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AI-Generated Social Media Content and Images: Benefits and Issues

Digital marketing is always changing, and so should your marketing strategies. Today, large language models (LLMs), colloquially called “AI chat,” such as ChatGPT, are changing the game and opening up new opportunities for us to engage our audiences, build brand recognition, and convert visitors to our websites into loyal fans of our brands.

However, AI platforms aren’t just for generative text. You’ve probably heard a lot by now about AI image generation platforms as well and their potential for digital marketing, particularly for generating social media assets.

Can you use AI-generated social media assets in your marketing campaign? That’s an easy question—yes. Should you? Yes, but take care.

Using AI image-generation tools to create media for your social media channels can benefit your social media campaign. However, you must also consider the potential risks and other considerations to determine whether it’s worth it.

Nobody can say with certainty what the future of AI images in social media will look like at this point, but for now, let’s take a look at how to use AI in your marketing campaigns to maximize its potential as a marketing tool—and avoid its potential pitfalls.

The Benefits of AI in Social Media Marketing

AI-powered image generation tools like DALL·E and Midjourney can create unique, interesting visuals and other digital assets for your social media marketing campaigns. Some of the benefits you can reap include:

Tired of cliché holiday images? When we asked our AI image tool for ‘a Fourth of July post for social media,’ it delivered this original patriotic montage.

No More Clip Art or Stock Photos

Clip-art and stock photography are used and reused across the web… and reused, and reused, and reused. However, with generative AI, you can create never-before-seen images that you can be certain have never been used before. Why not use these tools to set yourself apart from everyone else on the Internet?

Produce Images Quickly and Consistently

The algorithm is relentless, and successful social media marketing depends on regular and consistent posting to keep your content in front of your audience’s eyes. Because you can create social media assets with AI in large volumes more quickly than a human can, you can have a steady stream of fresh content to accompany your posts.

Add Cost-Effective Visual Flair

High-quality stock images can come with costly fees, be they single-payment fees or pricier subscriptions, and getting unique content yourself may require the expertise of expensive graphic design professionals.

For startups or small businesses with tight marketing budgets, AI-generated social media assets could be a cheaper solution to getting the visual content your campaigns need.

Dial-In Customization

There might be a bit of a learning curve, but you have the power with AI image generators to tweak and fine-tune your input and the platform’s output to help maintain a consistent visual brand aesthetic across your social media posts.

Unlock New A/B Testing Insights

AI image generators can help you create visuals tuned and tailored specifically toward certain target audiences.

And since you can quickly and easily crank out many variations on a given prompt, tweak, and fine-tune your output, you have exciting new opportunities to rapidly iterate and test social media assets and see which types of images and media resonate with your audience and which don’t.

What to Watch Out For When Using AI in Social Media Design

All these benefits of AI in social media sound great, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are serious potential cons as well as pros that you should consider before you jump full-tilt onto the AI train.

Let’s look at some of the disadvantages of AI in social media:

When AI Takes the Wheel: In this AI-generated image for a trucking company, the AI tool misinterpreted the prompt ‘man climbing into a blue semi-truck driver’s seat’ and delivered this off shot of a man climbing out of his truck window.

Lack of an Authentic Human Touch

AI image generation improves by leaps and bounds constantly, but at the end of the day, these platforms aren’t humans, and they don’t create as humans do. They may struggle to match the creativity, quality, and emotional resonances of a human touch, which can make them seem bland, generic, or phony.

AI images, especially photorealistic images, may end up with a “fake” look due to unnatural lighting or other factors, mistakes a skilled human photographer or artist would not make.

Potential Quality Issues

Look closely: The results for ‘A team of coworkers all wearing light blue shirts’ reveals some pretty unusual AI-generated neckties.

AI image generators can produce images that are low-resolution, grainy, or blurry or that feature glaring or embarrassing errors (such as the number of fingers on a human hand or teeth in a human mouth or other anatomical errors), making your brand potentially look unprofessional if such issues aren’t caught by human eyes.

Ethics and Disclosure Issues in AI Art

There are many concerns about using AI-generated content as a form of manipulation or deception. Using AI images in social media can be seen as a sign of inauthenticity or untrustworthiness, especially if you use AI-generated assets depicting nonexistent people without disclosing their source.

For many people, authenticity and being who you claim to be matters a lot, and that’s true for your next-door neighbor or coworker as much as it is for your brand. People want their favorite brands’ values to align with their behavior, and some potential customers might see the use of AI in social media design as a sign of inauthenticity.

If you’re going to use AI in your social media campaigns, be transparent about it and disclose your AI usage. People who dislike AI might not be happy, but they will at least know that you were honest about it.

Legal Considerations Surrounding AI

The law around using AI in social media marketing, or for commercial purposes in general, is very murky at this point. There are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered satisfactorily yet—such as whether generating an AI image of a real person would constitute misrepresentation or defamation, or if an AI that unintentionally generates an image resembling copyrighted material is responsible for copyright infringement.

The future of AI in social media is especially a loaded question, with heated debates over how AI could be used to spread misinformation and disinformation, a problem social media platforms already struggle with.

Until we have more concrete legal guidelines regulating the commercial use of AI art, closely study the guidelines and usage terms provided by the AI platform you’re using and make sure to follow them.

Lack of Context/Relevance

For all AI platforms’ recent advancements, at the end of the day, an AI is not “intelligent” in the same sense that we are, and can’t always understand context, leading to it generating images that are irrelevant or inappropriate to the specific contexts of your social media campaigns.

Strike a Balance with AI Images in Social Media

So, weighing the pros and cons of AI in your social media campaigns, the question is—should you do it?

The answer—it’s up to you, but we recommend striking a balance between utilizing AI art and good old-fashioned human-made art.

AI images can be a valuable part of your social media marketing toolkit, but you need to exercise your judgment and use them to augment your human creative works, not replace them altogether.

Remember, at the end of the day, technology exists to assist us, not to replace us. AI images in social media can enhance and streamline our marketing efforts, but you still need a human touch to really resonate with your audience.

We at Intuitive Websites wish you the best of luck leveraging this powerful new technology to elevate your social media assets and get found! Got questions? Reach out to us for a free marketing strategy consultation.

Eager to learn more about the power of AI chat in content marketing? Download A Marketing Revolution: AI and the Future of Digital Marketing for free.

Any further questions about AI chat and image generation? Reach out to us for a free marketing strategy consultation today!

Willow Ascenzo

Contributing author: Willow Ascenzo, one of IW’s content specialists based in southern Wisconsin. Prior to joining IW, Willow had over six years of experience crafting long-form website content for various tech startups in the Madison area.