By Kartik Walia
The internet age completely transformed the way brands communicate with their consumers. From vinyl billboards to web banners, marketing has changed lanes in the last few decades. From being a tiny segment of marketing, social media is now an individual segment with a dedicated budget and team.
Why is it so important to brands? It drives engagement, solves queries, gathers feedback, and identifies consumer trends. Plus, it does so on a large scale! More than half the world (4.20 Billion users) are active on some kind of social media platform. 97% of the Fortune 500 companies rely on social media to communicate (McKinsey, Datareportal).
If all is well, you may ask why the need for automation? The pandemic meant lockdown which led to work, business, shopping, and more from home. This gave a huge boost to online traffic. The number of active social media users grew by 13.2 % in 2020 (Datareportal). Handling such humongous online traffic is no easy feat for a small team of humans. From consumer queries to feedback, engagement became an impossible task for 4-5 people. This led to the need for innovative tools to streamline and automate processes while keeping engagement intact.
From the consumer’s lens: The demand for quick response
A successful consumer engagement journey starts with curiosity and ends with a solution. The success of this engagement is dependent on how long this transaction takes. As per reports, 79% of consumers expect brands to respond to their queries on social media within a day. The actual response rate across industries is only 25% (Sprout Social). Why? Lack of manpower. A delayed response is a trigger for consumers to look elsewhere. The result – loss of active leads and loyal customers. In the current scenario, brands are spearheading Covid-19 support initiatives. The state of stress and urgency from consumers is being further felt by brands. Even an acknowledgment that the query is being looked into is great support for people struggling with life and death.
Hence, Social Media Automation is playing a key role in enabling a 100% response rate for brands. Automation of regular tasks is taking pressure off humans. This is helping build bandwidth not only for critical tasks but also relief during the pandemic.
AI’s role in Automation: A look at comment moderation
With AI and ML, automation is becoming more sophisticated. AI-powered social media automation has made comment moderation a reality. The inclusion of AI helps the brand with real-time comment analysis and the choice of prioritised recommendations to act upon. It also provides a choice for automating these actions to be taken instantly. AI enables a bucket list of actions that can be automated which include, liking positive comments, posting public replies to FAQs, tagging comments for customer support issues, privately replying when appropriate, and hiding problematic comments, such as those containing hate speech. Consumer brands are dealing with a pandemic-driven surge of digital engagement. An AI-powered comment moderation system would help a brand in handling this digital surge at a superhuman scale in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Such automation will solve not only for responsiveness and bandwidth but also consumer and brand engagement.
Does automation replace Humans?
There is no doubt that brands have seen success with automation. Brands like Lifestyle have seen a great response and a positive growth in their consumer engagement by using an AI-powered comment moderation system. Lifestyle’s social moderation is now 90 percent automated on Facebook and approximately 50-70 percent automated on Instagram. 79% of consumers believe social media drives their purchasing decisions (Stackla report). This kind of engagement was only a dream for consumer brands in the past, but social media made it possible. With AI-enabled automation, brands are empowered to boost revenues by reducing employment costs. This does not come at the cost of human employment. Any form of relationship-building requires a human touch. This is what brands will need to keep in mind when adopting any form of technology.
The aim of automation tools is to help humans and hence, brands relate better with consumers. It has never been to replace them. After all, humans introduced the technology!
Sooner or later, social media automation will become a necessity and not a luxury. That is the beauty of technology. You leverage the present until there is something more intriguing and extraordinary.
The author is head of India operations, Amplify.ai