How to Use AI For a More Effective Social Media Strategy, According to Ross Simmonds

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It’s the age of AI, and our job as marketers is to keep up.

My team at Foundation Marketing recently conducted an AI Marketing study surveying hundreds of marketers, and more than 84% of all leaders, managers, SEO experts, and specialists confirmed that they used AI in the workplace.

If you can overlook the fear-inducing headlines, this technology is making social media marketers more efficient and effective than ever. Translation: AI is good news for social media marketers.

In fact, I predict that the marketers not using AI in their workplace will be using it before the end of this year, and that number will move closer and closer to 100%.

Social media and AI are two of the most revolutionizing technologies of the last few decades. Social media has changed the way we live, and AI is changing the way we work.

So, I’m going to condense and share the data, research, tools, and strategies that the Foundation Marketing Team and I have been working on over the last year to help you better wield the collective power of AI and social media.

Let’s jump into it.

What’s the role of AI in social marketing strategy?

In a recent episode of my podcast, Create Like The Greats, we dove into some fascinating findings about the impact of AI on marketers and social media professionals. Take a listen here:

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the benefits of this technology:

Benefits of AI in Social Media Strategy

AI is to social media what a conductor is to an orchestra — it brings everything together with precision and purpose. The applications of AI in a social media strategy are vast, but the virtuosos are few who can wield its potential to its fullest.

AI to Conduct Customer Research

Imagine you’re a modern-day Indiana Jones, not dodging boulders or battling snakes, but rather navigating the vast, wild terrain of consumer preferences, trends, and feedback.

This is where AI thrives.

Using social media data, from posts on X to comments and shares, AI can take this information and turn it into insights surrounding your business and industry. Let’s say for example you’re a business that has 2,000 customer reviews on Google, Yelp, or a software review site like Capterra.

Leveraging AI you can now have all 2,000 of these customer reviews analyzed and summarized into an insightful report in a matter of minutes. You simply need to download all of them into a doc and then upload them to your favorite Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) to get the insights and data you need.

But that’s not all.

You can become a Prompt Engineer and write ChatGPT asking it to help you better understand your audience. For example, if you’re trying to come up with a persona for people who enjoy marathons but also love kombucha you could write a prompt like this to ChatGPT:

The response that ChatGPT provided back is quite good:

Below this it went even deeper by including a lot of valuable customer research data:

Demographics
Psychographics
Consumer behaviors
Needs and preferences

And best of all…

It also included marketing recommendations.

The power of AI is unbelievable.

Social Media Content Using AI

AI’s helping hand can be unburdening for the creative spirit.

Instead of marketers having to come up with new copy every single month for posts, AI Social Caption generators are making it easier than ever to craft catchy status updates in the matter of seconds.

Tools like HubSpot make it as easy as clicking a button and telling the AI tool what you’re looking to create a post about:

The best part of these AI tools is that they’re not limited to one channel.

Your AI social media content assistant can help you with LinkedIn content, X content, Facebook content, and even the captions that support your post on Instagram.

It can also help you navigate hashtags:

With AI social media tools that generate content ideas or even write posts, it’s not about robots replacing humans. It’s about making sure that the human creators on your team are focused on what really matters — adding that irreplaceable human touch.

Enhanced Personalization

You know that feeling when a brand gets you, like, really gets you?

AI makes that possible through targeted content that’s tailored with a level of personalization you’d think was fortune-telling if the data didn’t paint a starker, more rational picture.

What do I mean?

Brands can engage more quickly with AI than ever before. In the early 2000s, a lot of brands spent millions of dollars to create social media listening rooms where they would hire social media managers to find and engage with any conversation happening online.

Thanks to AI, brands now have the ability to do this at scale with much fewer people all while still delivering quality engagement with the recipient.

Analytics and Insights

Tapping into AI to dissect the data gives you a CSI-like precision to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what makes your audience tick. It’s the difference between guessing and knowing.

