Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media channels are all powerful tools for marketers. Before long, each business may have over a dozen accounts with thousands of people responding to their posts. All this can make social media marketing overwhelming.
But with Lately.ai, the AI-powered social media marketing platform, managing your social content is a breeze. The platform helps marketers scale their social publishing and reach by using a combination of historical and ongoing data to learn what works and what to post next.
We got an opportunity to interact with Kate Bradley Chernis, CEO at Lately.ai. She told us all about her journey in the SaaS domain and how Lately.ai leverages its platform for promotion and improved conversions.
Hey Kate, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Our audience is eager to know more about your journey and how Lately.ai happened.
I used to be a rock ‘n’ roll deejay, broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM Satellite Radio. What I loved about radio most was the “theater of the mind,” which makes hearing alone such a powerful sense. Because one’s imagination must fill in the blanks (vs. sight, where the whole story requires zero effort), in radio, the role of the human imagination must be thoughtfully considered. That’s your job as a good host, to guide the listener to make them feel as though that even though I wield the mic, they have a voice… that it’s a two-way street.
Eventually, though, I left XM and moved on to another music-related startup, Pump Audio, which at the time, was the largest distributor of independent music for licensing in the world. One day, two guys hand-delivered me a product for my work which normally would be mailed. Turns out they were big fans of mine at XM and wanted to meet me. It also turned out that they were angel investors. At the end of our lunch, they offered to give me $50,000 to start my first company.
That first company we started together was kind of like a miniature online radio station and we had traction. As I was marketing it though, someone else came along and said, “Hey, you’re good at marketing. How about you consult us and we’ll pay you a lot more money and you can get out of the music business altogether?”
Suddenly, I had a marketing agency and Walmart as my first client. I ended up getting them 130% ROI, year-over-year for 3 years in this spreadsheet system I built that eventually became the bedrock for Lately.
First, Lately studies any social media channel analytics you give us access to. We look back up to a year at all of your highest engaging posts and we study the words, phrases, and sentence structures within those posts. Then we build a writing model based on what we already know will get you the most likes, comments, and shares.
Next, you feed the AI brain long-form content (text, video, or audio) and we apply the writing model. The writing model is looking for the smartest pieces of that long-form content with which to atomize into smaller highlights – in the case of video, it clips up the video to go along with the words. So, you end up having dozens of mini-movie trailers to promote your podcast in seconds, for example.
Second, the AI brain has multiple levels of intelligence to access, in addition to your analytics. First, it studies me and what I write organically (I was a fiction writing major and I wrote hundreds of commercials on the radio – I’m darned good at social). I also built a series of rules based on how I write and taught it to my entire staff. They take those rules and enhance the AI so it can continue to learn. We also teach all of our customers those rules through regular workshops, so it can pull from that larger dataset as well.
We believe that AI and humans must coexist for the magic to happen. AI on its own is cold. Humans on their own are slow. But together… they are great!
So we insist our customers take the time to put a human touch on everything the AI spits out, as it learns from every edit, every deletion, and every publication. We also allow them to curate the words and phrases it uses in each model – the model which shows in black-and-white exactly which values and ideas your customers care about.
How Lately’s AI Impacts Customers.
99% of social posts get ZERO engagement because people – including sales executives – don’t know what to write. The fear of the blank page is real!
This means both publishing and CRM platforms need Lately to extend the value of their solutions, as do their customers – small, medium, and large businesses. (Incidentally, Lately has early strategic integration and sales partnerships with HubSpot, Hootsuite, and Salesforce, among others.)
In addition, content creation platforms also need Lately to extend the value of their solutions, as they often have double-digit churn because customers don’t know what to do with the content they create. (Lately also has early strategic integrations underway with ReStream, MailChimp, and others.)
Moreover, the combination of a rising number of SMBs and their need to be globally relevant plus new requirements for employees themselves to directly engage via social are driving the growth of both the publishing platform market and the demand for AI within. That means that the job descriptions of 60.8 million sales professionals and 60.4 million marketing professionals now require they directly engage targets individually on social.
The publishing platform market 2026 forecast, by the way, has it increasing 266% from $14.4 billion in 2021 to $41.6 billion in 2026. While the AI used within publishing platforms will increase 188% from 0.6 billion in 2021 to 2.2 billion in 2026.
A SaaS marketer has to be everywhere all the time – not just the brand but the individual. Only AI can turn an army of one into an actual army.
But it’s not just about quantity, the quality has to be there to drive engagement. Because Lately’s AI is designed to collaborate with humans, our customers have one heck of an edge.
Our average customer, for example, sees an increase of 180% to 240% engagement in the first 2 weeks. Gary Vee saw a 12,000% increase in engagement. That’s because the right words turn customers into evangelists. Engagement on steroids.
For promotion, we dogfood our product. Here’s how it works: I do one public speaking engagement every single day. Then, I ask each host for the file so I can run it through our AI. We publish what comes out on all of our brand channels and employee channels. We don’t do any cold calls, no cold emails, and no paid ads. We use Lately to market Lately. And we have a 98% sales conversion (not a typo). Because the AI is so smart.
Other hacks include leveraging organic by doing the work no one wants to do. But that’s the work that gets you the most impact. By which I mean, write something thoughtful every day, and once a fire is lit, fuel it like gangbusters.
For example, one social post of mine on LinkedIn garnered 278 comments – and it was a single sentence containing 73 characters, plus three hashtags (all of them made up spur-of-the-moment) and a 24-second video attached.
Why did it work?
For social, short always works; everybody’s algorithms are set to boost 80 characters or less. So, keep it short, simple, and engaging.
Secondly, hashtags that contextualize your message versus trying to pile on a trend or work as indexers (the opposite of what any marketer will tell you) crush it every time.
For example, my highest performing hashtag is #peeingmypants, which I used when Gary Vee tweeted about Lately.ai!
People get carried away about AI content creation and either trash it because they’re scared or because they don’t understand that it’s dependent upon humans – the two can’t coexist without each other.
The human must guide the AI for it to work. It’s like brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush – you still have to hold the toothbrush!
Here’s a post on our blog that talks about AI and human collaboration.
When it comes to building your external network, “the hard way is the way.” With marketing, especially, that means building a base community, individual by individual. This is the secret to creating not just customers but fans – evangelists.
Create evangelists! Evangelists work for you, for free, because they can’t help it. So the value is EXPONENTIAL.
Entrepreneurship is a lonely road, where you metaphorically get punched in the face multiple times a day, so having a solid network championing in supporting you is the reason it’s all worth it. It does take a village but it’s a village you must create.
Any Hootsuite users out there? We’re looking for beta testers – I promise it will be fun AND that your eyeballs might pop out a little – double win!
Chris Hood from Google has a good one going on (naturally, I’m a wee bit biased :-)) https://chrishood.com/the-convergence-of-social-media-and-ai/
As a SaaS content marketing agency that uses tech-driven tools to create foolproof content strategies, we learned a lot about how Lately.ai leverages AI to share conversion-worthy content.
We are sure you had a few interesting SaaS lessons too! If you want to know more about how Lately.ai works or Kate’s professional journey, we encourage you to check out their website or connect with Kate via LinkedIn.