Gary Vee uses AI to generate content which delivered 12,000% uplift in social media engagement

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Kate Bradley Chernis launched a company called Lately, and the problem Lately is trying to solve for entrepreneurs is twofold, Kate says.The first problem is the pain point of writing and the fear of the blank page. Believe it or not, not only is that a problem for most people, but marketers especially have a problem with writing. Kate says they don’t like it, so they hire consultants to do it or they push it off to other people. On average, it takes 12 minutes to write one single social media post, so that tells you what goes into it. The second problem they solve is the unlocking of the content they create. Generally, long-form content like blogs, videos, podcasts, or newsletters takes several hours to create, and then most of the time, nothing happens with it. Maybe there’s one public shout out, “Check out my blog,” which Kate believes is the most vapid call to action on the face of the planet, and then that’s it. And so, that’s what Lately magically solves.

How does Lately solve those problems? Initially, Kate did this manually when she used to own a marketing agency for Walmart, and she got them 130% ROI year over year for three years. At the time, it was just her. Now, it’s automated. With a blog, a newsletter, a press release, a video, or a podcast, you can put it into Lately, connect your social channels, and then Lately analyzes everything you’ve ever published. They study your analytics, they look at the highest engaging posts, and they create a writing model based on what they learned that your customers like, respond to, or share. They take that long-form content and examine that for that same content. They look for those magical keywords and phrases that light up your audience, and they pull quotes into social posts based on what they’ve found. In only 1.8 seconds, you get hundreds of pre-vetted social media posts that they believe your audience is going to want to watch, read, or listen to.

Photo from Lately

How to effectively repurpose your content using Lately

Companies always want to know what’s trending in the world, and more often than not, it’s not what’s trending with their own target audience. And so, they create these word clouds that show you, again, what words your audience are engaging within your own content, and they create clouds of hashtags, too. That allows you to look at what’s trending with your audience on a daily basis, which is very valuable, especially before coming up with more content. One observation they’ve had was that in order to scale, especially for smaller businesses, you need to be everywhere all the time, and you need both quantity and quality. This is why Lately recommends two things. First of all, you don’t want the AI to run on its own. You want to put your human eyeball on each of the posts Lately has generated. Take a few minutes to go through and grab around 30 that are really awesome. Crack a joke. Maybe add a different hashtag. Throw in something that showcases your personality. Kate says that’s the difference of starting at third base and getting the home run or not. On its own, Lately is awesome. On their own, humans are awesome. But when you combine humans plus Lately, that scores the run, and that’s the most important thing.

Another thing Kate recommends is that you schedule all, let’s say, 30 or 40 you decide to use, but do them out over time, which is otherwise known as producing legacy content. Say you’re publishing on Twitter for the next 10 weeks or so. What’s amazing about legacy content is that because none of them are the same, you get a much higher reshare percentage, even from the same people, because people love quotables. They love to share. It’s like getting to sample the food at a grocery before buying it. You’re giving customers a sneak peek of what’s really inside that content you have prepared. 

In terms of integration with other platforms or having multiple systems to manage, Lately replaces all of them, because it is a really robust and powerful platform where you can do everything you did on those other platforms. When Kate developed this idea for Walmart back in the day and got them that 130% ROI year over year, what she started with was the organization of the marketing. It was Walmart’s corporate company and the foundation, so nonprofit for profit, the IRS or the government in America, and then the National Disability Institute, United Way Worldwide, Bank of America, AT&T, and these national and global companies all had franchises, and then they also had tens of thousands of other small and medium businesses and nonprofits participating. There was a good cause that everybody wanted to help market, but in order to do that, she wanted to know more about these companies. Auditing all 20,000 was a tall order, so she created an easy way to quickly understand what was happening and what their skill levels were like. She discovered that, whether it was a library down the street or the largest retailer in the world, they all had the same problems. 

First, she organized everything from the calendar to what content they were pushing out and where it was going. She made sense of it, and that helped her uncover the redundancies. This lack of consistency is the key in marketing. That also helped her understand the writing problems and then unlock the content, which are all the things that have gone into Lately. Like what happens to all entrepreneurs, they had built an organization system, because that’s really the meat of what she had done, but it turns out that that’s the unsexiest sell around. Nobody cares about organizing, but they did care about this little feature that they had that let you push a button and create 100 social posts in 1.8 seconds. They learned to redesign and remarket the product around that, and so everything else in the background comes as a second “Aha” moment which takes their customers aback.

