On this, the fifth day of social media and digital media, Deb Dobson, Marketing Technology Manager at Fisher Phillips, sheds light on how AI, combined with automation, will be bigger than the sum of its parts. When combined, they have the potential to not only reshape legal marketing, but also the delivery of client services.
What has shifted in the last 12 months in social & digital media?
Being a marketing technology futurist, I tend to keep an eye on technologies that are in the early stages of development. One of those technologies that has had an impact, mostly in the B2C space, is artificial intelligence (AI). For the most part, marketing has focused on machine learning.
Predictive analytics for programmatic buying has been the most prevalent use for the last couple of years. For example, when I was thinking about purchasing a drone, I was stalked on a number of websites by drones. ESPN, Amazon, CNN, Facebook and many other sites would display various models of drones, of course, tempting me even more. This use of AI allows companies to make recommendations and curate content for their visitors – think Netflix - whose algorithm is continually improving user suggestions helping them get the most out of their subscription…and for that matter, satisfy their binge watching habit.
Another example is Google’s RankBrain, an AI system, to interpret a ‘very large fraction’ of search queries. This means better natural language processing (NLP) to help find relevance in content and queries, as well as better interpretation of voice search and user context (e.g., Google Now).
These are just a few examples of AI. Some other areas where AI is being developed is social semantics (Microsoft’s AI chatbot ‘Tay’ who had a few regrettable tweets.). Sentiment analytics, product recommendations, image and voice recognition are other areas where machine learning on large datasets is being developed, and at a very fast pace.
Why is AI important to legal marketers? Because AI is able to bring together disparate data, platforms and technology to deliver against ever-rising client/potential client expectations. AI has the potential to deliver a satisfying experience cheaper, quicker and more relevant giving a law firm competitive edge in the marketplace. Think how powerful it would be to deliver firm content, not only personalized, but before the client or prospect thought they needed it?
And, think how using a technology such as RankBrain could improve the search capability on your website.
What has caught your eye recently as a smart use of social & digital media?
I’m very impressed with Under Armour’s use of artificial intelligence for marketing their products. They are one of many companies who have worked with IBM’s Watson. Under Armour is using Watson in its fitness and health apps.
They combine user data from its Record app, which launched a year ago as an activity aggregator and monitor (integrating data from wearables from Jawbone, Withings and Garmin) and research on health and fitness. The first version will be a “just like me” feature which will compare users with anonymized other individuals to provide insights about the person’s performance and make suggestions. Plans for the future include a Siri-like personal trainer called the Cognitive Coaching System.
What’s the biggest challenge for law firms trying to be active in the social & digital media space, and how can they overcome it?
I would agree with Karen Cariello, Vice President of Business Development for JD Supra. Most firms, and for that matter many attorneys, are simply pushing out content and not engaging in the social space. As there is so much content for readers to consume, it is hard to stand out in the space. Engagement is key, and analytics will help firms to “listen” to their audience. I believe AI tools will help to better analyze the data and deliver the content faster, cheaper and more relevant.
The other challenge is getting law firms to become early adopters of technology in the social and digital media space. Those who are willing to experiment early on will gain an advantage over those who don’t.
What’s the next big thing in social & digital media marketing for law firms for 2017?
At this point, you’re seeing a trend. Yes, AI. I believe AI tools can help deliver predictive client service, better competitive and business intelligence, analytics and many other things that will give a law firm an edge. I predict we will see more companies experimenting with chatbots, and perhaps a few law firms.
Joshua Browder, a Stanford undergrad student created a new chat-bot legal service called DoNotPay, a bot that ask the user questions and figures out if they can get out of parking tickets or compensated for another ‘service gone wrong.’
I also think we’ll continue to see firm’s hiring marketing technologist to keep up with the rapidly changing and evolving technology. In today’s competitive legal environment, law firms need to identify and implement these emerging technologies for marketing, business development and client service.
About Deb Dobson
Deb Dobson is the marketing technology manager at Fisher & Phillips LLP. She is interested in how marketing and emerging technologies can help law firms reach their business goals. She can be reached at email@example.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @debdobson.
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Save The Date!
Save the date for Tuesday, January 17, 1 PM CT/ 2 PM ET as the Social & Digital Media SIG is kicking off the new year by tackling an important issue. "Conquering the Generational Content Divide: What You Need to Know to Reach All Generations with Your Digital Content," with presenters Molly Miller, Chief Content Officer, ALM, Helen Bertelli, Vice President, Infinite Global Consulting, and new Social & Digital Media SIG co-chair, Karen Cariello, Vice President, JD Supra. Register early so you can get this important webinar on your calendar!