The best part about AI is that it can give you almost any expert at your fingertips.

If you run a report surrounding the results of your social media content strategy directly from a site like LinkedIn, AI can review the top posts you’ve shared and give you clear feedback on what type of content is performing, why you should create more of it, and what days of the week your content is performing best.

This type of insight that would typically take hours to understand.

Now …

Thanks to the power of AI you can upload a spreadsheet filled with rows and columns of data just to be met with a handful of valuable insights a few minutes later.

Improved Customer Service

Want 24/7 support for your customers?

It’s now possible without human touch.

Chatbots powered by AI are taking the lead on direct messaging experiences for brands on Facebook and other Meta properties to offer round-the-clock assistance.

The fact that AI can be trained on past customer queries and data to inform future queries and problems is a powerful development for social media managers.

Advertising on Social Media with AI

The majority of ad networks have used some variation of AI to manage their bidding system for years. Now, thanks to AI and its ability to be incorporated in more tools, brands are now able to use AI to create better and more interesting ad campaigns than ever before.

Brands can use AI to create images using tools like Midjourney and DALL-E in seconds.

Brands can use AI to create better copy for their social media ads.

Brands can use AI tools to support their bidding strategies.

The power of AI and social media is continuing to evolve daily and it’s not exclusively found in the organic side of the coin. Paid media on social media is being shaken up due to AI just the same.

How to Implement AI into Your Social Media Strategy

Ready to hit “Go” on your AI-powered social media revolution?

Don’t just start the engine and hope for the best. Remember the importance of building a strategy first. In this video, you can learn some of the most important factors ranging from (but not limited to) SMART goals and leveraging influencers in your day-to-day work:

The following seven steps are crucial to building a social media strategy:

Identify Your AI and Social Media Goals
Validate Your AI-Related Assumptions
Conduct Persona and Audience Research
Select the Right Social Channels
Identify Key Metrics and KPIs
Choose the Right AI Tools
Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media and AI Strategy

Keep reading, roll up your sleeves, and follow this roadmap:

1. Identify Your AI and Social Media Goals

If you’re just dipping your toes into the AI sea, start by defining clear objectives.

Is it to boost engagement? Streamline your content creation? Or simply understand your audience better? It’s important that you spend time understanding what you want to achieve.

For example, say you’re a content marketing agency like Foundation and you’re trying to increase your presence on LinkedIn. The specificity of this goal will help you understand the initiatives you want to achieve and determine which AI tools could help you make that happen.

Are there AI tools that will help you create content more efficiently? Are there AI tools that will help you optimize LinkedIn Ads? Are there AI tools that can help with content repurposing? All of these things are possible and having a goal clearly identified will help maximize the impact. Learn more in this Foundation Marketing piece on incorporating AI into your content workflow.

Once you have identified your goals, it’s time to get your team on board and assess what tools are available in the market.

Recommended Resources:

How to Write a SMART Goal

2. Validate Your AI-Related Assumptions

Assumptions are dangerous — especially when it comes to implementing new tech.

Don’t assume AI is going to fix all your problems.

Instead, start with small experiments and track their progress carefully.

3. Conduct Persona and Audience Research

Social media isn’t something that you can just jump into.

You need to understand your audience and ideal customers. AI can help with this, but you’ll need to be familiar with best practices. If you need a primer, this will help:

Once you understand the basics, consider ways in which AI can augment your approach.

4. Select the Right Social Channels

Not every social media channel is the same.

It’s important that you understand what channel is right for you and embrace it.

The way you use AI for X is going to be different from the way you use AI for LinkedIn. On X, you might use AI to help you develop a long-form thread that is filled with facts and figures. On LinkedIn however, you might use AI to repurpose a blog post and turn it into a carousel PDF. The content that works on X and that AI can facilitate creating is different from the content that you can create and use on LinkedIn.

The audiences are different.

The content formats are different.

