The Gist: An insight into the plight of SMB entrepreneurs during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. Please read completely, or I recommend not to waste your time.
As we pass time in the lockdown to fight the Novel Corona threat, the Indian Government has taken a plethora of steps to ensure that people are not hit drastically by streamlining the demand-supply chain for essential commodities, ensuring that the lockdown is imposed properly and isolating cases in addition to announcing some great economic measures to ensure stability and peace.
The Indian lockdown scenario:
Official (as announced) – 21 days.
Disturbance before announcement – 3 days
Assuming monthly weekends – 8 days
Other holidays in the period of lockdown – 9 days
Total – 41 days of lost productivity.
We support the government in its entirety and understand teh magnanamity of the task. That announcing and executing the same in so short a time, is a great challenge. The government has kept its word on every commitment made and we are sure that we will successfully thwart the Corona threat. Kudos.
We thank every front-line health worker, from doctors, nurses, and paramedics to those involved in sanitary services who are risking the infection to ensure that we, the common people live in relative safety.
While everything looks hunky-dory at this stage, let us look at the economic ramifications from an SMB [small and medium businesses] point of view that could surface once the lockdown is over [the possibility of the lockdown being extended is not ruled out].
Most SMB owners in India do not come from affluent or rich families. Compared to the salaried counterparts, most SMB owners would have about 2-month revenues as liquid savings. The intelligent salaried normally would have 4 to 6 months of salary as liquid savings. And a good entrepreneur takes about 10% of the turnover home, as salary or drawings.
The Indian SMB entrepreneurs can be classified as:
The Upper Middle Class:
A family of 4 which can buy and maintain a car in the C2 segment such as a Honda city, or maybe 2 hatchbacks such as i10. Can think of buying a 2 bedroom apartment on loan in an average location in a city such as Bangalore. Or stay on rent in posh areas. Can send kids to good private schools and private engineering colleges. Can afford to watch movies in multiplex and eat in good restaurants on weekends. Go for holidays to Goa, Jaipur, Kerala once a year. And Thailand, Malaysia, etc once in 3 years. They save enough for a comfortable retirement and lavish weddings of kids. This needs an in-hand income of a minimum 1.5 lakhs a month. That is approximately 24 lakhs a year salary before tax. 1% Indians [about 1.5 crores] are in and above this class.*How the lockdown pans out for an upper middle class entrepreneur:
He/She makes 24 lakhs a year.
Liquid savings prior to lockdown = 24/12 * 2 = INR 4 lakhs.
Assuming a take-home margin of 10% (which is ridiculous in today’s market), he will make a turnover of INR 2.4 Crores.
A lost period of 30 days (assuming a month) converts to a loss of INR 20 lakhs in turnover.
The general ratio of gross turnover to salary is about 35%>. Therefore the salaries paid in the period of no productivity is about INR 7.0 lakhs.
For any entrepreneur, the cost of living would be about 60% of the take-home including EMI’s. Therefore for the lockdown period where he is making no money, he would be spending:
On salaries – INR 700,000.00
Home expenses – INR 120,000.00
Gross Spend – INR 820,000.00
EMI Moratorium offset – INR 30,000
Net Spend – INR 790,000.00
Remember, the liquidity is only INR 400,000.00, so liquidity and credit cards will be stretched.
Liabilities in the next 60 days:
Opportunity loss (20% of lost turnover) – INR 800,000.00
50% opportunity loss for the next 60 days – INR 400,000.00
Business Income Tax payable (approx.) – INR 700,000.00
Personal Income tax payable (approx.) – INR 700,000.00
With business suddenly in recession and cash flow constricted, his open liabilities are INR 26,00,000.00, more than his yearly earnings.2. Middle class:A family of 4 which can rent a 2 bedroom apartment in an average area of the city. Buy and maintain a car such as the Hyundai i10. Watch a movie in multiplex once a month and eat out at average restaurants. Dream to own an apartment but cannot. Go for vacation once a year to Goa etc. Can buy branded clothes but not expensive electronics such as big tv or expensive cellphones. Can send kids to private schools but Cannot afford private engineering colleges in India. They manage to save for a decent retirement and kids wedding. They have an in-hand income of roughly INR 75,000 a month. That is a minimum salary of INR 12 lakhs CTC before taxes.*For a middle-class entrepreneur, doing the same math as the upper-middle class, with business suddenly in recession and cash flow constricted, his open liabilities are INR 15,00,000.00, more than his yearly earnings.3. Lower middle class:A family of 4 which can afford to rent a 1 bedroom house in low-class areas of the city, buy and maintain a two-wheeler or entry-level hatchback on loan. Car such as alto and keep it for 15 to 20 years. Provide food and education to kids in a government college and cheap private schools. Any other expenses such as watching movies in a multiplex etc are unaffordable. They buy entry-level cellphones such as Moto E and go on a vacation to places like Khandala once a year. This lifestyle is possible with an in-hand income of about 40,000 a month in Indian cities such as Bangalore. An annual in-hand income of 4.8 lakhs. Hence lower-middle-class status starts at approx 6 lakhs annual income before taxes and savings.*For a lower-middle-class entrepreneur, doing the same math like the rest, with business suddenly in recession and cash flow constricted, his open liabilities are INR 750,000.00, more than his yearly earnings.
