Mastering AI in Online Marketing: Transforming Social Media from Social to Watch Platforms
by Sarah Coften

The digital landscape, much like a bustling city, never sleeps. It’s always evolving, transforming, and introducing us to new norms. Recently, I’ve been pondering over how social platforms have quietly morphed into something more akin to a theatre than a town square. It’s a shift that’s both fascinating and slightly disconcerting.

“TikTok is not a social app.” is a declaration from TikTok themselves, in a recent tete-a-tete and training session with their team. This was not so much a revelation but an affirmation, as recently I have observed a shift across the platforms from social engines to suggestion engines. This means we need to urgently align social media strategy with search strategy for both discoverability and visibility in SERPs (search engine results pages). This is an area officially on watch at Smithfield with an ongoing dedicated team exploring the power of social and search combined for burgeoning brands. 

This brings us to the case of TikTok, along with giants like Meta and YouTube, who are pioneering a movement where platforms are no longer just about socializing but about consuming – watching, to be precise. It’s a stage for entertainment, learning, and inspiration. At Smithfield, we’ve observed this trend too, recognizing that customer journeys have all been impacted, as users flit between platforms ahead of converting. For a long time, this hasn’t been a straight line and we have been at the behest of the Google algorithms and reliant on SEO and Paid Search to navigate users down the funnel. Social engines powered by AI have now created new opportunities for us [marketers] and it’s more of an intricate courtship between brands and their audiences involving them in a dance of discovery, consideration, and interaction these days.

To harness the power and crack code to what works we need to take notice of how AI thinks and what powers the machines that are suggesting new and relevant content for users to discover. Users spend 1.5 hours a day on Tik Tok which means that paying more attention to conversion optimisation strategies as part of your social content strategy will help you align with the secret sauce to TikTok’s raving success. This isn’t just powered by their addictive content; it’s their “algorithm-friendly” design. TikTok dishes out content one bite at a time, gauging our reactions through likes, comments, and shares. This approach, though slightly less user-friendly, provides crystal clear feedback to their AI, allowing for a more tailored viewing experience. It’s like they’ve crafted a digital mirror reflecting our desires and interests. Taking note of each platforms bespoke design and creating content that fits and is designed for engagement takes dedicated resource and specialist knowledge. As media specialists this is an area that has become more of a focus for us in our media optimisation strategies and how we feed the machine learning with refreshed content to keep it alive and finding net new customers and audiences for our advertisers.

Aligning with the rhythm of AI-driven platforms, creating content that resonates with the evolving preferences of our audience. Taking their feedback and optimising through considered, engaging and often fun brand experience video content. Collaboration across different fields of marketing specialists is key to unlock the power of AI in this new era of marketing. At Smithfield we are blurring the lines and cross fertilising paid, organic, content and creative knowledge to create strategies needed to push advertisers forward in this new era of Ai driven marketing.

Understanding the nuances of TikTok’s recommendation engine can unlock new levels of audience engagement and content performance. It’s an invitation to step up our game, to craft strategies that not only resonate with our audience but also align with the intricate dance of algorithms.

As we stand at the crossroads of this transformation, the journey from ‘social’ to ‘watch’ platforms presents a thrilling challenge. It’s a call to embrace AI, to adapt our strategies and ensure we’re not just participants but frontrunners in this new era of digital marketing.

But here’s a human confession amidst all this tech talk – keeping up with these changes can be overwhelming. Just recently, a leading AI consultant in the UK shared that ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) juggles around 120 different AI tools, updated fortnightly! It’s a stark reminder that in this digital ecosystem, stagnation is akin to invisibility. We must continuously feed these algorithms with fresh, relevant content to stay connected with our audience.

In wrapping up, I reflect on TikTok’s concept of the ‘infinite feedback loop’ model of conversion. It’s a philosophy that resonates deeply with us at Smithfield. It acknowledges that the consumer’s journey is an evolving narrative, a loop of engagement where each interaction is an opportunity for growth and connection.

As we navigate this new terrain, our mission at Smithfield remains clear – to harness the transformative power of AI, to stay attuned to the pulse of our audience, and to craft stories that not only inform and entertain but also inspire. The road ahead is uncharted, but it’s undeniably exciting. Let’s embrace the journey, shall we?

If you find yourself nodding along or if this glimpse into the digital transformation has sparked a curiosity, an idea, or even a rebuttal, we’d love to hear from you. At Smithfield, we’re not just observers of change; we’re participants, innovators, and storytellers at the heart of this digital evolution. Whether you’re looking to redefine your brand’s digital strategy, explore new content horizons, map your path to conversion and scale with the right paid media mix or simply share your thoughts on the ever-changing social media landscape, we’re here to listen, collaborate, and navigate this journey together. Reach out to us, and let’s create something impactful, together. Contact Smithfield today – where we can look to the future together and begin your journey to planning for greater performance.

March 7, 2024

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