Top 10 Tips for Successful Social Media Marketing. ChatGPT wrote this article in less than a minute, then I spent four hours writing the rest.

There has been a lot of talk about ChatGPT. What is it? To get a definition I asked ChatGPT itself, “What is ChatGPT?” Its response was:

It is not clear what you are referring to with the term “ChatGPT.” GPT stands for “Generative Pre-training Transformer,” which is a type of artificial intelligence model developed by OpenAI. It is used to generate human-like text and has been trained on a large dataset of internet text to learn the patterns and structures of language. ChatGPT is not a commonly used term, and it is unclear what it might refer to. Could you provide more context or clarify your question?

Why does this chatbot not know its own name? The term ChatGPT returns 177 million Google search results and has its own Wikipedia page. In all fairness, ChatGPT does list one of its limitations as having limited knowledge of world events after 2021. I supposed it didn’t know how popular it would become after its free public beta release in November 2022. Since it didn’t know that term, my next question was, “What are you?” Its response was:

I am an artificial intelligence trained to assist with a variety of tasks, including answering questions, providing information, and generating text. I do not have feelings or emotions, and I exist solely to assist users like you. I do not have a physical body and exist only in the digital realm. I was created by OpenAI and am here to help you with any questions or information you may need. Is there anything specific you would like to know or discuss?

I wanted to get a blog post written before the end of the year so I thought I would ask ChatGPT “Write an 800 to a 1,000-word article providing the top ten tips for social media marketing.” Below is the 553-word article.

According to Semrush, the word count for an informational blog post should be 1,000-1,500 words. Guides and how-tos should be 1,500-2,500 words. I aimed low and got something lower, but additions of my own writing got me a higher word count for SEO. I also asked, “What is a good headline for this article?” ChatGPT wrote both in less than a minute:

10 Top Tips for Successful Social Media Marketing by ChatGPT.

  1. Define your goals and target audience. Before jumping into the world of social media marketing, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and who you want to reach. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales? Are you targeting a specific age group or geographic location? Defining your goals and target audience will help guide your content strategy and ensure that you’re using the right social media platforms to reach your desired audience.
  2. Create a content calendar. Consistency is key when it comes to social media marketing, and a content calendar can help you stay organized and on track. Plan out your posts in advance, including the content, hashtags, and any calls to action. This will help you maintain a consistent posting schedule and ensure that you’re providing value to your followers.
  3. Use visually appealing content. With so much competition on social media, it’s important to make your content stand out. Use high-quality images and videos, and consider using design tools like Canva or Adobe Spark to create visually appealing graphics and infographics.
  4. Utilize hashtags. Hashtags can help increase the visibility of your content, especially on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Research popular hashtags in your industry and consider creating a branded hashtag for your business. Just be sure not to overuse hashtags – a few relevant ones are usually enough.
  5. Engage with your audience. Social media is all about building relationships, and that means actively engaging with your followers. Respond to comments and messages, and take the time to like and share content from other users. This helps to foster a sense of community and can lead to increased brand loyalty.
  6. Utilize paid advertising. While organic reach on social media can be limited, paid advertising can help increase the visibility of your content. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a variety of targeting options, allowing you to reach a specific audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  7. Collaborate with influencers. Influencer marketing can be an effective way to reach a larger audience and build credibility for your brand. Look for influencers in your industry who have a loyal following and consider partnering with them to promote your products or services.
  8. Track and analyze your results. It’s important to track the success of your social media marketing efforts to see what’s working and what may need to be adjusted. Use tools like Google Analytics to track website traffic from social media, and use native analytics tools on each platform to track engagement and reach.
  9. Keep up with algorithm updates. Social media algorithms are constantly changing, and it’s important to stay up to date on the latest updates to ensure that your content is being seen by your audience. Be proactive in understanding how these updates may impact your content strategy and adjust accordingly.
  10. Experiment and try new things. Social media is a constantly evolving landscape, and it’s important to be willing to try new things and experiment with different strategies. Don’t be afraid to test out new content formats, platforms, or paid advertising options to see what works best for your business. The key is to be agile and adaptable and to always be looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts.

I would make all these general recommendations myself.

They are good tips, and it is good writing. But honestly, it’s not anything new that I haven’t been teaching in my social media marketing class since 2011. I’ve also recommended these basic tips in my Social Media Strategy book since 2015.