How’s the cash flow in the lockdown period:
The Rich and Affluent:
Big businesses that manufacture or distribute essential products are making good money for now, but the demand will diminish and balance out in a quarter following the lifting of the lockdown.
But, for now, they are accumulating the cash and riding the cash flow due to panic buying and rolling back the same into business, so a boost for them is inevitable.
Big businesses are run by the affluent or the government, therefore they are going cash-rich, albeit temporarily. This is more so since we are all paying or getting paid salaries on time irrespective of the lockdown.
The salaried are not much affected by the lockdown financially since the salaries are mandatorily payable and they get to spend more and buy more due to savings on eating out, clubbing and all those expendable income activities.
The Below Poverty Line:
The most affected by this crisis are the people below the poverty line and the government has done well by ensuring the PDS [Public Distribution System] remains well-oiled and distributing free food, ration, and money. This is irrespective of the fact that their income has not taken a dent and they are being paid salaries on time.
The essential lockdown crisis:
As small business entrepreneurs, we are all between a rock and a hard place.
We are paying salaries irrespective of work done or not.
We have to run our homes, in a crisis.
No income comes our way, at least for the 41 days.
We are not being supported in any manner by the government.
We suffer with all the above, irrespective of the following facts**:
# Number of SMB’s in India – 42.5 million – 95% of industrial units in India.
# Employment by. SMB’s – 106 million – 40% of country’s workforce.
# Deals in over 6000 products.
# Contribution to GDP – 6.11% of products & 24.63% of services.
# Output – 45% of manufacturing.
# Exports – 40% of overall exports.
# Asset base – Approx, INR 150 trillion [USD 2 trillion].
# YonY Growth rate – 10%.
So, if SMB’s are the backbone of the Indian economy, what is its future? How is the government looking at it?
The government has announced moratoriums on all loans and come up with a few sops. These sops are temporary, it is not that we do not have to pay taxes or interest, it is just that we need to pay later. That is all right, however, these 30/40 days of lost opportunity is not coming back.
Please keep in mind that as entrepreneurs, we are not looking for doles from the government, we are only looking forward to making the most of our opportunities.
And, in my part of the country, the lockdown seems ripe for an extension.
As always, the SMB owners are staring down the barrel.
On a more personal note, I would rather risk the Corona than die of disgrace or hunger. What do you say?
While reading this, please note:
This is my point of view only and I do not expect anyone to subscribe to it.
The above points are purely apolitical and pragmatist and do not cater to any manifestos.
First, I hope you and yourfamily are safe and in great health in this time of the pandemic, what we call the COVID-19. I shall not like to harp on what, when, how, why and all that information overload that is being overly promulgated on the telly and the newspapers.
Second, the million dollar question – what are you doing in this isolated quarantine?
Are you using your time to do something constructive or awesome instead of being bogged down and stressed out with news of Novel Corona and the statistics?
Are you looking at this isolation, quarantine, lockdown or curfew as wasted time or as a gifted opportunity?
I was looking at this as a paid holiday, but sadly, cannot go out anywhere. That would be an irresponsible statement, yes, kinda realised it the first day. So, let me tell you what I am doing with my gifted time.
This is not to give you a peek into my personal quarantine diary [not that I mind], but to share a few ideas to better yourself, or to pursue stuff that you have been intending to, but never found the time.
