The Good, The Bad, and the Artificial: Our Take On Meta AI

It’s April 23rd, 2024. You wake up, drag yourself out of bed, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and open up the Facebook app on your phone to see what you missed while you were sleeping. You hit the search button to look something up and there it is: “Ask Meta AI anything”. You’re stunned, still a bit groggy from the night before, and think maybe you’re hallucinating. You ask yourself, “Was this…always here?” Obviously the answer is “No”, but still, you think Facebook is playing a trick on you. 

You jump over to Instagram, and – OMG – there it is again. Instagram all of a sudden wants you to ask it anything, when all you wanted to do was go to the ESPN account and catch some highlights from last night’s game. In a single morning, your experience with your favorite Meta apps got a little more…artificially intelligent. And guess what? You can’t turn it off.

Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker, hoarding canned food and cut off from the rest of the world (which actually sounds kind of awesome), you’re probably quite aware that AI is everywhere. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has the same brand recognition as Coke and McDonald’s, countless think pieces have been published raving about its endless possibilities, and now it lives rent free, front and center, in Meta’s user interface (as well as behind the scenes). So is Meta’s choice to integrate AI into its platform in a very up front way a good thing or a bad thing? Can it be both? Let’s discuss…

What the Heck is a Llama 3?

First, we need to break down how Meta AI works. The tech giant has invested heavily in its open-sourced AI tool called Llama 3, and claims that it rivals the ChatGPTs and Geminis of the world. Now that they’ve literally put it in the hands of everybody with a Facebook account, its functionality will surely get put to the test. 

Cool. So, like, what does it do, exactly? Well, in simple terms, it’s meant to further personalize the experience of Meta’s platforms, including content delivery with more relevant and engaging experiences tailored to user’s interests and preferences. It also helps identify harmful content (like hate speech and fake news), allows advertisers more precise targeting abilities, and improves accessibility features for users with disabilities. Now, that doesn’t sound all bad, does it?

The Artificial Elephant in the Room

Not so fast, Mr. Positive! There’s some obvious concerns with Meta AI (and AI in general), including how it affects user privacy. There’s also some worry around the fact that AI algorithms are prone to bias, which can result in discriminatory outcomes (think disproportionately targeting certain demographic groups with ads or content, which could fuel existing inequalities). Other concerns, like the fact that relying too much on automation can lead to errors, or the underlying concern that, you know, AI is going to take all our jobs one day…and yeah, the future might seem a little more Idiocracy than we’d like.

Get Your AI Outta My Search Bar (Or Maybe Keep It? I’m Not Sure)

But let’s talk about the AI elephant in the room – that dang “Ask Meta AI anything” addition to the search bar, chat, and elsewhere. First, let’s dig into what it does. 

According to Meta, users can interact with the new AI search feature through the platform’s search bar or dedicated search pages. By entering keywords or phrases related to their interests, users can access personalized search results generated by Meta’s AI algorithms. As users engage with search results and recommendations, Meta’s AI continuously learns and adapts to better serve their needs, providing a more intuitive and personalized search experience over time. On vacation and want to know the best restaurant near you? Ask Meta AI. Want to get the latest tour dates for your favorite band? Ask Meta AI. Need some tips on how to take wildlife photos? You get it.

Screenshot of Meta AI search bar on Instagram

Oh, and you can also ask it to imagine a hot dog eating a taco eating a hamburger, if you want (it’s not perfect, by the way).

Screenshot of Meta AI chat. Asked to image a hot dog eating a taco eating a hamburger, replying with a picture of hot dogs and burgers inside taco shells.

So yeah, that all seems cool, right? So why are people – like TikTok user @psithuristicdesire – SO PISSED about it?

@psithuristicdesire

AI HAS BEEN PISSING ME OFF BUT THIS IS TOO MUCH

♬ original sound – Star

Or what about X user @MaKaylaMaShelle?

What’s the Big Deal?

So what’s got these folks so fired up? Is it privacy concerns? Is it content bias? Maybe? But we think it’s something way more simple: Sometimes AI is kind of annoying. 

Look, people hate change. It’s been proven time and time again. But, at the same time, change is inevitable. In the world of social media apps and technology, change is literally happening all the time. There’s not a day that goes by that some social media platform rolls out a change (we see you X), and for better or worse, users have to deal with it or leave the platform. 

