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AI Will Replace Social Media Team Roles and Flatten Social Media Marketing Team Hierarchies

Social media has evolved from a supplementary marketing tool to an essential avenue for engaging with customers, building brand reputation, and driving business growth. Yet, the economic challenges of creating and sustaining an effective social media team can be daunting.

The advent of generative AI is reshaping the social media advertising and marketing landscape, offering innovative ways to save money and achieve superior results. This article will delve into paid and organic aspects of social media marketing, exploring the economic challenges and showcasing how AI transforms the game.

Measuring ROI in Social Media Marketing

One of the most significant economic challenges in social media marketing is measuring the elusive return on investment (ROI). Unlike traditional marketing channels, the impact of social media on revenue is often indirect and long-term. Brands often struggle to quantitatively assess the concrete financial gains attributable to their social media efforts, making it challenging to justify the costs involved.

There’s no doubt that managing an excellent reputation and building advocates who spread the word about your brand, products, or services provides a better return than any other social media effort. Several companies have achieved incredible results through social media and customer advocacy without substantial investments in traditional marketing. Here are a few notable examples:

  • Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer led by Elon Musk, has minimal advertising and marketing expenses compared to traditional automakers. Instead, they rely heavily on social media and word-of-mouth marketing. Tesla’s passionate fan base and Musk’s active presence on Twitter have created a strong community of advocates who eagerly promote the brand.
  • Airbnb has built a successful business model around user-generated content and customer advocacy. They encourage hosts and guests to share their experiences on social media, creating a network effect where satisfied users attract new users. Airbnb’s social media strategy primarily revolves around user-generated content and community engagement.
  • GoPro, the action camera company, thrives on user-generated content. They encourage customers to share their adventure videos and photos captured with GoPro cameras on social media. This approach has led to a wealth of user-generated content that promotes the brand and its products without significant marketing spend.
  • Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, has gained a strong following on social media due to its exceptional customer service and company culture. They actively engage with customers on social platforms, fostering a sense of community and loyalty. Customer testimonials and stories often feature prominently in their marketing efforts.
  • Dollar Shave Club disrupted the razor industry with humorous and viral marketing videos that gained widespread attention on social media. While they invested in creating these videos, the content’s shareability and word-of-mouth promotion led to significant growth without traditional advertising campaigns.
  • Red Bull is known for its extreme sports and adventure content. They invest heavily in creating engaging content and sponsor extreme sports events. Their social media strategy focuses on sharing exciting content, and their brand has become synonymous with action and adventure.
  • While Coca-Cola is a giant in the advertising industry, they’ve embraced user-generated content (UGC) through campaigns like Share a Coke. By encouraging customers to share photos and stories related to their products, Coca-Cola has leveraged social media to strengthen brand loyalty.
  • Warby Parker, an eyewear company, relies on social media to showcase its stylish and affordable glasses. They encourage customers to share photos wearing their frames, creating a sense of community and authenticity around the brand.
  • Chick-fil-A has cultivated a strong following on social media by engaging with customers and promptly responding to comments and messages. Their approach to customer service and community building on social platforms has contributed to their success.

These examples demonstrate that companies can achieve remarkable results with a customer-centric approach, strong brand identity, and active engagement on social media without heavy investments in traditional marketing channels. Building a loyal customer base and fostering advocacy can often be more impactful than traditional advertising for certain brands and industries.

But these examples are not the majority. Many companies have invested heavily in social media only to be disappointed at the massive scaled resources needed to achieve minimal success. Additional expenses include:

  1. Content Creation Costs: Crafting diverse and engaging content, including videos, graphics, and written posts, can be a costly endeavor. Hiring skilled content creators, videographers, and graphic designers adds to the overall expenses of a social media team.
  2. Ad Budget Competition: Paid advertising space on social media platforms is fiercely competitive, leading to increased costs per click and impression. Maintaining visibility necessitates larger budgets, straining financial resources.
  3. Platform Diversity: Each social media platform requires tailored strategies and content. Managing multiple platforms effectively can be resource-intensive, particularly for smaller teams with limited resources.
  4. Talent Retention: Attracting and retaining top talent in social media marketing can be challenging. In-demand skills often come with high salary expectations, which can strain budgets.
  5. Data Privacy and Compliance: Adhering to data privacy regulations like GDPR and platform-specific policies can be complex and time-consuming, requiring significant investment in compliance efforts.