As for me, I have always been fascinated with the written word. I have been writing forever, probably since 2003 or 4, everywhere I can find space – internet, paper, blank walls, even on empty spaces across the columns of newspapers and magazines and of course in the recesses of my unused brain. So, the favouritism to reading and writing will be prominent in this piece, but then, each to his own poison.
No, this is not about marketing, SEO, keywords, rankings, content marketing or everything else you can think about. Let’s give Google a break.
This is just about what I am doing to overcome the Corona boredom.
I started out with getting bored for the first 4 days, then went into deep thought. I began counting the number of things I wanted to do but never could begin doing them.
Surprisingly, the count was far beyond the number of fingers I have.
I wrote them down [as I am inclined to] and prioritised them as I would – numbered them as per my passion-measure for each of them. Surprisingly, I found that, if only I had given more time and thought to them when they first occurred to my mind/heart, I would have been far better man and more successful in my profession.
And this is not even the entire list. Let me list my top fifteen:
Plan my finances to tide through the crisis (remember, I am not salaried). – priority 01
Clean up my attic, my room and my storage. – priority 02
Get back to some great health by detoxing & exercise. – priority 03
Spend a lot of quality time with family and involve kids in most of the above activities. – priority 04
Rejuvenate myself with some great reading. – priority 05
Rethink on my contribution to the society. – priority 06
Try a few new recipes to ramp up on my culinary skills. – priority 07
Up my stuck-up writing skills. – priority 08
Write a few short stories that can be made into films. – priority 09
Catch up on my to-watch movie list. – priority 10
Up my editing skills, both the written word and the video. – priority 11
Change the way I speak or turn more articulate. – priority 12
Revamp my website with some wonderful content. – priority 13
Create an app that will simplify marketing, so much so that a startup can market itself without the help any agencies – save money and time and have a more focussed approach. – priority 14
Practice my lowly guitar skills. – priority 15
Hmm…. So, we have a 40 day lockdown (could be less officially, but I am sure it is going to take that time to come back to normal). As you may know the. Corona Virus has a 40 day life-cycle and tapers bottom to top and then top to bottom in terms of an infection cycle. As I write this, the first 10 days are done with. What have I achieved in those 10 days?
I was traveling on the first 4 days, so just tucked myself in my OYO Room, got drunk a bit on whiskey and ate what was offered by Swiggy. Wasted health, money and time. This for me, as usual, trying to lead a normal life in abnormal times. The ‘abnormal’ or ‘threat’ did not sink in, I guess.
Staring the 5th day, I was able to do achieve the (2) above and was tired by the end of it, took an entire day and realised that I was so disorganised. The amazing part is that I found so many books that I never thought I had, and in fact many of them were unread or partly read. Time to finish and learn. That was a treasure found.
So, (5) is in process and I hope to learn and grow at an intellectual level. The (12) too is happening in the evenings, in addition to (10) that is keeping me in excellent spirits, and these are ongoing processes. By the way (3) is also in the process with my new found love for cycling and it gives me an opportunity to go out whenever allowed to, by the authorities. Not to mention that alcohol and all kind of narcotics are off the shelves :).
(7) has always intrigued me, and I am cooking 2 meals a day and wife is going crazy cleaning up after me. But, I am putting a smile on my chidden’s faces and its all worth it. This in on and probably continue at least with one meal. By the way, I am already done with (1), though there will be jitters, I will tide over.
Yet to clean the guitar (15), probably not now, but will try.
With writing this piece, I am in the process of perfecting the (8) and (11).
With (11) I am also curating some stories for (9) and (12)
I am also giving a great deal of thought to (13) while processing the (12) loudly.
The (14) and the (15) are on the after-burner and will be starting out with them, one after another. However, I am not so sure that I Will have the time to get to (15).
My sincere apologies to the numeric references, however, I put them here with the purpose of getting more read-time. You know, things have to sink in!
Let us hear about what you have been doing and we could probable grow on a few ideas, now that we have time, albeit enforced 🙂
I have been listing a few new year marketing articles to read. I am simply awed with the sheer numbers published. After reading about 25 of them with great attention, care, interest with an intent to learn, my top three are:
This is a trend that I have observed over the past few years. Every domain gets tonnes of “new year” articles that are published across every nook and corner of the internet. All of them are written very well, no doubt, and the effort taken to create such listicles is enormous. I love to read them year on year, especially those in my domain – digital marketing.