A big missing piece for me is attributions. Where did this information come from? I know it came from the Internet, but the standard is to cite sources with hyperlinks. I would have included links to experts with first-hand experience, supporting research, data, cases and/or examples. I asked ChatGPT why it doesn’t cite sources and it said:

“I was trained on a dataset of text gathered from the Internet, including books articles, and websites. As artificial intelligence, I do not have the ability to cite specific sources or authors for the information that I provide.”

When I asked it to rewrite the article with academic references it added three APA in-text citations in various places (Kotler et all., 2018), (Freeman, 2018), and (Hootsuite, 2020). There were no full references and no hyperlinks. It seemed to be mimicking academic citations but it wasn’t actually citing sources. Some articles from its dataset must have used references but ChatGPT didn’t pull the full reference or links.

Like, Wall Street Journal technology columnist Joanna Stern who used ChatGPT to write an AP Lit essay, the article “passes.” Yet for Stern using AI to participate in a class discussion was a “fail.” I can imagine writing an article like this, but when a client hires me to create a social media strategy, what would I do? In a face-to-face meeting, physically or virtually, they would be asking very specific questions. Would I pause to ask the chatbot each time?

A student who spent a minute writing an assignment with ChatGPT may get a passing grade, but could they participate in class discussion? Without reading the text, researching the evidence, and thinking critically they’ve missed the learning. Stern’s AP English teacher Michael Dimond said, “They’re not learning what I am asking them to do if the Internet can give them a full essay because they’re missing out on the process of writing.”

It’s the process that leads to learning.

The process leads to unique, creative, and effective strategies for clients or your own business. There are no shortcuts. A student in my class may write a general social media strategy “tips” paper with ChatGPT but what about creating and implementing a unique strategy for a specific client or their boss?

Can AI replace the knowledge gained in my undergraduate and two advanced degrees, plus 17 years of professional marketing, and 10 years of teaching experience? I suppose some of those articles it scanned were my own. I’ve also been working on developing my own voice all these years. Having a distinct personality expressed as a distinguishable voice in writing is important for people and brand communication. I asked ChatGPT “Can you write this article again in a different personality?” It said:

“As an artificial intelligence, I do not have feelings or emotions, and I do not have a personality in the same way that a human does. That being said, I can certainly rewrite the article in a different style or tone if you would like.”

So I asked it to rewrite the tips in various tones. Each came quickly. Ironically, the academic tone took the longest. For an informal tone, ChatGPT added an introduction, “Hey there! Are you looking to boost your social media game? Here are tips to help you out.” For an academic tone it began, “In today’s day and age, social media marketing has become an essential tool for businesses looking to reach and engage with their target audience.”

Finally, I asked it to have a humorous tone. It rewrote the intro as “Are you tired of being the only person on your block without a solid social media marketing strategy? Well, fear not – I’m here to help! Here are ten tips to help you achieve social media fame and fortune (or at least a decent number of likes and comments).”

At first, I was impressed and scared by these results! Then I realized that every person or brand that wants a humorous tone doesn’t want the same humorous tone. All social media professors don’t want the same academic tone and all banks don’t want the same formal tone. I worked on many different bank brands over the years. Often it was the unique strategies, ideas, and brand voice we developed that created differentiation in a category where all checking account features tend to be the same.

Can ChatGPT create those unique strategies? Next, I asked, “Can you create a social media marketing strategy for a specific business?” It said “certainly” and wrote a nine-step list very similar to the ten tips ending confidently with “By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that will help your business achieve its goals and engage with its target audience.”

If only it were that simple.

Anyone managing social media for a business or organization knows that it is not that simple. Below is a paraphrased version of the introduction to my Social Media Strategy book:

You turn to Google for top social media tips. Lists make us feel that social media can be simple: follow these ten steps and you’ll succeed! The truth is there is no one-list-fits-all social media strategy. A successful social media strategy needs to be unique to the brand, its products, services, and customers. Otherwise, you’re chasing social media tactics that may or may not work for your organization and situation. Only when a unique strategy is developed will those tips and lists be useful by focusing on the advice that applies.

In my digital marketing course, students write their own blogs during the semester applying concepts and best practices to test and learn from real results. The assignment also helps establish their personal brands, demonstrate skills for employers, gain confidence, and prepare them to be lifelong learners. It would be easier to use ChatGPT to write the required blog posts and get a passing grade, but what did they cheat themselves out of?

What about cheating?

I asked ChatGPT, “Can students use you to cheat on their writing assignments?” It responded:

It is not appropriate to use artificial intelligence or any other external resources to cheat on assignments or exams. Cheating undermines the learning process and devalues the hard work and achievements of those who have earned their grades honestly. Instead of relying on shortcuts, it is important for students to take the time to develop their own understanding and skills.