Social media specialist jobs have flatlined in North America, largely due to economic pressures. Interestingly, much of this slowdown happened during the pandemic… when online consumer behavior skyrocketed.

Social Media Jobs over time
Source: Zippia

There’s no doubt that companies invested heavily and scaled their social media marketing efforts over the years, but I fear those days are behind us. Social media teams are already quite small… and shrinking.

51% of social media teams are made up of one person, while 43% have 2–4 team members, and only 6% have 5 or more.

West Virginia University

Social media marketing has all of the critical aspects that AI can utilize – endless streams of big data to analyze, learn, respond, and optimize results. It’s a perfect match!

AI-Powered Social Media Marketing

The emergence of generative AI is a game-changer in addressing these challenges. Here’s how AI is revolutionizing both paid and organic aspects of social media marketing:

  • AI-Powered Content Creation: AI can generate high-quality content, reducing the need for extensive human input and lowering content creation costs.
  • AI-Enhanced Audience Targeting: AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify precise target audiences, improving the efficiency of paid advertising campaigns and reducing ad budget wastage.
  • AI-Driven Analytics: AI-powered analytics tools can extract valuable insights from data and provide actionable recommendations, helping marketers optimize their strategies and demonstrate ROI more effectively.
  • Automated Social Media Management: AI-driven social media management tools can schedule posts, engage with users, and even moderate content, reducing the time and resources required for organic social media efforts.
  • AI-Enhanced Personalization: AI can personalize content and recommendations for individual users, increasing organic engagement and building stronger customer relationships.
  • AI-Backed Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots can handle customer inquiries 24/7, improving customer service and reducing the burden on human staff.

By integrating AI into your social media marketing strategy, you can overcome economic challenges more effectively and achieve superior results. AI-driven content generation reduces costs, while improved audience targeting and analytics boost the efficiency of paid advertising campaigns. Automated management tools streamline organic efforts, and enhanced personalization builds stronger customer connections.

Social Media Teams: Pre and Post-AI

There’s a dramatic change in the human resources and talent needed to execute scalable social media marketing strategies before and after artificial intelligence. Let’s look at what these teams now look like:

Traditional Social Media Team

  • Social Media Manager/Director: Oversees social media strategy and team, manages the budget, sets goals, and coordinates cross-channel marketing efforts.
    • Content Creator: Develops content strategy and the content calendar. Produces written content and coordinates with visual resources.
    • Media Creator: Develops graphical, visual, and video content for content creation.
    • Community Manager: Monitors and engages with the audience. Responds to comments and builds relationships to grow the community and promote advocacy.
    • Paid Social Media Specialist/Advertising Manager: Manages paid advertising campaigns. Optimizes targeting and ad performance.
    • Analytics Specialist: Analyzes social media data and provides insights. Measures KPIs and assesses strategy effectiveness.

AI-Powered Social Media Team

Social Media Manager/Director: Oversees social media strategy and team; manages the budget; incorporates AI tools, reporting, ethics, and brand consistency; sets goals; and coordinates cross-channel marketing efforts.

  • AI-Content Strategist: Utilizes AI insights to optimize content strategy and collaborates with AI-generated content platforms, managing prompts.
  • AI-Advertising Specialist: Utilizes AI algorithms to optimize paid advertising. Collaborates with AI for audience targeting and personalization.
  • AI-Community Manager: Trains AI to engage with the audience to build community and advocacy.

AI-integrated team structures combine the roles of content creator/editor, community manager/engagement specialist, and paid social media specialist into AI-enhanced positions. The AI-driven specialists collaborate with the AI-Content Strategist and AI-Advertising Specialist to optimize content creation and paid advertising efforts. AI-Community managers can spend their time on the exceptional issues while offboarding or properly routing repeat issues.

This streamlined approach maintains efficiency and effectiveness while reducing the personnel required for certain tasks.

Is Your Job At Risk?

If you’re not advancing your knowledge and understanding of deploying AI tools for content creation, prompting AI, training AI models, AI-powered optimization, scaling your personalization intelligently, and using AI to analyze your social media marketing strategy… yes!

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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