I read through each of those 25 with deep concentration and deepening concern. The end result is that I am really, really tired of these. Do you know why?
Many of these articles are recycled, the old one from 2018 is recycled and published in 2019 and then recycled again and published in 2020..! I mean how glorious does that sound?
As a result, they have the same information, most times and little more added to it. Has originality gone out of the window?
The best part is that all of us want to get indexed on the search engines and all that bots understand is text and a little more, a little variation here and there would get us through. What about the consumers, the visitors, the readers, mates? What about them?
Search engines are not paying us, visitors, consumers, readers are! Have we forgotten that, and what will you achieve putting stale food on the table? The table is what search engine props up, but the food needs to be fresh and different.
I will not go into any domains apart from mine and with all due respect to all those authors, marketing gurus and consumers and visitors out there, I write this with no malice towards anyone or an intent to criticize. And, this is what I found.
a. Let’s take a peek at the article a, listed out on top – “10 DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR 2020”. First, the capitalization of the heading puts me off, tells me that someone is shouting at me. Micheal Brenner’s perspective is very good and the quality of writing is just awesome. The article lists out 10 trends, where CX [Customer Experience], Employee Engagement, Visualization, Personalization, Tracking SERP positions, Voice Search, Customer retention and loyalty and live video which are all old concepts rewritten as new.
For example CX, employee engagement, visualization, SERP tracking, and customer retention and loyalty have been in practice for over 4 years now. Personalization, voice search, and live video are the stuff that we marketers have been practicing for the last three years or so.
We are left with Strategic marketing transformation that has been the underlying rule for all marketing practices and too generic, prevalent at all times. The only new trend is AI-based automation which is just entering the deployment phase and is not perfect.
Inference – I, as a marketer has learned nothing new, from the piece after spending 15 to 20 minutes of reading. Of course, budding or aspiring marketers could learn something, only if they are not on their toes practicing and learning every day.
b. In the article b listed above – “42 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2020”, Nidhi Dave has put across 42 beautiful marketing techniques that are not only old but also work. Of these, apart from Artificial Intelligence, Augmented reality and NeuroMarketing, the rest are all old concepts that we marketers always follow.
All those three are not perfected yet, so the options we have are all limited as of now. The beauty of this piece is that each of the 42 points is very well explained with illustrations and links to other resources. A very good piece all in all for marketers who are just entering the fray and not so much for the more seasoned ones.
A let down for me since I have been there and done that. Imagine, this took me more than an hour to read and at the end of it, I learned too little to write home about.
c. The article c listed above – “Marketing Trends for 2020: Here’s What Will Happen That Nobody is Talking About” by Neil Patel is expectedly the best of the lot since it speaks about digital marketing trends in 2020 and not so much about what and how to pursue the trends.
However, it does form a foundation to build upon our strategies after due diligence and research depending on the domain that we work in. However, it is a much shorter insight than expected. Where I come from, I am seeing personalization going off the marketing horizon by 2024 where AI takes on the mantle.
Interesting articles all of them. More interesting is that only article a, has the date of publication as 25th November 2019. Rest have no production dates or expiry dates.
They have been published a tad too soon, I guess since no one mentions Google’s January 2020 Core update or the crumbling of cookies or new methods on monetization that are in vogue.
I think we are all basking in the shade of old memories and writing memoirs. Being proactive is an essential quality of marketers, no need to write diaries but there is no harm in sharing experiences, that’s how the marketing community grows, harmoniously where everyone makes a worthy buck.
As for me, at efficaci, we have come up with some highly revolutionary ideas in content marketing and the application of artificial intelligence in digital marketing practices. In fact, we are already working hard on a few cloud-based apps that will bring about a change in the entire marketing landscape.
The online advertising world or the SEM industry is very compact yet a complex one. Search advertising or search engine marketing as some would prefer to call it, are being mainstreamed in myriad ways with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms. And these changes have a significant, if not a critical influence on how you approach your search advertising.
Without a contention, Google AdWords and Facebook Ads take the major chunk of the search engine marketing market. In this post, we will look at how AI has influenced both these platforms, where they are headed, and how you can make the most of your campaigns, given that every business likes to get more out of the advertising buck.
