Will AI Content Be the Downfall of Social Media?

Will AI Content Be the Downfall of Social Media?

 

If your business relies on social media for brand dissemination or sales leads, you’re likely wondering if recent headlines are true. Can the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) really impact the widespread use of social media platforms? Will AI content drive users away from beloved apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others?

According to a recent Gartner survey, “72% of consumers believe that AI-based content generators could spread false or misleading information.” The study reveals that 50% of consumers expect to “abandon or significantly limit” their interactions with social media platforms, as a result. 

Why do consumers appear ready to jump ship so quickly? What can you do, as a business owner, to preserve your social media presence and protect your leads? Here are a few things to think about when it comes to the evolution of AI content.

 

Speculation is Our Starting Point

Technology is hard to predict. Just as it was hard to imagine all the ways we would use a cell phone or tablet when they first became available, it is hard to predict the role that AI will play in our day-to-day lives.    

Naturally, high schools and colleges across the country are working to detect the use of AI content in written essays and assignments. They want to make sure students aren’t taking shortcuts when it comes to their written work. But they are also wondering how to incorporate it into their teachings. 

Nobody wants to be left behind by AI, after all. But getting things just right—balancing new technology with a desire for stability—is tricky. In the time since the launch of Chat GPT, speculation about the use and misuse of AI content has abounded. While the true power of the technology will reveal itself over time, when we can easily see its usefulness in our personal and business lives, for now, speculation is our starting point. 

 

What Consumers Fear

The challenge with speculation, of course, is our tendency to fear the worst. The recent Gartner survey indicates that most consumers fear the integration of AI content into social media will spread misinformation and create a toxic, harmful environment. They fear an increasing presence of bot technology that will change the very nature of social media itself. 

Of course, social media is constantly evolving. According to Gartner, 53% of consumers said the state of social media has decayed over the last year to five years. A perceived decline in quality of experience likely reduces the amount of time users spend on various platforms. 

Emily Weiss, the senior principal researcher of the Gartner study, said that consumers are actively trying to reduce their interaction with social media, and that compared to a few years ago, they are sharing less online. 

 

Business Value of Social Media

For business users, social media presents both a significant opportunity and an ongoing challenge. While the cost of participation—production, and execution of ads and an overall presence—is low, it requires time and effort to create a cohesive strategy and a compelling reason for consumers to follow your brand. 

But the reward of getting it right makes social media a unique opportunity. Not only can a compelling brand generate leads, but it can also create a sense of connection that transcends advertisements alone. 

The brands that get it right find a give-and-take connection with their followers. They create nuance and, in some cases, a genuine sense of community. This kind of relationship takes time and thought. In some cases, it takes production effort and a significant budget. 

There is an unspoken trade-off in social media transactions. Consumers may be willing to follow and interact with your brand, but they want a reason to be there. They expect regular content updates, deals, and information on products, and perhaps more than anything, they expect to be entertained. 

So, if the growth of AI content drives the decline of social media users, how do you find the right balance as a business owner? While the cost of maintaining a compelling social media presence is lower than other media channels, it can still be a significant expense, especially for small businesses. 

Let’s take a closer look at the next best steps for business owners who are wondering what to do in the face of change. How do you adjust your social media spending if AI content is about to change everything? 

 

Proceed with Caution

Remember, when it comes to the future of AI content and the influence AI will have on the way we exist in the world, our starting point is speculation. As a business owner, you don’t want to bail out on social media, in case users turn their attention elsewhere. But you want to be aware of the potential for imminent change. What’s the best move for a business owner? 

First, stay dialed into market trends and consumer reports around social media use. Keep a sharp focus on your target market. Have their behaviors changed, or are they still interacting reliably with social media? 

Gartner speculates that the growth and mistrust of AI content may drive some consumers to seek out brands and interactions that are overtly free of AI. In the same way consumers self-select companies committed to Fair Trade or the environment, users may seek out AI-free options, to express their values while helping to support specific companies. 

Down the road, this may be a differentiator for your brand. Be willing to be intentional about AI use on the consumer side. If AI content is mistrusted, make human interactions part of your ethos and personality. While there will likely be many ways you’ll use AI content in the background, promoting human interactions might be an important differentiator, helping you stand apart from your competition. 

No matter how social media evolves over the next few years, it’s clear we’re on the precipice of change. If users decide that social media is dominated by AI content, and therefore feels disingenuous, you’ll need to decide how your business will go out of its way to help users feel more connected and more human. 

Whether AI content will be the end of social media has yet to be determined. We’ll all watch, as though spectators at a sporting event. Some plays will seem obvious—we could have seen them coming a mile away, but others will be a surprise. Over time, consumers will have an inkling, and then a gut feeling about the direction they want to take. 

As a business owner, the most powerful step you can take is to dial into this conversation. If consumers leave social media en masse, they will likely turn their attention somewhere else. To stay up to date on trends and technology over the next several years, it’s important to work with a trusted team of advisors. 

The right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team can help you figure out where to invest your marketing dollars and time, to reach your target market, wherever they are. A reputable SEO firm will be up to date on current trends and industry conversations, and they will have the expertise to help you find and communicate with your target market. 

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