The Educational Technology Committee at my university pointed out that Open AI’s Terms of Use states, “You may not…represent that output from the Services was human-generated when it is not.” This doesn’t discount ChatGPT and other AI assistants as learning tools.

Using it could help me refine my writing, research, and recommendations. This AI-generated article helps me understand where the real work needs to be done in social media. Elicit is an AI tool that can help speed up the literature review in my academic research. I also used the AI tool Grammarly to catch grammar mistakes in my portions of this post. ChatGPT agrees saying:

There are many ways in which students can use AI tools like me to enhance their learning and writing skills. For example, students can use me to clarify their understanding of a concept, to generate ideas for a writing assignment, or to proofread and edit their work. However, it is important that students use these resources as a supplement to their own learning and effort, rather than relying on them to complete assignments without putting in the necessary work.

ChatGPT gives good answers, but as it says, that does not replace the hard work and rewards of learning on your own. ChatGPT gave me a 533-word social media strategy blog post in 1 minute that I could have published four hours ago, but in the writing process, I learned a lot more to bring to my class next semester including having students use ChatGPT in class to write one of their blog posts and discuss the limits and benefits. Hopefully, they’ll appreciate writing as worth doing beyond the grade.

Hopefully, you’ve appreciated this mostly human-written article beyond the AI-generated tips. I’ve had many “conversations” with ChatGPT. It provided useful information, but I don’t feel a bond to it. The kind of human connection I get from colleagues I’ve met at conferences, I’ve worked with at marketing agencies, or my favorite bloggers and podcasters.

AI isn’t going away. Microsoft invested $1 billion in the company behind ChatGPT and plans on adding its features to its Bing search engine this Spring. Search Engine Land reports it could return human-like text answers to questions instead of lists of links as a challenge to Google’s search engine dominance. Another topic to discuss in my Digital Marketing course! How will you use or not use AI?

The Metaverse. The Future of Digital and Social Media Marketing?

There has been a lot of hype over the metaverse. A Google search of the term metaverse returns 189 million results. The company that owns two of the largest social media networks in the world even changed its name from Facebook to Meta in 2021. Yet the metaverse may not be living up to the hype.

Early reports indicate Meta’s Horizon Worlds isn’t meeting expectations. A year old in December 2022, Horizon Worlds has just 200,000 monthly active users, below Meta’s goal of 280,000 from an already lowered initial projection of 500,000. Simply building a virtual world without a special interest, unique selling point, or target community is a challenge.

We should have learned this lesson from the hype over Second Life in 2007 when big brands invested heavily in virtual real estate. Back then founder Philip Rosedale proclaimed, “The 3D web will rapidly be the dominant thing and everyone will have an avatar.”

After 19 years Second Life hasn’t built a mass virtual world but does have 1 million monthly active niche users. It also has graphics that seem to look better than Horizon Worlds. Second Life is also free to join via the web – you pay to own land. Living in Horizon World first requires purchasing $400 Meta owned Oculus headsets and downloading the app.

Screen capture from promotion video on Meta Horizon Worlds Oculus website.
Screen capture from Second Life’s promotion video on its website.

If you build it (the metaverse) they (mass audiences) may not come. Business Insider reports that only 9% of the worlds built Horizon Worlds are visited by 50 users or more. Most users abandon the platform in the first month, and over half of the VR headsets are out of use within six months.

This doesn’t mean that the metaverse isn’t relevant to marketers. It just isn’t a mass media play. There are already existing metaverse niche communities out there. Remember that Facebook’s platform of nearly 3 billion monthly active global users was not created overnight. It also started with a niche audience of U.S. college students.

You don’t need Horizon Worlds to engage in the metaverse. Most of the existing, populated, and active metaverses are game-based browser virtual worlds such as Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, Avankin Life, IMNU, and, of course, Second Life. These 3D virtual worlds have been around for at least five years with many existing for a decade or longer.

Below is an amazing infographic of the existing metaverse by Nic Mitham of Metaversed Consulting created in part from data from W. James Au at New World Notes. As you can see in the MAU’s below, you don’t need to wait for Horizon Worlds to take off to experiment with metaverse marketing.

The Metaverse Universe by Nic Mitham at Metaversed Consulting.

How are brands using the metaverse for marketing? Vans partnered with Roblox to create a virtual interactive skate park, Vans World. It allowed Roblox users to virtually visit skate parks with friends earning points through game play to spend on virtual Vans sneakers and apparel and to build customized skateboards in a virtual skate shop. Vans World attracted over 48 million visitors in a couple of months.