Lately can work with text, audio, and video

When it comes to audio and video, Lately can use that to create content too. Kate shares that she asked one of their interns to take a podcast and transcribe it for her by hand, and then they would go through and run the transcription through Lately and push a link back to the full podcast by hand. She then asked the intern to select the best parts by hand to see if that could be done. It took a year and a half, and it never got done. Kate had all these podcasts lined up, but they were collecting dust. Eventually, some customers started asking for this to be automated, so now, they can also take podcasts and videos, and run through them through the same system. Again, you upload your content to Lately, push a button, and they automatically transcribe the whole text, which you can then use as a blog post if you want to, and they will instantly find the smartest quotes that they know your customers will want to read, hear, or watch, and they will match the video clips up with that, so you get 100 mini movie trailers to promote this podcast for the next year.

Photo from Lately

What Lately is doing for Gary Vee

That’s an amazing opportunity, since you can publish everything straight from Lately. You can download it and put it where you want to, or you can publish straight through them. The kicker is that they’re working with Gary Vaynerchuk or Gary Vee, and he launched an entire Twitter channel that’s fueled 100% with Lately’s AI. Currently, they are getting him a 12,000% increase in engagement, which is quite impressive. If Gary Vee wanted to grow his audience in China or Japan, Lately also works in different languages. Surprisingly enough, Kate and her team didn’t know at first that this was possible, because they hadn’t tested it. They only found out it worked when their customers tried doing it. Once they found out, they optimised it for a better customer experience. It’s important to them, because most social media platforms don’t always cater to the rest of the world. Apart from superstars like Gary Vee, Kate shares that they’ve also been working with SAP, Microsoft, AB InBev, but also small customers, like small business solutions. Gather Voices, which I’ve talked about before, is one of their customers as well. They work with mid-sized businesses like Amerifirst and Husky.

Lately enables companies to have a multilingual campaign with a central technology platform. That is a glorious solution for companies that are taking content everyday and repurposing it across different regions. One of the things they did with the Walmart project was they started to write social posts in Spanish. They weren’t very good at speaking Spanish, so they had to bring someone in to help them. That was almost a dozen years ago. They were just discovering that the population they were trying to reach largely were Spanish-speaking. And so, you can do that now with Lately. They don’t have a translator built-in yet, but Kate says not to worry as that feature is coming soon. When it comes to integration to apps like WeChat, Weibo, and Yoku, Kate says those are also on their roadmap.

Photo from SEO Trade News

Pricing and other features

As Lately is a growing company, they’ve pulled the pricing off to be mysterious, but also because they’re consistently testing it out. They have clients that are small, medium, and large. Essentially, she says the pricing starts at $300 per month with annual contracts per license. They also do a sliding scale fee, and it really depends on the qualifications of the customer. It depends on the depth of your usage and how many licenses you plan to buy. If you’re going to buy 100 licenses, that price will go down and you could get a bulk deal. They’re still studying their customers, and that’s why Kate says it’s really important to get on a call. They treat their small customers the same way they treat their very large customers, which is with lots of love. They’re very nice and fun, so it’s a painless 20 minutes.

Another awesome feature of Lately is that you can stack accounts upon each other. There can be a national or global account that acts as a puppeteer for all of its local franchises, and you can use the AI content to syndicate across thousands of channels. That’s how they work with their larger customers. For agencies like EASTWEST PR, Kate says that one can buy a license and have multiple clients, but it’d still be a single login, so that makes it really easy to bounce between different clients without that pain of coming in and out and then keeping the logins private on the client behalf. As far as the limits, they’ve made Lately very friendly, and they’re always playing with it. Again, that’s something they cater to per customer. She says they just changed it, so she can’t rattle off what they exactly are.

One of the most important things for them over at Lately is not only does the AI require a human to make it awesome, but that marketing runs on emotion. From the five-stage SPEAK|pr methodology which is Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and Know, this is personalisation at scale, content creation, and amplification. Lately seems to be a really useful tool to help you not only come up with lots more content from one simple piece but distribute it as well, and so if you’re interested in learning more about their features and services, you can go on to their website. You can also reach Kate at @latelyaikately on all social media channels. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from Beetle Moment Marketing

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