, Instagram and other social channels, automatically find the pics that include your logo, and then deliver insights such as:
- Where do people use our product?
- What other brands are featured in photos of our products?
- What kind of people photograph themselves with our product?
But this pattern recognition capability can also be applied to other kinds of data, such as the thousands of data points that are available from your paid, earned and owned social media activity. There are so many metrics available from the major social channels that it can be impossible for marketers to track all of them, so instead we just use dashboards to monitor the most important and in doing so we risk missing important insights.
AI offers an alternative approach. All of those data points can be fed into an AI platform, which constantly analyses them all, both in isolation and in a huge number of combinations, looking for correlations, trends, associations and other interesting anomalies in ways which human beings are simply incapable of doing at that kind of scale.
When such an insight is identified, the system automatically alerts the user, providing an overview of what has happened, and a choice of possible actions (e.g. a piece of content is performing unexpectedly well amongst a specific demographic group, so maybe spend more money promoting that post on Facebook, or push it out to other regions).
This is the real promise of AI in marketing communications. Being able to get more insight and intelligence is always good, but if the technology can help us choose the best course of action based on the data, then we’ll be able to improve the way we communicate with our audiences. This is what we’re working towards at Sysomos.
Lance Concannon is the EMEA marketing director for social media insight platform, Sysomos.
Image courtesy of pixabay