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Meet the brave residents who took the plunge to buy homes on Britain’s eroding cliff edges

After retiring to the Norfolk coast, Lance Martin soon grew used to the deafening sound of waves crashing against the cliffs 120 ft away from his two-bedroom bungalow.

He accepted that the erosion they caused would whittle away his garden as the years passed. It was the price he paid for his plum position overlooking the sea.

What he was not expecting, however, was to hear a ‘rumbling’ underfoot as he put the kettle on one evening in March 2018 — just four months after moving in. He looked down to see the sea between his feet, the waves having swept his kitchen floor away.

Instead of running for dry land, Lance, 64, reached for his chainsaw, cut through the 18ft by 12ft kitchen joists and ‘physically dropped’ the remainder of the room into the sea. 

He then acquired a tractor to drag the rest of his house back 32 ft, before spending £100,000 rebuilding it.

‘I was determined to save my property,’ says Lance.

Despite his best efforts, however — and there have been several — his home in the picturesque village of Hemsby is far from safe. Coastal erosion has continued apace, his bungalow is now perched perilously atop a 30ft drop, and he cannot be sure it will survive the next winter.

An affable retired soldier, Lance believes it’s worth the stress: ‘It was — and is — my dream home. Every morning I get up, I have a coffee and stare out to sea. It’s fantastic.

‘I never think, ‘Oh, I’ve had enough of this!’ and want to give up. I’m here to stay.’

But for how long is surely down to the whims of the ocean . . .

According to an Environment Agency report, 53 per cent of English and Welsh cliffs are subject to instability and erosion — with many of the soft clay cliffs on the east and south coasts of England affected.

Lance Martin (pictured) from Hemsby, Norfolk, has spent £100,000 moving his £95,000 house 10 metres backwards after 30ft of coastline eroded overnight during the Beast from the East in 2018

Lance Martin (pictured) from Hemsby, Norfolk, has spent £100,000 moving his £95,000 house 10 metres backwards after 30ft of coastline eroded overnight during the Beast from the East in 2018

Global warming is accelerating the process, with higher sea levels and increasingly volatile weather. 

And perched on top of cliffs and at sea edges, are disappearing and ‘doomed’ communities who live, every day, knowing that their properties will one day end up in the sea.

Unsurprisingly, living ‘on the edge’ has a serious effect on your house’s selling price. 

Take the imposing six-bedroom Victorian mansion Cliff House, for example, just a stone’s throw from Trimingham Beach, North Norfolk, which earlier this month went on the market for £600,000.

Even a heated swimming pool, a sweeping drive and grounds of 1.75 acres can’t make up for the fact it’s a mere 260ft (80m) from the cliff edge. 

If erosion continues at a rate of about 8.2 ft (2.5 m) a year — as data suggests was the rate between 1966 and 1985 — then the home could face oblivion within just 32 years.

As a result, banks are refusing to offer a mortgage for it. Whether there’ll be cash buyers willing to take a punt on the perilous property remains to be seen.

The thought of a bargain may be enough to lure some. Others may harbour hope — often unfounded — that authorities will eventually stump up for sea defences to stop houses falling into the sea.

So, what’s it really like living on a cliff edge?

Lance, who paid £95,000 for his home in November 2017, was seduced by the seclusion of his coastal home after 17 years living in London. At the time, he says, the coast was eroding at a rate of 3 ft a year, which, given his house was 120 ft from the cliff, would have given him 30 to 40 years.

‘It would see my lifetime out,’ he says. ‘I wasn’t that concerned.’

But during the now infamous ‘Beast from the East’ storm of February 2018, ferocious winds and the stormy waters it whipped up tore 65 ft of coastline from in front of his house over just a day and a half.