So operate and create a plan accordingly.

Recommended Tools and Resources:

18 YouTube Templates for Business
How to Use Twitter for Business (+ Follower Tracking Template)

5. Identify Key Metrics and KPIs

What metrics are you trying to influence the most?

Spend time understanding the social media metrics that matter to your business and make sure that they’re prioritized as you think about the ways in which you use AI.

These are a few that matter most:

Reach: Post reach signifies the count of unique users who viewed your post. How much of your content truly makes its way to users’ feeds?
Clicks: This refers to the number of clicks on your content or account. Monitoring clicks per campaign is crucial for grasping what sparks curiosity or motivates people to make a purchase.
Engagement: The total social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This metric reveals how effectively your audience perceives you and their readiness to engage.

Of course, it’s going to depend greatly on your business.

But with this information, you can ensure that your AI social media strategy is rooted in goals.

6. Choose the Right AI Tools

The AI landscape is filled with trash and treasure.

Pick AI tools that are most likely to align with your needs and your level of tech-savviness.

For example, if you’re a blogger creating content about pizza recipes, you can use HubSpot’s AI social caption generator to write the message on your behalf:

The benefit of an AI tool like HubSpot and the caption generator is that what at one point took 30-40 minutes to come up with — you can now have it at your fingertips in seconds. The HubSpot AI caption generator is trained on tons of data around social media content and makes it easy for you to get inspiration or final drafts on what can be used to create great content.

Consider your budget, the learning curve, and what kind of support the tool offers.

7. Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media and AI Strategy

AI isn’t a magic wand; it’s a set of complex tools and technology.

You need to be willing to pivot as things come to fruition.

If you notice that a certain activity is falling flat, consider how AI can support that process.

Did you notice that your engagement isn’t where you want it to be? Consider using an AI tool to assist with crafting more engaging social media posts.

Make AI Work for You — Now and in the Future

AI has the power to revolutionize your social media strategy in ways you may have never thought possible. With its ability to conduct customer research, create personalized content, and so much more, thinking about the future of social media is fascinating.

We’re going through one of the most interesting times in history.

Stay equipped to ride the way of AI and ensure that you’re embracing the best practices outlined in this piece to get the most out of the technology.

The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2024 [New Data]

As a social media marketer or someone trying to build your social media presence, you know that it isn’t enough just to post new content — the times you post also play a crucial role.

So, if you are wondering what the best times to post on social media in 2024 are, I have got you covered. In this post, I have compiled some of the key statistics from leading studies on the best times to post on social media.

Best Time to Post on Instagram

Instagram has surpassed 2 billion monthly users, with most of its base accessing the platform via mobile.

Here are some of the most recent and relevant studies around the best time to post on Instagram:

Based on analyzing 5.5 million social media posts, Buffer states that the best times to post on Instagram are 7 AM to 8 AM on weekdays.
According to the same report, the best day to post on Instagram is Friday. The worst day is on Sunday.
The worst times to post are 11 PM to 12 AM and 1 AM to 2 AM.
SocialBee suggests that the best times to post on Instagram are between 11:00 AM and 02:00 PM on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and at 10:00 AM on Saturdays.
According to a SocialPilot study on over 50,000 Instagram accounts, the best time to post on Instagram is between 7 AM and 9 AM.
Later states that the best time to post on Instagram is 4 AM.

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While posting at the right time is important, it is also important to optimize your posts with the right caption so that they reach the maximum audience. You can use tools like Hubspot AI Social Media Caption Generator to easily create engaging and impactful copy for your posts.

Best Time to Post on Facebook

When it comes to the best times to post on Facebook, marketers report almost identical numbers as they do on Instagram.