Nike created Nikeland metaverse in Roblox. In a couple of months, 7 million visited Nikeland to enjoy brand experiences, such as celebrity appearances by LeBron James, games with rewards, and ownership of their own “yard” or personal space to show off their collectibles. Exclusive branded digital products can also be worn on fans’ avatars around Roblox environments to create digital brand ambassadors.

With these examples, keep in mind that 54% of Roblox users are under 12 years old and just 14% are over 25 years old. These demographics may match Vans’ and Nike’s target audience, but probably don’t fit with many marketers’ target customers. Package goods like Tide don’t need to be creating Tideland virtual Roblox laundry rooms to engage fans and sell more detergent.

Dip your toe in the metaverse with “phygital” experiences. Other brands have created merged digital and real-life experiences through the metaverse. During New York Fashion Week Puma launched an integrated physical and digital experience called “Black Station.” Visitors to the website interacted with the brand’s Fashion Week show as if they were there in person. Digital exhibits featured 3D sneakers and NFT holders could redeem tokens for physical pairs of shoes.

Phygital marketing blends digital metaverse and physical real-life brand experiences. Instead of jumping completely into the virtual world, phygital combines the physical and digital experiences that consumers may be more comfortable with including AR/VR and 3D modeling or metaverse experiences that reflect a physical one.

Some of these hybrid experiences are happening on Decentraland. Dentraland is a newer 3D browser-based virtual world built on NFTs and cryptocurrency.  Samsung’s New York flagship store had a physical sustainability fashion show that was simultaneously created in the brand’s metaverse space in Decentraland. This is called a “simuverse” experience. Simulverse is when a physical event is simultaneously played out in the metaverse.

Another phygital strategy is “twinning.” Twinning is crafting digital experiences that mimic a physical one, or vice versa. An example of twinning is when Gucci created physical figurines of its “SuperGucci” NFTs. Or Prada which added NFTs to its limited-edition physical clothes.

A related strategy is “tokenization.” Tokenization is when physical items are reformatted into NFTs on a blockchain. Tommy Hilfiger created NFTs of luxury and exclusive physical merchandise on the Boston Portal marketplace in Decentraland. Their release was timed with the physical world fashion week but hosted in the fashion district of this 3D virtual world.

The bottom line for marketers? The metaverse isn’t mainstream and may never be, at least in the next several years. Instead of going all in, go partially in with “phygital” experiences and by reaching relevant niche audiences in existing virtual worlds. Simply building a brand experience in Horizon Worlds will not make your customers come.

If your target audience is already active in a metaverse then go where they are spending time. This is the same strategy for selecting social media platforms. First, define your marketing objectives and your target audience. Then look at user demographics and psychographics of metaverse platforms searching for a match. Also, go beyond monthly active users (MAUs) and search for daily active user (DAUs) data.

Want to learn more about the broader topic of Web3? Check out my previous article “The Future of Digital and Social Media Marketing With Web3.” Or to learn more about matching target audience to digital platforms see “Are You My Audience? 7 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.”

Do Marketers Always Want Consumer’s To Consume?

In marketing we call our target consumers. Yet not all marketing goals or messages are about increasing consumption. Sometimes marketers want the target market to consume something different, consume less, or simply consume an idea.

Patagonia famously ran an ad with the headline “Don’t Buy This Jacket” on Black Friday. They sell clothing, but their overall mission is, “We’re in business to save our home planet. We aim to use the resources we have–our voice, our business, and our community–to do something about our climate crisis.”

Patagonia balances selling new clothes with its mission. For example, they encourage consumers to consume less by trading in old Patagonia clothes to be resold with its Wornwear program. They call for climate action on Twitter, and share conservation messages on their YouTube channel.

One video features Salvar Una Cuenca running to save a watershed. Another has an employee explaining how to repair a zipper to keep a jacket longer. The message is getting through. In a recent Harris Poll, Patagonia is listed as the most reputable company in the U.S.

Sometimes marketers want consumers to consume more of their product by consuming more but by consuming something different. An example is Campbell’s sharing recipes featuring their condensed soup as a key ingredient.

Campbell’s meets the needs of busy adults giving them quick and easy recipes that while increasing purchase of their soup. They send the message where their target is looking for meal ideas with timely posts on Pinterest like “Get hammy with your Easter leftovers.”

Gatorade is another example. They don’t want their consumers to consume more sports drinks during workouts. They want their target to drink Gatorade over competitor Powerade.

They position themselves as hydration for high school athletes by helping their target tell their sports stories on social media. They created a free app “Highlights” for teen athletes to capture and share pro videos of their best sports moments.