Sitting just a stone's throw away from Trimingham Beach, this six-bedroom property in Trimingham, North Nortfolk, boasts a heated swimming pool and a pool house, along with two driveways, five bathrooms, a large entrance hall and a modern fitted kitchen with a separate dining room

Sitting just a stone’s throw away from Trimingham Beach, this six-bedroom property in Trimingham, North Nortfolk, boasts a heated swimming pool and a pool house, along with two driveways, five bathrooms, a large entrance hall and a modern fitted kitchen with a separate dining room

‘It was more worrying than frightening,’ he says. ‘We didn’t know how much would wash away.’

The house remained intact, however, until a fortnight later, when another deluge — Storm Emma — demolished his battered wooden kitchen floor (the bungalow was made of wood, with no foundations).

Unfazed — ‘because of my background I’ve got a bit more will-power, if that makes sense’ — Lance roped in friends to help cut the kitchen off in the dark, at 10pm.

‘It took about 90 minutes,’ he says. ‘We still had power at that point.’

While all the other nearby residents were evicted, Lance persuaded a friend to help him, aided by a tractor, drag the rest of his home back 32 ft.

‘We started at 8am. The council had given us an ultimatum: if we hadn’t done it by 1pm they would demolish me,’ says Lance. ‘We were finished by 12.30pm.’

He spent five months rebuilding the house, complete with bifold windows that give panoramic views of the sea along the front. ‘People thought I was crazy,’ he says, ‘but I was lucky. I had the cash.’

That winter, he was given permission to excavate and transport concrete sea defences that had been placed on the nearby seafront in 2013 but had since sunk, redundant, under the sand. With the help of a hired digger, he moved about 75 boulders that form a wall about 6 ft high in front of his home.

He has since had to rebuild this wall three times. And within the next year and a half, he anticipates having to drag or lift his home — which weighs 40 to 60 tonnes — across the road using specialist equipment, an operation he calls ‘Plan Z’.

Like many in the area, Lance is pinning his hopes on the fact Great Yarmouth Borough Council has submitted plans for a long-awaited sea defence scheme, the cost of which is estimated to be between £5 million and £14 million.

‘It might give us another 20 years or so,’ says Lance, ‘which would see my time out.’

While funds are granted by the Environment Agency for sea defences — from concrete walls to wooden groynes that trap sand to slow the sea’s force — sparsely populated villages are rarely a priority.

‘Government policy is to protect large urban areas and industry in the national interest,’ explains Professor Mike Elliott, chair in estuarine and coastal sciences at the University of Hull. 

He says a ‘cost benefit analysis’ is carried out to decide which stretches of coast should benefit from the estimated £2million required per 100m of defence, and, ‘with such a ratio of costs to benefits, it is not possible to protect small areas containing isolated houses.’

These areas include Green Lane, in Skipsea, East Yorkshire, where several of the 20-odd houses in the tiny community have recently been demolished by the council, with the rest expected to last only a matter of months. 

Resident Deborah Hawksley, 61, from Skipsea, East Yorkshire, whose home is under threat of coastal erosion

Resident Deborah Hawksley, 61, from Skipsea, East Yorkshire, whose home is under threat of coastal erosion

‘We feel absolutely, completely abandoned,’ says Deborah Hawksley, 64, whose family has had a holiday home here since the 1930s. 

Although sea defences have been built in nearby Bridlington and Hornsea, she says: ‘We’ve been offered nothing.’

Her two-bedroom bungalow is now just over 10 m from the cliff edge. When it reaches 9.36 m — the greatest distance of cliff reportedly taken off in one chunk — Deborah will be served an eviction notice.

‘It’s an appalling thought, but it’s going to happen,’ says Deborah, a former opera singer.

This will be the second time her family she has lost a home in Skipsea to coastal erosion — the first being a wooden bungalow her grandfather built on the seafront in the 1930s.

The Trimingham property went up for sale this month for just £600,000

The Trimingham property went up for sale this month for just £600,000

It boasts a heated swimming pool, sweeping drive and 1.75 acres... but it's just 260ft from the cliff edge

It boasts a heated swimming pool, sweeping drive and 1.75 acres… but it’s just 260ft from the cliff edge

‘We were still using it in the 1980s when one corner was literally hanging over a cliff,’ says Deborah. ‘There weren’t the stringent health and safety rulings there are now.’