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According to Buffer, the best time to post on Facebook is between 9 and 10 AM.
The best days to post on Facebook are Fridays. The worst are on Saturdays and Sundays.
The worst times to post are 4 AM to 5 AM and 11 PM to 12 AM.
According to SocialBee, the best times to post on Facebook are between 8 AM and 1 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Best Time to Post on X (Twitter)

After analyzing over 1 million tweets, Buffer found that the best times to post on this text-based social media platform is 11 AM on Mondays and Fridays.

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SocialBee states that the best time to post on X is between 9 AM and 4 PM on Thursdays and Fridays.
For better engagement, SocialPilot suggests posting in the mornings between 8 AM and 10 AM and evenings between 6 PM and 9 PM on weekdays.
On weekends, it’s best to post between 11 AM to 5 PM.

Best Time to Post on LinkedIn

Roughly 31% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn to network and share their professional endeavors. It’s no surprise that it’s the only social platform to report a weekday as one of the top days to post.

 

CoSchedule suggests posting on LinkedIn at 12:00 PM, 10:00 AM, and 1:00 AM.
The best days to post, according to them, are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Wednesdays.
The lowest-performing days are Sundays, Saturdays, and Mondays.
According to Buffer, you can get high engagement if you post between 9 AM and 5 AM on weekdays.
SocialPilot states the best time is between 10 AM and 12 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Best Time to Post on Pinterest

The best times to post on Pinterest, according to CoSchedule, are 12:00 PM, 6:17 PM, and 8:02 PM.
The worst times are 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, and 1:00 AM.
The best days to post are Fridays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
According to SocialPilot, the best times to post on Pinterest are on Fridays at 3 PM.
On weekends, posting on Saturdays from 8 PM to 11 PM is ideal.

Best Time to Post on YouTube

82% of U.S. adults use YouTube and data from a 2023 Pew Research study suggests that its reach is growing. So, how can you get the best reach on the platform? Let’s dive in.

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Buffer states that videos shared between 3 and 4 PM on Fridays tend to get the highest number of views.
According to SocialPilot, the best time is between 2 PM and 4 PM on weekdays.
Sunday is the best day to post, between 9 AM and 11 AM.

While reports and surveys state one thing, YouTube experts have a slightly different opinion on the best time to post on YouTube.

This is what Robert Benjamin, a social media expert with more than 708K subscribers on YouTube, has to say.

“Personally, I have found the best time to post to be 10 AM – 12 PM, but this can be largely dictated by the relationship that you have with your audience. My recommendation to anyone uploading YouTube content is that they try to post on a regular schedule so that their audience knows when to expect a video.”

Jensen Tung, a content creator and entrepreneur with more than 457K subscribers, believes that the best time to post depends on your audience demographic and time zone.

He states, “There is no one-size-fits-all best time to post. It depends on your audience’s demographic and the time zone most of your viewers are in … YouTube Studio can show the exact hours your audience watches your content. Let that data inform your posting time.”

Best Time to Post on TikTok

Since 2020, TikTok has become the go-to short-form video platform for Gen-Z and Millennial consumers.

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Studies by SocialPilot show that the best time to post on TikTok is 10 to 11:50 AM, 2:30 to 4 PM, and 6:30 to 9:30 PM from Tuesdays to Thursdays.
Hopper states 10 AM to 11 AM mid-week as the overall best time.
According to Buffer, the best time is 2 PM on Mondays, 4 PM on Wednesdays, and 8 AM on Saturdays.

Creating an Effective Posting Schedule

Although each social network sees its engagement increase at specific hours and days of the week, you’ll still have to tailor your approach to your audience.

Use this data as a guide if you don’t have enough data yet. Once you start posting regularly and have collected data, review it to determine when your audience is most active on the platform and what posting schedule they respond to the most.

You may find that certain content types work better when posted at certain times. For instance, your videos may perform well when posting in the morning, while your images may do better in the late afternoon.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017, but was updated for comprehensiveness.

How HubSpot’s Social Team Grew Their LinkedIn Presence by 84% in Six Months, According to HubSpot’s Director of Social

Welcome to HubSpot’s Expert Edge Series, where we interview top execs at major brands to explore their perspectives on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping the industry.