The truth is, a lot of these changes are easy to ignore (or in some cases, deactivate). For example, when Instagram launched its Notes feature a few years ago, it only appeared in the messages section of the app. And guess what? It’s still there. It’s out of the way, not invasive, and you can turn a blind eye to it, more or less. But by putting Meta’s AI search functionality in sections of Facebook and Instagram that are engaged with daily by its users, the experience is way more in your face, invasive, and hard to ignore. Sure, you can bypass the AI by just, you know, typing in your search, but the lack of control and even just seeing the words “AI” can send some users into a tailspin.

So, Can You Turn It Off?

Nope. And if you’re Meta, that’s kind of the point. The tech world has essentially turned into an AI arms race, and Meta wants to make sure it’s at the front of the pack. By integrating AI into everything from search to chat, Meta is essentially indoctrinating its users into accepting the technology as part of their everyday lives, likely to the point where they just get used to it and give up complaining. 

Ok, so you can’t turn it off. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Are there some workarounds?” The short answer is yes, but they might not be universally loved. For instance, you can “mute” the AI feature, but once disabled you can no longer use the search bar at all. You can also hop in a time machine and use a basic version of Facebook (intended for users in developing countries with slower Internet connections), but that won’t help you if you’re an Instagram or WhatsApp devotee. In other words, “womp womp”.

What’s Our Take?

You’re probably wondering what a social and tech-forward agency like Random thinks of all this. Well, it depends. We use AI all the time (heck, we even wrote a children’s book using AI technology). As a small team of content creators, it helps us work smarter and quicker than ever before. 

In the case of Meta AI, there’s loads of benefits for content creators and social media managers, like:

All that said, it’s hard to not feel exhausted by AI popping up in every platform under the sun. Kind of like your drunk uncle that keeps interrupting that really important story you’re trying to tell at a family gathering. Sometimes we just want to perform simple tasks without AI trying to help all the damn time. 

What Should You Do?

So whether you love it or hate it, Meta continues to deploy AI-driven solutions. It’s essential to weigh the benefits against the risks and ensure that these technologies are deployed responsibly and ethically. And ask it to make you a picture of a hot dog eating at taco eating a hamburger from time to time.

Want to work with an agency that takes a realistic approach to AI solutions? Contact us today!

Time of The Season: The Importance of Seasonal and Timely Social Media Content

When it comes to social media marketing, creating content that is timely and relevant to your audience has loads of benefits, from increasing engagement and reach to diversifying your content mix. From holiday celebrations to trending topics, embracing the moment can propel your brand’s visibility and engagement to new heights. While this may not be news to you, doing so may be more challenging than you would think. Luckily for you, we’re here to show you how to easily integrate this strategy and make your next content planning brainstorm a breeze.

What Is Seasonal and Timely Content?

First, we need to define what seasonal and timely content is. Seasonal and timely content can come in all shapes and sizes, from a national holiday or a social media-friendly holiday (more on that in a minute) to a viral meme or a breaking news event. These timely moments provide an opportunity for brands to join the conversation and connect with their audience in a meaningful way. 

Examples of seasonal content can be focused around major holidays, like Halloween, Christmas, and Memorial Day. Digging even deeper, unofficial holidays (or social media holidays, as we like to refer to them) like National Pizza Day or International Dog Day can also be great inspiration for content. 

Finally, timely and trending content, such as referencing the release of a new Taylor Swift album, the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament, or social trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Harlem Shake, or the Mannequin Challenge, have all been capitalized on by social media managers in hopes of resonating with their audience (or even finding a new one). 

Cosmetics retailer Sephora (amongst many, many other brands) were ready to capitalize on the announcement of Taylor Swift’s new album, The Tortured Poets Department. Inspired by the album’s cover, featuring a black and white image of Swift relaxing in bed, Sephora replaced her with a cat and branded bag, promoting their “Rouge” loyalty program. The post garnered Sephora over 81k likes, almost 250 comments, and over 7k shares on Instagram, much higher metrics than an average post on their feed.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sephora (@sephora)

By aligning your content with these cultural touchpoints, you can increase brand visibility, foster deeper connections with your audience, help increase social metrics and – gasp! – even sales if done right.

Why Does Seasonal and Timely Content Work?

Algorithm Benefits

If you’re looking to add some new flavors to your social content without reinventing the wheel, timely content allows brands to leverage the algorithmic preferences of social media platforms, increasing the likelihood of their content being seen by a wider audience. Platforms like Instagram and X prioritize recent and relevant content, making timely posts more likely to appear on users’ feeds and timelines. By staying attuned to the trends and conversations happening on social media, brands can optimize their content strategy to maximize visibility and reach.

