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20/11/2019 – Innovation Series / Employment / Marketers / Artificial Intelligence / AI

Human Marketing: Our Last Defence Against AI?


Over the next decade or two, an astounding number of jobs could be replaced or at least altered due to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Both blue-collar and white-collar jobs will be affected, according to AI expert Kai-Fu Lee, who predicts that around 40 per cent of all jobs globally will be displaced within 15 years. Within this context, asks author and keynote speaker Carlos Gil, is human marketing our last defence against AI?


For marketers, AI could present job security concerns as, increasingly, AI can handle tasks such as social media engagement, content creation, scheduling and analytics. However, as marketing becomes more automated and AI-driven, there’s an opportunity for marketers to thrive by increasing their focus on humanising their brands and spending more time building real relationships with customers online. 


People still want to buy from people


AI can make marketers more efficient, and it’s even possible to build an entire persona from AI, such as how Lil Miquela is a computer-generated influencer with 1.6 million Instagram followers at the time of writing. But generally speaking, people still want to connect with real people, and more importantly for marketers, they want to buy from brands that showcase their human sides – for example, the real employees, customers and other stakeholders behind that company.


As a study by Futerra and the Consumer Goods Forum found, 94 per cent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand offering complete transparency. Moreover, the study notes that a clear trend emerged from the research, which is that there’s a need to humanise transparency, in the sense that the ultimate goal of product transparency should be to cause the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is related to trust. 


Human marketers have the capability to truly connect with customers, display empathy, and directly answer difficult questions that an automated marketing tool may struggle to accomplish. The key is to let the humans behind your brand shine their personalities, rather than sticking to a corporate line and hiding behind a logo.


Think about your own experience as a consumer: do you want to read generic, salesy posts or a link to an article that could have been written by a bot? Or would you rather engage with a brand where there’s clearly some personality behind it, like a CEO who shares their experiences on LinkedIn about the ups and downs of running a business, or a brand channel that highlights real customer stories?


Community is king 


Part of humanising your brand and a way that human marketers can stand apart from AI is to spend more time engaging in real conversations than they do pushing out content. That’s because community is king. Even if you have great content, that means nothing if you don’t have a community that will see and engage with your content. 


So far, AI hasn’t been too successful in building genuine community. Social media bots can be used to automatically like and comment on posts, which can help gain followers, but consumers are also getting smarter and realising the difference between automated messages and genuine, human responses.


For example, think about how automated call centres can offer some value in efficiency, but it can also be incredibly frustrating for consumers to deal with a machine when they want to talk to a real human who can help solve their problem. In marketing, the same can apply, where you can turn customers off with automated engagement, and you can delight customers by directly responding in a genuine way.


In building community online, you can go even further, such as by asking customers for their opinions on different products and services to inform your marketing and sales strategies, or by jumping into conversations to offer solutions when customers are talking about bad experiences with your competitors.


Take advantage of this ability to directly listen and respond to customer conversations about your brand, your competitors and your industry by using social media platforms as search engines. When you find relevant conversations and respond in a helpful, human way, you can build brand loyalty and trust. 


Having a more engaged community can also help grow your own network, as those who have an affinity for your brand are more likely to organically spread the word within their own networks. And as social media algorithms increasingly prioritise content from individuals over brands, having that human connection and organic reach can make a huge difference.


Put a face to your brand


Going forward, companies that can put faces to their brands appear more likely to succeed, rather than those that maintain overly corporate, impersonal channels. Let customers feel like they can get to know you as a marketer, or at least demonstrate more personality in your engagement and content. 


AI can be a great tool to help you increase your efficiency as a marketer, such as using auto-generated messages to let customers know when you’ll be able to respond to DMs, but then having that human, personal response can make all the difference.


About the author

Carlos Gil is an international keynote speaker, and award-winning digital 

storyteller with over a decade of experience leading social media strategy for global brands including LinkedIn, Winn-Dixie, Save-A-Lot and BMC Software. 


‘The End of Marketing’ by Carlos Gil is out now, published by Kogan Page, and priced £14.99.

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