In-Scope: The Beauty of Artificial Intelligence in Social Media Marketing

Grace Green is an Account Executive in OMD Fuse Melbourne, helping clients deliver on their business challenges with content led decisions.

Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the way brands communicate with their consumers in social media marketing. Chatbots, augmented reality and the umbrella of artificial intelligence have reinvigorated the beauty industry. As beauty is a personalised industry, AI offers brands new ways to provide the one-on-one support received from staff in a bricks and mortar store to a consumer base that is moving further towards ecommerce.

Estee Lauder is at the cutting edge of providing the same high-level of customer service of an in-store experience through chatbots and augmented reality. In May this year, Estee Lauder partnered with Modiface to use augmented reality to allow consumers to try on different shades of lipstick from their new range. This was available within Facebook Messenger and accompanied by a chatbot which helped consumers select lipsticks based on colour preferences and skin tone.

Other brands which have successfully used chatbots to engage with younger consumers are Sephora and H&M using Kik Messenger, a Canadian instant messenger app popular with US teens. H&M built a chatbot that interacts with consumers to understand their personal taste in clothes and makes personalised recommendations from their current catalogue. Also using Kik, Sephora created a chatbot that offers personalised content such as product reviews and how-to guides based on interests and personal details the consumer shares with the chatbot; such as face shape and skin type. Every piece of content Sephora’s chatbot shares is also accompanied by a recommended product. These examples of chatbots take the personalisation of instore one-on-one interactions with staff and streamline it with the convenience of an instantaneous online experience.

There have been cautionary tales in the chatbot space, demonstrating the importance of a coherent strategy behind the use of a bot and an understanding of the current limitations of the technology. Some examples of the best uses of chatbots have been built on a strategy of improving the consumer experience, while other less successful strategies have lent on the ‘hype’ around AI, which has seen campaigns backfire and increase negative sentiment for brands. When designing a strategy around the use of a chatbot, it is important that brands focus on aligning the functionality of the technology with a positive campaign objective. The success of Estee Lauder’s use of a Chatbot can at least in part be attributed to having aligned the functional capability of a chatbot and AR with delivering high levels of personalisation and enhancing the online shopping experience.

Facebook received a lot of attention recently for their AI negotiation bot, which began negotiating in its own language. Despite cries of AI world take-over and smug nods from Elon Musk, this was decidedly more banal. Facebook simply ended the test after the bot became nonsensical. There have also been more positive developments within the AI space out of Facebook. Facebook recently purchased the AI start up, Ozlo, to reportedly support the development of ‘M’ their Messenger-based personal assistant. M first appeared in 2015 and has been rolled out to a small number of people for testing. The software uses AI to complete user requests, escalating them to real people if it can’t complete the task. M is now being rolled out on a larger scale. Instead of taking requests, M now suggests gifs, saying ‘happy birthday’ to a friend, or ordering an Uber based on the conversations within Messenger. At this point, M is only reminding you of many features that already exist within Messenger, however as the technology develops, this could become an essential feature for everyday users.

* Fingers crossed they follow through on the ‘M’ thing.

Messaging apps have over taken traditional social networking apps based on monthly active users. This trend towards the use of messaging apps presents an important opportunity for media agencies, publishers and brands to ensure they’re engaging in the most valuable social spaces. There are intricacies with advertising within messenger apps, as consumers trend to view these as more ‘private’ spaces. While this remains as an important consideration, it should not deter the use of AI and chatbots but be seen as an opportunity for creativity, innovation and personalisation.



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