A nonprofit or government agency often wants marketing messages that encourage consumers to consume less such as a natural resource conservation effort. Right now many western states are facing severe droughts. They need marketing messages to get residents to consume less water.

Some public health efforts aim for no consumption. The Truth anti-tobacco campaign has used marketing to reduce teen smoking. In the 1990s, they used PSA TV ads to reach their audience. Now Truth is reaching teens on Instagram and Youtube to reduce teen vaping.

Other marketing messages encourage donations. The nonprofit Dress for Success targets women on Facebook to donate their professional clothes, talents, and time to help other women obtain opportunities and reach economic independence.

What other goals do social media marketing efforts try to accomplish for organizations, businesses, or clients?

To learn more on consumers, target markets and target audiences see “Are You My Audience? 6 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.”

Are You My Audience? 7 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.

How to determine target audience.

A narrowly focused message stands out and reaches and motivates an audience. General messages addressing everyone get lost in the crowd. As a communication professional or student, you need to know the target audience for any strategy or plan.

How to determine target audience.

Usually, clients do provide a target audience defined by the various bases of segmentation shown above. Yet it is not always the right target. Oftentimes business people are good at their business but are not the best marketers. Even top marketers at Fortune 500s can get it wrong. If you don’t start with the right target your strategy will not be successful and not meet the objectives the client is hiring you to help deliver.

Remember that clients are hiring you or you are getting a new project from a boss because current efforts are not working. There is a problem to be solved. Sometimes it’s an SEO problem, sometimes a social media content problem, but it can also be a target audience problem. How do you know you have the right target?

  1. Don’t assume your target is your social media followers. A client for the social media agency BSquared defined their target audience as 18-24 year-olds. They had the most followers from this age group. Yet BSquared took the time to look at additional social listening data beyond the brand pages and social media and digital advertising data. They found that the next two older age groups actually accounted for 90% of sales compared to just 10% of sales coming from the younger group.
  2. Don’t assume everyone that could use the product is your target. Gatorade learned this shifting to a mass-market target of hydration for everyone 18-49 and sales declined 10%. The core athlete got the message – Gatorade was no longer for them. Further research revealed high school and endurance athletes made up just 22% of customers but accounted for 46% of all sales. Only when they focused back on these two niche audiences with fewer mass ads and more target digital ads did sales return.
  3. Don’t assume the people who use the product are your target. Proctor & Gamble’s brand Old Spice sales were declining. Additional consumer research revealed that women purchase 60% of all men’s body washes. For the first time, the brand targeted women as the audience for its men’s brand. Within a year, sales grew 125% surpassing competitors to become the #1 brand in the category.
  4. Don’t assume your target audience is current customers. When sales level off or decline marketers need to reach a new group of people that is not their current users. The market for two-door coupe cars has been declining for years. The Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV is designed to reach a new audience. Targeting current Mustang drivers would not be effective as the car was designed to gain EV market share from Tesla. In the first year of sales, 70% of Mach-E buyers were new to the Ford brand.
  5. Don’t assume there is only one target audience. There may be multiple target audiences that influence a purchase decision. Colleges know that parents influence high school students’ college decisions. Therefore, enrollment strategies often include a primary target audience of high school students with a secondary target audience of parents of high school-age children. Messages and channels must be targeted for both.
  6. Don’t assume the target is consumers of the product. Other audiences can be selected for corporate communication and public relations to manage company reputation with employees, investors, suppliers, regulators and the media. With the Crock-Pot ‘This Is Us’ crisis an episode of the popular show killed the main character in a fire from the brand’s faulty product. The PR agency responded quickly with a message to multiple stakeholders assuring the public that Crock-Pots were safe.
  7. Don’t assume the latest hyped up platform is your target. As marketers, we tend to be attracted to new shiny objects. If the trade press is hyping up something new like Second Life, Google+, Meerkat, Blab, Clubhouse, Ello, it may be good to check it out and experiment. But don’t make the platform your target audience pulling money and resources out of existing platforms that are generating revenue now. Not every new social app lives up to the hype like TikTok. TikTok’s large user base still skews much younger and may not be a good place to reach an older target audience.

Also, note that business to business (B2B) target audiences are usually segmented with different variables called firmographics based on company size, industry, geographic market, and business needs. A B2B target audience can include people with certain job titles, and members of professional organizations.

If you are a marketer at a business or marketing communications professional working for the business, it is always good practice to verify that the target audience is really who you think. You need the right target audience to meet the business objectives. How do you know you are addressing the right business objectives? Perform a Root Cause Analysis.