Google AdWords – Getting more value
Google has been slowly incorporating AI into its AdWords framework as a result of which there is a greater scope of opportunities. They could be getting one up on the competition, or saving time for strategic thinking by automating low-level tasks. Let us look at a few ways in which you can make more from your AdWords campaigns.
Weeding out poor performing ads
The first scenario, clicks rolling in but no sales or conversions is a disastrous scenario for any campaign. This means you are leaking money without any ROI.
The second scenario, getting bids on an advert but not clicks, your quality score [QS] goes for a toss. End of the day, your ROI takes the fall.
Imagine the time taken to filter out these ads, analyze them and pausing them. If you are running a campaign for your business, it is easy, but in a scenario where you are handling multiple accounts, you will be spending all your time here without any time to create strategy.
How about using a machine learning [ML] algorithm to weed out these ads and pause them automatically? This will help in keeping your ROI intact as well as take care of QS.
Getting into the finer detail, your ML algorithm should be able to:
Abandon or pause the ad before it affects the ROI. Based on previous performance factors, it should be able to estimate potential gains and losses using statistical inference.
Analyze at a molecular level. The ML algorithm should be able to factor in other individual segments like mobile traffic, non-revenue producing browsers, times and days that see a poor performance and ad variations before it pauses the entire ad outright. With this analysis, it can close or fine-tune the non-performing factors one after another with realtime analysis.
“Automation and machine learning are a big emphasis on Google currently and our industry as a whole. The more we as practitioners can leverage these tools, the more time we can dedicate to higher-level strategy and other account growth opportunities.” – Josh Brisco, Sr. Manager, Retail Search Operations @ CPC Strategy
Using dynamic ads as a part of your SEM strategy
Dynamic search ads are an ML-based tool offered by Google AdWords as a part of the platform. These ads generate automatic headlines that can capture the attention of the searcher. All you need to do, is to create and upload the list of landing pages that you want to generate dynamic ads for. The tool will identify searches that it deems fit for your landing pages and generate ad content using the phrases from your landing pages. Sounds easy, but imagine doing it manually, if you are running multiple campaigns.
Using ML, AdWords also generates ad suggestions. Ignore them at your peril because these are generated using prior performance data. Incorporating them after due diligence will boost your results.
Dynamic ads can also be created using a custom ML algorithm that should incorporate:
External factors such as days and times.
Mix and match the audience, imagery and copy with multivariate testing using self-learning or evolutionary algorithms.
Used with due diligence, they could save your ROI and time.
Using automated bidding for best results
Using machine learning algorithms to cap your bidding, is becoming popular today. Bidding is a very important mechanism in search engine marketing – keeping your bids low means losing out on opportunities, and keeping them high means an ROI sacrifice.
Google Adwords comes with an automated bidding interface, however, it lacks the intelligence of maximizing your ROI. Maximizing ROI would require the input of certain external factors like seasonality, consumer trends, demographics, purchase behavior, and customer lifetime value amongst others.
A good ML algorithm for automated bidding must:
Be able to estimate the price range of each ad based on previous bids.
Calculate and factor in the click value from each click depending on the previous click data. For this, it should factor in the website data and this is a challenge. If you have multiple landing pages and keep removing or adding new ones, previous data that is fed to the algorithm could be bad or zero. Therefore, use the algorithm for aged landing pages only.
Identify the bidding landscape changes and results and adapt quickly to them instead of assuming that past performance guarantees future performance. This could be a big challenge for want of niche data.
Make use of existing platforms
What we discussed above could lead to an assumption that a custom ML algorithm is a necessity. However, we are speaking about marketing and hiring data scientists would be a waste of money and time when there are a platforms that could be leveraged to do the needful. Let us look at some:
Trapica: The best part of this tool is that it can scale your campaigns by identifying the right audiences and matching them to creatives thus optimizing bidding.
Acquisio: Built for Bing, AdWords, and Facebook ads, this ML platform helps you cut CPC and CPA while raising clicks and conversions.
Frank: Works with Facebook ads and AdWords and connects to millions of publishers. Frank is automated to launch campaigns and optimizes them by channel, creative and target audience.
Cognitiv: This tool uses deep learning and predicts the best spends using customization based on historic data for each brand, based on historical data.
