Meta Platforms and Snap this week unveiled separate artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives, chatting with soaring hype across the technology and its growing importance to social media platforms. Discussions around AI have reignited following the excitement surrounding OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which launched in November.
Meta’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday shared a post detailing what the Facebook and Instagram owner has planned on the AI front, including the banding together of teams across the corporate which can be already working on generative AI to form a new product group meant to “turbocharge” innovation. Meta has prioritized AI prior to now, namely to streamline processes for marketers inside its ads business.
While Zuckerberg noted that foundational work must occur before more ambitious paths may be pursued, he added that Meta plans to explore text-based experiences inside Messenger and WhatsApp. Additionally, there are plans to look into image-based experiences through ad formats and Instagram filters, in addition to video and multi-modal experiences. Down the road, more personable experiences could possibly be within the works.
“In the short term, we’ll give attention to constructing creative and expressive tools. Over the long run, we’ll give attention to developing AI personas that may help people in a variety of how,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Meanwhile, Snap on the identical day unveiled its own new addition, My AI. The chatbot runs using the most recent version of OpenAI’s GPT technology customized for Snapchat. The feature rolls out this week to subscribers of Snapchat+, the platform’s $3.99-per-month subscription offering, and functions very like ChatGPT, with the aptitude to recommend gift ideas, plan trips and suggest different recipes. Offering the feature to subscribers as consumer curiosity in AI technology escalates could help Snapchat bolster its growing paid tier, which boasts over 2 million users.
“Their first-to-market My AI is not going to only give tens of millions of users intimate access to AI in a way they could not have yet experienced, however it’s a means to constructing a better-trained AI in comparison with whatever other platforms roll out later,” said Sami Hershkowitz, associate director of strategy for agency Formerly Known As, in emailed comments.
Eyeing a turnaround
Renewed investments in AI could support Meta and Snap because the two struggle during a period of increased uncertainty. Meta saw revenue dip 4% year-over-year within the fourth quarter, marking the corporate’s third straight quarter of revenue declines. However, not all was a low note, with Facebook reaching 2 billion day by day lively users through the period, which Zuckerberg attributed partially to advances in its AI discovery engine.
Likewise, Snap in Q4 reported revenue of $1.3 billion, a minimal gain from the identical period the yr prior. The company said that the macroeconomic climate will remain difficult for business within the early months of 2023. Last yr, the Snapchat owner laid off 20% of its staff and outlined a restructuring plan with three core priorities: augmented reality, revenue growth and community growth.
In addition to potential revenue gains, Snapchat’s My AI could help foster the strong sense of community that it’s chasing after, expanding its core messaging function to incorporate direct messaging with the chatbot and inspiring users to customize the wallpaper that appears through the chat and even personalize its name. The move sees Snap using My AI from more of a “friend” standpoint, versus others like Microsoft and Google which can be trying to the technology to reinforce search.
“The community is built on one-on-one, personal interactions, so this move makes relationship-building even stronger for users, the platform and potentially for brands,” Hershkowitz said.
While My AI offers no specified profit to brands — though they will appear casually in conversation, Hershkowitz added — using the offering to spice up Snapchat’s audience could entice new advertisers which can be looking to achieve its younger demographic. Brands have increasingly looked for methods to capitalize on the AI hype, including Mint Mobile, Snapple, and Coca-Cola, the latter being the primary marketer to reap the benefits of a partnership with Bain & Company and OpenAI. However, a warning by the Federal Trade Commission this week cautioned marketers about overzealous claims around AI, which could keep platforms like Snapchat hunkered down on the fundamentals.
“The short-term advantages are prone to be more organic in nature than anything an commercial or marketer could influence,” Amy Rumpler, senior vp of paid search and social at Basis Technologies, said in emailed comments. “For now, the main focus appears to be on constructing user trust and engagement with the tools themselves.”
Building trust with a technology that’s notorious for questionable behavior and inaccuracies — as seen with Google’s Bard — could prove problematic. Snap in its announcement apologized prematurely for My AI being “vulnerable to hallucination,” adding that the technology may be “tricked into saying absolutely anything.” Promoting the chatbot’s personalization and “sidekick” behavior while also noting that it shouldn’t be relied on for advice could spur confusion, Rumpler said.
“In an environment where users feel like they’re talking to a personal friend when interacting with this chatbot, those forms of issues could cause lasting problems, especially for younger users who may place misplaced trust in it,” Rumpler said.
To attempt to get ahead of potential missteps, Snap noted that it allows users to submit feedback on responses and added that it stores conversations to review for improvement — urging users to not share personal details. A give attention to customization could see Snap pave the best way for a new sort of algorithmic discovery, Hershkowitz said, enabling users to feel more empowered over the content they receive in a current use case that sees users fed information in ways in which sometimes feels a bit too on-the-nose.
And as others within the social media landscape proceed to chase the AI hype, the best way social media functions could sooner or later take to a wholly different role, Rumpler added.
“I can see a future where the term ‘social media’ becomes outdated — if the content you’re watching isn’t shared by a friend but as a substitute is fed to you by an algorithm based in your interests, and the ‘people’ you interact with aren’t actually people but are as a substitute helpful AI chatbots,” Rumpler said. “‘Social networking’ takes on a whole new meaning.”
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