The rise of inauthentic social media stars has made it increasingly more challenging for brands to run effective influencer campaigns in recent years. As more and more people aim to make a living via product promotion, and fake users like CGI-created personalities appear on popular platforms, it’s more difficult and tedious than ever to sift through the noise. It’s a better time than ever to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into Influencer Marketing.
The business value of AI is well-documented — Gartner estimates that AI-derived business value will reach $3.9 trillion in 2022 — but the use of AI in Influencer Marketing is still fairly new, as shown by the number of startups emerging in this space.
The potential benefit to marketers is exciting. When used correctly, AI can analyze years of social media content to determine validity, aesthetic style, audience sentiment, and how effective their content is at driving traffic, engagement, and product sales. AI can also be applied to content created by industry analysts and experts at various media outlets in the same manner. The end result will be better matchups between brands and influencers, and more valuable and relevant content for buyers.
AI Can Help Find the Right Influencers
Let’s look at a concrete example. In the BI and analytics space, there are a myriad of analysts, experts, educators, bloggers and more who write about the trends and challenges in my industry. My time and resources are limited, so who should I spend my time with? Who should I brief and when questionnaires show up, which ones should I pay attention to? I need help finding the best, most prolific, and most forward-thinking influencers who are writing within the market segments or industries that I want to target.
There are so many variables at play that it would take countless hours for me to work through this on my own — hours taken away from other areas where I can make more of an impact. An AI assistant would be able to collect the data I need to make decisions, identify topical trends, and then pick influencers that are best suited for our target markets.
Someday, my AI bot might also help me with nurturing existing relationships — for example, which analysts should I reconnect with, which analysts should I reconsider, and who are the promising up-and-comers writing useful material on relevant topics? I could have a tailored list of analysts to reach out to based on my end goals.
AI Can Help Identify Fake Accounts or Reviews
You’ve probably seen the thousands of fake accounts and hundreds of review sites out there, leading to tens of thousands of fake reviews that may sway a potential customer’s decision regarding a company or product. But which sites’ reviews will actually make a difference in sales, and which ones should a marketing team focus their efforts on?
Utilizing AI, one could take information from customer touchpoint or win/loss reports, and use that to identify which review sites need to be a priority. The AI platform could continuously scan through new reviews and recommend certain actions to improve sales or corporate perception. For a negative review, the AI may recommend that I write a response. An extremely positive review may merit reaching out, perhaps for a custom marketing technology angle. I might also be able to see which competitors are seeing an increase in their reviews or ratings so I can tailor our messaging and customer outreach accordingly.
AI Can Identify Content That’s Relevant and Valuable to Buyers
Finally, from the user side of things, AI can help ensure that companies are delivering relevant content to the right people and cutting through the noise of hundreds of other content creators.
On Instagram alone, 80 million photos are shared per day. Web users are bombarded by dozens of ads for clothing companies that don’t actually exist — until user engagement is high enough for the account owner to begin producing clothes in China. How can a marketer cut through this relentless flood of content and ensure that their message gets through to users?
AI-powered systems will be able to analyze millions of image attributes, analyze comment sentiment to see which posts resonate with users or pinpoint where users post content related to a company’s product or brand. And with users hungry for relevant content from trustworthy accounts, delivering tailored content at precisely the right time will be a huge advantage for those companies who lean on AI for marketing recommendations.
Ensure AI Is Effectively Integrated into Your Company’s Workflow
However, as great as all of this sounds, I’ve found that most companies have not yet figured out a way to successfully integrate AI for Influencer Marketing into their company’s broader planning processes.
Let’s say your company is trying to compute ROI on a particular analyst/influencer program. This may not be so complex if you’re a smaller company with only one brand and a handful of industry analysts, but what if your company has 100 brands and a dozen marketing managers per brand? How would you integrate this incredible quantity of data from an AI platform into your business planning system and your operational reporting system? How can you determine if the ROI from a given influencer campaign is better than the ROI you’d get pursuing a different strategy?
There is a raft of new startups that would have you believe that you can simply plug in an AI solution, and magically reap the benefits without any work. Truly beneficial AI still requires knowledge of your industry, the problem domain, and your business goals. It’s called Data Science for a reason: there is work involved, including experimentation, testing, and validation.
This can all be a bit counter-intuitive for a marketer who is focused on the positives, but it’s critical to consider how AI for marketing will be developed and integrated into the broader business process to see best results.
In summary, AI for Influencer Marketing can be extremely beneficial thanks to its speed, accuracy, and ability to pinpoint trends and synthesize data faster than a human ever could. With the right AI strategy, you could very well increase productivity, engage with the right influencers, and provide your customers with more valuable and relevant material. Just be sure to consider how AI will fit within your business processes and systems and be wary of anyone selling a one-click ‘magical’ solution.