Google has already announced its “AI-first” future when Sundar Pichai highlighted their efforts of expanding and integrating AI and ML capabilities across their products, 2 years ago.
Apart from the Google AdWords platform, choosing an alternative to create and control spending could be a challenge, however, knowing your requirements well and comparing it with the features of your chosen platform, will be a wise way to go about it.
Facebook ads – Improving campaign performance
Unlike Google, Facebook has a lot more relevant data about users. The recent scandals, albeit negative, are evidence to this fact. Concerns over private and personal data are not misplaced. Commerzbank and Mozilla have taken a negative stand over security concerns.
However, this goldmine of data that Facebook has, used with security and in a proper manner can result in much better insights about user preferences, tastes, and behavior. This will also help run relevant and personalized campaigns that can get better results, additionally, users can breathe easy without the generic ad bombardment every time they log in.
This filtered data is used by Facebook to help marketers create ad campaigns and the platform churns out a host of automated optimization options, helping marketers run effective ad campaigns.
Let us look at Facebook’s ML capabilities that can help you achieve this.
The importance of campaign objectives
The best part of the Facebook ad manager is that it wants you to specify a campaign objective, unlike any other platforms. Most other platforms give you objectives that are not specific to a simple goal. For example, one ad campaign cannot raise brand awareness, get you more reach or traffic and still get you a good ROI. One campaign for one objective is what works.
First up, while creating a campaign, you must understand what is to be achieved. The ad manager gives you thirteen options to choose from. Remember, campaign objective is not a cosmetic attribute. It will define the reach and placement of your ad. For example, if you choose “video views, Facebook’s AI algorithm will place the ad in front of people where there is a better chance of viewing, derived from user behavior.
Once chosen, the campaign objective cannot be changed post-launch. If I was doing it for my business, I would choose “conversions” and choose the sub-objective higher up as a CTA. This will help me keep my campaign, unique amongst all those ads looking for clicks.
Criticality of placement
Facebook looks at making money and this is the reason why most campaigns have placements offered this way. The more the ad serve, the more money Facebook makes, however, for marketers, choosing all placements will result in placement optimization through Facebooks’s AI algorithm. It is a win-win situation.
When chosen, the algorithm will decide where to place your ads considering the lowest CPM (Cost per thousand impressions). Placement optimization can save up to 20% costs when “Facebook newsfeed” and right-hand column are selected manually.
There are strategies that you can create using add-ons like Instant Articles, In-Stream and FAN, but brand safety becomes a concern there. Though there are filters available to categorize the placement, the newsfeed is a better choice considering the brand. A small price to pay, but worth it.
Optimizing ad delivery
If using campaign objectives was one part of the delivery mechanism, you still have options to further customize “Optimize for ad delivery”
Here, you will see options depending on the campaign objective you chose, and you can further focus on building a user persona to deliver those ads. “Value” is the latest addition to the list of choices.
AI Marketing is the future and has already turned into a mainstream feature in the search engine marketing or the PPC space. Micromanaging keywords and bids is no more a marketer’s job, it can be taken care of by simple algorithms, while strategy takes the center-stage for marketing success. Many industries are yet to include automation into their marketing and the first players to adopt AI/ML technology will see a quick boost.
Over 2.4 billion people across the globe and about 70% Americans use social media and it is critical that businesses leverage this channel with best marketing practices to shore up their bottom-lines. Be it marketing, support or sales, social media has become a big weapon in the marketing arsenal. It is an invaluable asset in terms of customers interacting with the brand and vice-versa. With millions of tweets, likes, and interactions being generated by the minute, it is impossible for big brands to keep up with the data flow. Human intervention in the form of employees takes the front seat, however, even the biggest of brands have at best, “tiny” social media teams. This is where AI SMM or Artificial intelligence-based social media marketing comes in. The situation today is – a business that ignores the capabilities of AI SMM loses out on a multitude of opportunities.
Automation is the only answer to the deluge of data that is growing by the day. But automation has its limitations and so does a human brain. Crunching huge amounts of data is not a human specialty and talking and interacting with humans is not a strong point of automation, at least not yet. Humans have to prioritize on data crunched by automation software (AI SMM) to create engagement opportunities, so the entire situation becomes symbiotic, where one part is human intellect and the other is artificial intelligence. Let us look at some areas in which AI can transform social media marketing for magical results. This is what we term as AI SMM.