Over the past few months, you might’ve noticed a shift in HubSpot’s social strategy.

The more traditional B2B posts have given way for a social media presence that is funnier, more casual, and definitely more meme-ified.

Which led me to wonder: What’s the reason behind the shift?

As HubSpot’s Global Director of Social Media, Bryna Corcoran, told me: “About seven months ago, we started to speak to the next generation of marketing or sales reps — we started to use the Gen Z and millennial tone-of-voice. We started to dabble in internet culture; we started to post memes, which, you know, definitely got us some questionable faces. We started to make it more of a conversational community. And it’s working.”

Turns out, it’s more than just working. In the past seven months alone, HubSpot’s social team has seen 84% year-over-year growth on LinkedIn.

Here, Corcoran shares with me her tips for growing a LinkedIn community, as well as her broader insights on how to succeed across social platforms in 2024.

HubSpot’s Director of Social On Creating A Strong LinkedIn Strategy, Becoming Relevant to Gen Z, and Experimenting Constantly

LinkedIn’s Audience Has Changed: So Your Content Should, Too

When I sat down with Corcoran, the first question I asked her was simple: Why LinkedIn?

She told me there are several reasons. For one, some users have found it harder to thrive on X (previously known as Twitter), so they’ve gradually migrated to LinkedIn for that similar “open-forum town square” feel.

Additionally, more Gen Z’s and younger millennials are now turning to LinkedIn for career development and job searching.

So the social team saw an opportunity: Why not test out their Twitter tone-of-voice — short, text-only casual posts, or what she calls “shower musings” — on LinkedIn?

And it blew up.

Corcoran says, “In the beginning, we were unsure how our new strategy would perform, so we treaded lightly by posting only a few times a week. But I’m happy to report that we’re gaining followers faster than ever, and that’s because we’re taking a personal approach.”

She adds, “It’s almost like we’re turning HubSpot into a person, rather than a brand, by discussing the musings of how our customers are thinking or feeling on a daily basis as they try to grow their companies.”

LinkedIn’s Users Expect to Interact With Businesses on the Platform, So It’s a Good Platform to Lean Into

There’s another benefit to LinkedIn, too — while Instagram and Facebook are largely for personal connections, users expect to interact with businesses on LinkedIn. In fact, it’s the purpose of the channel.

In other words: Businesses aren’t breaking through quite as high of a barrier on LinkedIn when it comes to figuring out authentic ways for users to interact with them.

As Corcoran told me, “Don’t sleep on LinkedIn — It is one of the most credible platforms. To be on the platform, you need to put your real first and last name, and your work history is accurate, and you’re a reflection of the school you went to or the company you work for … so you’re much more likely to contribute thoughtfully on LinkedIn compared to other platforms.”

She continues, “So what we’ve found on LinkedIn is a vibrant community of people who just like being on the platform, and like sharing their thoughts. Of course there are debates, but they’re healthy debates. And so we’ve found people who are inspired to engage with us, talk to us, talk to each other, have civil discourse, laugh with us, and thumbs-up each other’s comments.”

One other big plus and differentiation for LinkedIn? Its ability to amplify your content to new audiences simply by engaging with the content. If Corcoran and I are connected as colleagues but I don’t follow HubSpot and she comments on or likes a HubSpot post, LinkedIn will auto-publish that interaction and post to my own feed. Which means LinkedIn provides incredible opportunities to broadcast your content to reach new prospects and leads simply through light-weight engagement.

Take an Audience-First Approach With Any Social Strategy — While Also Leaning Into Cultural Relevancy

Roughly six months ago, Corcoran and her team decided to develop new, fresh personas for their social channels to enable them to take an audience-first approach. Now, when they’re crafting a piece of social content, they’re able to keep that person top-of-mind.

