Guest Columns
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3 insights into how artificial intelligence is changing the social media game for publishers

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer a technology of the future – it’s a daily reality for many publishers of all sizes. AI now powers an increasing number of tools that journalists use to gather, produce and distribute content, including Echobox, the social media management platform we built specifically for publishers. 

With more than 700 publisher clients globally, including 25% of the world’s newspapers of record, we have access to a large and unique dataset that describes how AI can change the social media game for publishers. 

We recently completed an analysis of how these publishers use automation technology to manage their social media. Below are three insights into how they’re benefitting from AI, as well as best practices for increasing your own social media traffic. 

Insight #1: 25% of all publishers fully automate their social media distribution with AI

While 60% of publishers use automation to some degree for social media distribution, one in four publishers has adopted full automation. In other words, they never touch their social media posts and rely entirely on AI to share on their behalf. This includes which articles to post, which elements to include in the post (which headline and which image), and when to post. This is equivalent to Level 5 automation (= the highest level of automation) in driverless cars.

Why are publishers entrusting AI with their social media distribution?

Two main reasons drive publishers to adopt automation:

  • To save time by automating manual or repetitive tasks, so that editors, journalists, or social media teams can focus on higher-value activities such as:
  1. community management
  2. audience engagement
  3. creating and curating visual content for social and messaging networks (TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram…) 
  • To augment performance in a way that human management and judgment alone cannot achieve. An example of this is when Facebook changes its algorithm: AI can detect and reverse-engineer these changes far more accurately than a human ever could and then automatically adapt its social media strategy accordingly.

Publishers of all sizes automate their social media distribution. For smaller publishers faced with limited staffing or resources, it means that fewer people are required to post to social networks. Larger publishers with multiple pages can choose to fully automate all pages, or certain secondary pages (allowing their social media teams to focus on primary pages). 

Given that social media drives on average 15% of all traffic to publisher sites, and that 38% of publishers’ social posts are made using AI, we estimate that AI currently generates 6% of all traffic across the publishing industry.

Insight #2: 47% of all publishers use AI to automate new, first-time shares

How are publishers using AI to distribute content on social? We observe that nearly half (47%) of all publishers use AI to share newly published content. This means they rely on AI to:

  • evaluate all new articles
  • choose the best ones to share (based on performance predictions)
  • select the optimal post content (text and image)
  • determine the best posting time for each social channel

By automating first-time shares, publishers can spend their time curating existing content for reshares, and/or develop other aspects of their social media strategy like interacting with their community. 

Insight #3: 43% of all publishers use AI to share content outside of working hours 

Lastly, we observe that a significant number of publishers are using automation to keep shares flowing outside of business hours: 

  • 43% of publishers use AI to manage all posting outside of working hours
  • 48% of publishers use AI to manage all posting during weekends

By relying on AI for all social shares overnight, on weekends and during holidays, publishers ensure continuous and optimized coverage for their social audiences around the world. Some publishers also elect to “turn on” social media automation as a helping hand during particularly busy or challenging periods, like the one we’re experiencing at present due to the coronavirus pandemic. Moments like these provide a great example of how AI can support and augment human output rather than replacing it.

Best practices for better social media performance

Whether you already use automation for social media or are managing your social posts manually for now, here are a few best practices that could help increase your social media traffic:

  • It’s vital to post on social channels regularly and frequently to attract more traffic. Our data shows that unless you’re already sharing around 50 posts a day on Facebook, you likely can increase your posting volume further. However, avoid making any sudden and drastic changes to your posting patterns, as some social network algorithms penalize this. If you use an advanced social media publishing tool, it should be able to determine optimal posting frequency and volume.
  • Reshare to boost performance: Resharing old posts that performed well in the past is a simple way to maintain a high sharing frequency and increase social traffic. But be careful to ensure the content remains relevant rather than blindly selecting a high-performing post.
  • Post your best-performing content: Whether you have an internal scoring system or use a social media publishing platform like Echobox that automatically calculates a predictive score for each article (tailored to your audience on that social page), you should use these scores to guide your choices when deciding which content to share. 

AI has many further applications for publishers 

Automating content distribution on social media is just one way publishers are using AI to augment their efficiency and results. Prior to publication, some newsrooms are integrating AI into their newsgathering and creation processes in some truly innovative ways, from fact-checking and enriching metadata to writing news stories. For example, one of our Scandinavian customers is now using AI to predictively optimize article content prior to publication. They built an AI that can optimize stories in real-time as they are written according to the publisher’s own specific content-scoring criteria. 

AI is already changing the game for many of the world’s leading publishers. We believe AI has the most meaningful impact when used to enhance (not replace) human judgment and automate repetitive tasks, giving publishers the time and resources to apply their human talent where it will have the biggest impact on audiences. 

By Simran Cashyap,
Head of Product at Echobox

About: Echobox is a powerful social media publishing platform that’s been engineered from the ground up specifically for publishers. The only artificial intelligence solution that tailors to each publisher, Echobox maximizes traffic and revenue from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. More than 700 leading publishers worldwide use Echobox to share more than 10 million posts and reach billions of people each year.