Half of consumers to limit social media use by 2025 over generative AI's ill effects

Misinformation, toxic user bases and the prevalence of bots are predicted to put marketing efforts at risk, Gartner says

A Gartner survey has shown that 72 per cent of consumers believe AI-based content generators could spread false or misleading information. iStockPhoto
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About 50 per cent of consumers are expected to significantly limit their use of social media by 2025 over concerns that generative artificial intelligence is harming user experience, a new study has shown.

More than two thirds of respondents, or seven out of 10, agree that greater integration of generative AI into social media platforms may damage perception of brand and affect consumer loyalty, Gartner said.

This is among the top reasons, which include scepticism over the spread of misinformation, toxic user bases and the prevalence of bots, the US research firm said.

This is despite social media remaining the top tool and investment channel for digital marketing, Emily Weiss, a senior principal researcher in the Gartner Marketing Practice, wrote in the report.

“A significant slice says that, compared to a few years ago, they are sharing less of their own lives and content,” she said.

“As the nature of social media use and the experience of the platforms changes, CMOs [chief marketing officers] must refocus their customer acquisition and loyalty retention strategies in response.”

AI gained momentum with the introduction of generative AI, which rose to prominence thanks to ChatGPT.

AI does play a huge role in promoting brands, as it can streamline the sales process by using extremely detailed data on individuals, including real-time geolocation data, to create highly personalised product or service offers, researchers at the Harvard Business Review said.

But its sudden rise has also raised questions about how data is used in AI models and how the law applies to the output of those models, such as a paragraph of text, a computer-generated image, or videos, as well as concerns on bias and infringement.

Data from a previous Gartner survey showed that 72 per cent of consumers believe AI-based content generators could spread false or misleading information.

In addition, a separate survey from the research firm found consumers’ perception that AI-powered experiences and capabilities are better than humans is eroding.

“Mistrust and lack of confidence in AI’s abilities will drive some consumers to seek out AI-free brands and interactions,” Ms Weiss said.

“A subsection of brands will shun AI and prioritise more human positioning. This ‘acoustic’ concept will be leveraged to distance brands from perceptions of AI-powered businesses as impersonal and homogeneous.”

One silver lining for marketing teams, however, is that generative AI can contribute to increased productivity and cost savings, particularly for creative services, Gartner said.

“The use of GenAI in a creative team’s routine daily work frees them up to do higher level, more impactful creative ideation, testing, and analysis,” Ms Weiss said.

“As a result, creative will play a more important and measurable role in driving business results, and CMOs will actually increase their spending on creative and content.”

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In addition, the rapid adoption of generative AI in search engines is poised to “significantly disrupt” CMOs’ ability to harness organic search to drive sales.

A recent Gartner survey showed that consumers are ready for AI-enhanced search, with 79 per cent of respondents expecting to use it within the next year. The same report said about 70 per cent of consumers expressed “at least some trust” in search results powered by generative AI.

“CMOs must prepare for the disruption that generative AI-backed search will bring to their organic search strategies. Marketing leaders whose brands rely on SEO [search engine optimisation] should consider allocating resources to testing other channels in order to diversify,” Ms Weiss said.

Updated: December 17, 2023, 3:30 AM