For instance, one persona they’ve developed is the sales rep who is trying to get their cold calls answered. From there, it’s easier to brainstorm clever, relatable text-based thoughts that could resonate with that persona and make her feel like HubSpot understands their challenges.

Corcoran told me she also looks at cultural moments. “We look at things that people are talking about outside of the HubSpot universe. What’s top of mind for them? If we can connect to what’s going on in culture, it’s even stickier and more relatable.”

She adds, “In the beginning, there was a little bit of the ‘let’s try everything’ method, because it was uncharted. So we decided to test a lot: Does our audience gravitate to a Barbie meme? Are we rubbing people the wrong way if we lean into grammatical errors because that’s how Gen Z types?”

Now, before Corcoran’s team posts anything, they ask themselves three questions:

Who is this for?
What’s the HubSpot way in?
How can we connect it to culture?

If they can strike those three things well, they typically find success. But, as Corcoran points out, they don’t crush it every time — and they’re still learning.

You Might Be Surprised By What Types of Content Performs Best With Your Audience, So Testing is Key

When HubSpot won a G2 award recently, Corcoran’s team posted a traditional, official asset to highlight the award. And it got widely shared.

But then, later that afternoon, they decided to post a Miley Cyrus Grammy awards image with the caption, “buying myself flowers to celebrate all these G2 wins”.

As Corcoran told me, “That blew up. People were really energized by the fact that we had a little bit of swag with our G2 announcement. And the more fun, personality-driven approach accomplishes the same goal for us as the more corporate-looking post: Driving awareness.”

One thing we’ve found,” She adds, “is if a post is too polished or clean on social, it gets misunderstood as an ad. So if we’re doing a video, we take a TikTok or Reels approach where it’s just 30-seconds shot on an iPhone and we put it out.”

If you work for a B2B company, it can be tempting to pigeonhole your brand on social as polished, professional, and formal. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case — the more you can personify your business, the easier it will be for decision-makers to connect with your brand.

Of course, what works best for one business will flop for another. So it’s equally critical you continue to test and iterate over time. At the end of each month, for instance, Corcoran and her team look at every single post and say, ‘Okay, how did this one perform? Was it short and easy-to-read? Was the graphic too corporate-y?’

As Corcoran notes, over time, you begin to notice themes. And those themes can help you get better at predicting what performs well with your audience … and what doesn’t.

(Bonus Tip: Corcoran suggests posting on LinkedIn three to four times per week; but she encourages businesses to avoid posting on the weekends, since people typically aren’t using the platform during their time off. Additionally, she’s seen the most success posting first thing in the morning, around lunchtime, or around 5-6 PM — basically, when people are waking up, when they’re taking a lunch break, or when they’re winding down after work.)

Shares Means Your Content Connected Emotionally With Your Audience

Finally, I asked Corcoran how she measures success on social. How does she know her team’s social posts are driving business impact?

Here’s how Corcoran thinks about it: “We know a Miley Cyrus meme won’t get you to purchase software, but we want you to be aware of HubSpot — that we’re present, that we’re culturally relevant — so that we’re top-of-mind when you are in the buying motion.”

She continues, “Our master goal is brand awareness and product consideration, and the way we measure brand awareness is through engagement: Whether that’s liking, commenting, or sharing.”

In particular, she told me she gets really excited about shares — because that tells her that the content connected emotionally with the user on some level. It means a user slowed down and said, ‘This is so relevant to me that I need to share it with someone else.’

Corcoran says, “Oftentimes, that person will share with someone who hasn’t heard of HubSpot, and suddenly they’re curious about us.”

With Social, Be Willing to Test the Boundaries 

Ultimately, if there’s one thing I learned from Corcoran, it’s this: B2B businesses have historically played it safe when it comes to creating engaging content on social media.

But social media users’ expectations are rapidly evolving, and it’s critical your business continue to evaluate and iterate on its own social strategy to reach new audiences and drive brand awareness in 2024 and beyond.