Which Social App Will Be the First to Harness AI?

Facebook. Twitter. Online advertisers. The revolution has already begun.
Which Social App Will Be the First to Harness AI?
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Artificial intelligence (AI) represents what I believe to be the next leap forward in technological development. With AI, we can process data faster, design systems that learn based on their environments and possibly solve problems that to date we've been unable to solve.

Related: 5 Major Artificial Intelligence Hurdles We're on Track to Overcome by 2020

It’s only a matter of time before AI takes over the social media world and starts using machine-learning to better serve us as both consumers and business owners. So, which will be the first to take the plunge, and how can you, as an entrepreneur, prepare?

Actually, the revolution has already begun.

How AI is used in social nedia

AI and machine-learning have already started to infiltrate the functionality of most -- if not all -- major social media apps in the world today, and in multiple areas. Just take a look:

  • Newsfeeds. Facebook and other social media platforms use AI to curate the best possible newsfeeds for their individual users. The idea is to actively learn what types of posts a user engages with, such as those with specific keywords or angles, or those from specific users and publishers. The next thing is to populate those users' newsfeeds with more of those stories. This strategy has led to some interesting controversies, especially with the prevalence of fake news and echo chambers in social media. But it's a strategy that's been in circulation -- and has been arguably effective -- for many years. Very recently, Wall Street firms have been using algorithms (AI) to automatically buy or sell stocks based solely on what Donald Trump tweets. That's just another interesting way social media newsfeeds and AI are becoming intertwined.
  • Advertising. Online advertisers, even using tools designed to make advertising easier, can’t stay competitive without a little AI interference these days. In most social media advertising platforms, AI is used to take input user preferences (such as demographic or timing considerations) and find the best possible display options to encourage engagement. This is how social apps prove their value to advertisers and seek the highest possible yield.
  • Image and voice recognition. AI is also being used to make it easier for users, including blind users, to engage with their apps. Voice recognition can decipher spoken commands, and image recognition can now tag faces automatically based on facial-structure comparisons with your existing friends list.
  • Emotional analysis. Let’s also not forget the time several years ago when Facebook intentionally manipulated the emotions of its users -- just to see if it could. In the experiment, Facebook presented users with different newsfeed items, then measured subjective emotions as they existed in subsequent status updates. This was a form of AI, too.

Related: The Growth of Artificial Intelligence in Ecommerce (Infographic)

Where AI can go from here

Most of these updates rolled out gradually, or as modifications of features that already existed, so they may have been hard to notice. And by most anecdotal accounts, the level of AI in social media doesn’t “feel” that significant, as we’re not talking to it or getting fooled by it. So, what comes next?

  • Digital assistants. Facebook was the first app to unveil its own kind of digital assistant, M, though its functionality still isn’t as widespread as the company originally purported. In time, each social app could have its own assistant-like interface, similar to Siri or Cortana, to help you make posts, customize your app experience and get the information you need more quickly.
  • AI for business. Social media apps care about all their users, but none so much as the high-profile businesses giving them money for ads. Accordingly, there will likely be an AI burst to help businesses and organizations, and the first place I see that happening is with automated messaging responses. Think of this as custom AI that does your customer service work for you.
  • Dynamic content. Content is the fuel that keeps social media moving, but users are demanding more immediate, more personalized forms of content. Twitter’s Moments, a consolidation of topic-based content from around the web, is an early example of “dynamic content” which can adapt immediately and intelligently, but it’s just the beginning of AI-based, spontaneously generated material.

Which app is furthest ahead?

So, which social media app is the furthest ahead with these features, and the one most likely to pave the way for the future of AI in social?

Though there’s some room for debate here, I have to go with Facebook. It’s the most popular app in the world for a reason, and it’s constantly pushing the limits of what’s possible in social. It also has access to the most cash, and the biggest user base to experiment with. So, in my book, the answer to the question is a no-brainer.

How to prepare your business

What does all this mean for you as a business owner? How can you prepare?

There are tons of advantages to using AI for your business: the ability to place better ads, communicate better with your customers and perhaps most importantly, stay a step ahead of the competition. The more you learn about these new features, and the sooner you start using them to your advantage, the higher ROI you’ll see in your marketing and advertising campaigns.

Related: 4 AI Technologies Impacting Business Operations Right Now

At its core, AI exists to make our lives easier and enhance what we can do as human beings. In that way, AI isn’t going to introduce anything completely novel to us as marketers; it’s just going to make what we’re currently doing faster, cheaper and more effective.
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