Content Diversity

In addition to the algorithmic benefits, creating seasonal and timely content helps diversify the content on your social media feed. Think of your social media channels as a television station. While you may favor different types of television programs, including sports, comedy, etc., most television stations do not air the same show over and over again. And as much as some of us would love a station that played, say, episodes of Friends on repeat, at some point viewers will become bored.

The same goes for the content posted to social media platforms. By creating content around real and social-media friendly holidays, or doing your best to jump on a trend, you are instantly adding variety to your content that might be difficult to achieve otherwise. Any content creator will tell you that it can be challenging to find new ways to say the same thing. Adding a seasonal strategy to your content creation approach will likely be the spice that your social content main course is missing.

Brand Personality

Finally, tapping into seasonal trends allows brands to showcase their creativity and personality, demonstrating agility and relevance in a seriously bloated social media environment. From themed campaigns to interactive content, brands can leverage seasonal moments to stand out from the competition and capture the attention of their target audience. Whether it’s creating Halloween-themed posts in October or sharing festive content during the holiday season, embracing seasonal trends enables brands to stay top-of-mind and drive engagement.

Bonus tip: Remember to include relevant hashtags when posting seasonal and timely content. Moreover, some social platforms – like Instagram – prioritize SEO over hashtag usage, so make sure to use your tags sparingly and be extra descriptive in your caption so your posts can reach the right audience.

How To Add Seasonal and Timely Content to Your Social Strategy

Now that we’ve explained what seasonal and timely content is and why you should be using it, it’s time to dig into how to bring this kind of content to life on your social feed.

Research Your Resources

First, it’s important to identify and bookmark some resources that track seasonal events, social holidays, and other relevant timely content. Our favorite resource is Sean’s Cultural Moment Encyclopedia, painstakingly (we assume) put together every year by former Apple “culture coach” Sean Choi. Choi has gone to the trouble of tracking events, holidays, observances, and even famous births and deaths into a spreadsheet that is free for anybody to use. Each category is separated by its own tab in a spreadsheet, with important dates and other information featured within. It’s essentially The Bible of seasonal and timely content, and we don’t know what we would do without it.

Spreadsheet listing federal, cultural, and religious holidays

Choi’s spreadsheet isn’t the only resource out there, however, with resources provided by the likes of Hubspot, Brandwatch, HeyOrca!, and SocialBee all featuring similar information. One thing to note is that we’re all human, so the information supplied by these resources could be incorrect, outdated, or change unexpectedly, so it’s always good to double check your information before posting. Nobody wants to post on National Donut Day when it’s actually National Taco Day. 

You might be thinking to yourself, “These resources are great, but they’re very holiday focused! How do I keep up with trends?” Well, we’re glad you asked. Social platforms like TikTok have their own creative hubs that track trends, inspirational content, and creative tools that will help you stay current with what’s landing on social media.

Screen showing TikTok's Creative Hub, with sections to see ad examples, trends, and creative guidance

Additionally, following trend spotting accounts like @WhatsTrending on Instagram or leveraging search resources like Google Trends can be the key to unlocking trending topics that can inspire some fire social media content for you and/or your brand.

Editorial Calendars and Monthly Briefs

Finally, in order to bring all of this together, we suggest adding two essential process-oriented elements to your strategy: an editorial calendar and a monthly brief. 

Your editorial calendar can be created at the beginning of the year, by quarter, by season…whatever works best for you. What’s important is that you use it to track the cultural moments and holidays that are the most relevant to YOUR BRAND. Certainly not every trending topic and holiday are going to be, so be strategic about what you choose.

Once you have your editorial calendar situated, devote some time to creating a brief every month to do your research and get your thoughts together before you start creating your seasonal and timely content. This is a great way to compile what’s trending before you shift your focus to actually making something. Use the brief as a reference throughout the creative process, and if you have a team of content creators, make sure they have access so your content is consistent throughout the month. 

The Time Has Come

The importance of timely social media content cannot be overstated. By tapping into seasonal moments, cultural trends, and platform-specific preferences, brands can stay relevant, reach wider audiences, and drive engagement. All you have to do is create a process to integrate it in your content creation strategy, and you’ll be part of the conversation in no time. 

Ready to elevate your social media strategy with timely content? Contact us at That Random Agency to learn how we can help your social remain relevant, every time, all of the time.