1. The complement of human intelligence and AI SMM
AI applications and human beings form a complementary team in a social media marketing or SMM process. AI is growing leaps and bounds through extensive research in terms of natural language processing. However, real-time and targeted engagement remains a challenge. Whereas, human beings, on the other hand, are adept at engagement while they fail at crunching massive amounts of data that AI can achieve in seconds. This complementary relationship between AI and the human brain can be put to use effectively when deployed with a well-thought out strategy. AI SMM, fine-tuned, is also capable of removing noise and deliver useful data to an SMM marketer, so that he can be effective and quick in his approach to engage and convert.
Chatbots are not only used on website frontends but have also found use in the social media marketing niche. Chatbots are evolving quickly and today they are used to handle smaller customer issues while the bigger ones are delegated to human intervention. This translates to effective use of human potential. Chatbots are equipped to create and handle multiple conversations at the same time and are available 24/7. This, I have already discussed in one of my previous blog posts – AI-Based Marketing – 12 winsome AI ideas to leapfrog your efforts.
The fact that over 60% of customers expect an answer to their complaints in 60 minutes or less is a reality. By deploying chatbots on customer support platforms, they can help keep customers happy and improve retention rates. Not that chatbots will resolve all queries, but they can keep a customer engaged while flagging humans for faster resolution of issues. Chatbots can also prioritize complaints and help boost social media engagement by better customer interaction.
3. Post intelligence
Artificial intelligence is capable of identifying engagement opportunities on social media. A business called post intelligence has developed an application called PI that can track social trends in a given niche. The tracking data is then matched to the user’s recent posts and level of engagements thus creating an opportunity to fine-tune or recommend content that can be posted. It also has the capability of generating social media posts. As a social media marketer, you can imagine the possibilities here.
Pinterest has acquired a business called Kosei to add to its AI capabilities and predict personalized recommendations for users depending on their interests and search data. Kosei uses a recommendation modeling algorithm to help Pinterest churn out relevant results.
Bright is a job search business acquired by LinkedIn in 2014. Bright used machine learning to match employment opportunities with candidates. The bright algorithm helps LinkedIn to assess hiring patterns, work experience, locational preferences, and other myriad data to score candidates for a given employer. LinkedIn adds a new dimension to its job opportunities section by integrating Bright in addition to its data making it a more focussed hiring portal.
6. Slack bots
Slack bots throw guesswork out of the window for social media marketers. This AI SMM tool helps them to develop effective posts to promote their brands more effectively while suggesting content. Slack bots are seeing deployment in content marketing too since they are adept at analyzing niche content and suggesting the next steps. In the case of SMM, they analyze the posts on specific social media platforms based on the suggested niche. Slack bots can also predict engagement success rates by comparing your posts to others, especially the promoted ones. In short, they help create effective and focussed social media campaigns by taking out the guesswork.
On of the best AI, SMM technologies have been deployed by Facebook to engage and enhance customer interaction. Facial recognition saves time on tagging on the Facebook platform. It is still in the early times, but with facial recognition history, Facebook may use the data to deploy the algorithm to suggest products, offers, and places.
8. Marketing Automation using text mining
AI’s machine learning technology is enabling text mining and it will be very helpful for marketing automation techniques. Text mining algorithms are meant to analyze both, structured as well as unstructured data, analyze, and predict customer behavior trends. In turn, this will help marketing automation in terms of hyper-personalization which is lacks in today’s marketing strategies. It can also predict the correct times for social media posting, and will help reach a diverse audience to create maximum impact of social media marketing campaigns.
There are many tools like Buffer, HootSuite, and Co-schedule that can help you automate social media marketing by scheduling posts for a month or more, depending on your SMM strategy. So, what will take weeks can be achieved in a coupled of hours. However, they will not help with interactions or engagements, and human interaction is necessary.
There are many AI solutions out there, but there is no holistic solution that can serve the purpose. It is necessary to choose wisely and ensure that your choices add value to business. They should be deployed to extract holistic, actionable intelligence for the business and not as a solution to a subset of a marketing process. In the case of social media, they should be capable of uncovering insights and should help build customer-centric social media marketing strategy. Using social media automation tools creatively is the secret sauce that CMO’s need to figure out.
For more help on creating an effective AI-based social media strategy, get in touch with us today.