After that bungalow was demolished in 1985 the family built a replacement on the field they owned directly behind, 20 m from the shore — a foolhardy decision, some might say, given the pattern of coastal erosion, but one Deborah feels was more than justified by the beauty of the location.

‘We’ve had 34 years. How many people can stand in their sitting room and see beach and blue sky?’ she asks. ‘The night skies are incredible. The air, the view, when the full moon sits over the sea — you can’t put a price on that. It’s the most magical place on earth.’

But in preparation for the inevitable, Deborah says they’ve ‘signed a personal plan with the council that commits us to agreeing to vacate our bungalow as soon as we are served with an eviction notice. In return for our compliance, they will cover the cost of demolition [quoted as in excess of £6,000].

‘Although the land remaining will still belong to us, we are not permitted to site even a static caravan. It would have to remain empty.’

For many years Deborah barely noticed the coast receding. But recent storms have sped up the process.

‘A high tide hits the cliffs and can throw rocks off. It can break our windows — it can be really terrifying,’ she says.

‘We’ve lost quite a few properties recently. Every month the council comes striding through the gardens on the seafront to measure the distance from our building to the edge of the cliff. We all feel the council will probably regret even allowing us to build on that land at all. They don’t want us here.’

Jane Evison, a councillor at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, under which jurisdiction Green Lane falls, acknowledges it is ‘not just alarming but heart-breaking’ for the families about to lose their homes. ‘When you don’t want to leave, the tendency is to bury your head in the sand and not face up to the fact it probably isn’t safe any more,’ she says. ‘We have to be the bad guys and help them through that.’

The garden of the spacious, cliff edge property

The garden of the spacious, cliff edge property

It has a magnificent view of the sea - but the coastal edge is perilously close

It has a magnificent view of the sea – but the coastal edge is perilously close

To rub (sea) salt into the wound, as Deborah Hawksley says, homeowners are normally expected to pay for the demolition of their properties when they’re no longer safe. The thousands of pounds required are not available to most.

‘So, as the local authority, we take on that responsibility,’ says Jane Evison, who explains the council can claim £6,000 back from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs per property, ‘which, of course, nowhere near covers the cost’.

Nicola Bayless, meanwhile, is relatively sanguine about the fact that the end of her street has now fallen off a cliff, coastal erosion reducing the distance from her home in Happisburgh, Norfolk, to the cliff edge from 500 m to under 100 m in 19 years.

With the house on the other side of her street — and closer to the sea — demolished in 2012, Nicola, whose husband Stephen died in 2016, aged 42, believes she has ‘at most’ ten years left in hers, and possibly as little as two or three.

‘I’m sad they don’t feel it’s worth saving,’ says Nicola, 46, mother to Darcy, 18, and Violet, 13. 

She bought her three-bedroom cottage at auction for £50,000 in 2004 — the well-documented coastal erosion problem meaning it had been unable to sell conventionally.

The coastal property has luxurious interiors and a spacious dining area

The coastal property has luxurious interiors and a spacious dining area

One of the main bedrooms at the seaview property

One of the main bedrooms at the seaview property

It might be right on the coast... but you don't even need to nip outside for a dip

It might be right on the coast… but you don’t even need to nip outside for a dip

‘I wouldn’t have been able to afford the house without it,’ says Nicola, who was as beguiled by the beauty of her area as she was the prospect of a bargain.

She had holidayed in Happisburgh as a child, and her own parents had bought a house on the same street four years earlier. Nicola and Stephen treated their daughters to picnics on the beach. Afternoons were spent swimming in the sea and fossil-hunting.

Less agreeable, however, was watching the cliff come closer with every passing year.

Once, Nicola was reading in bed when she heard an almighty thud that reverberated through the walls of her three-bed semi-detached home. ‘I was petrified,’ she says, finding the next morning ‘a big old chunk’ of the cliff was missing: ‘It looked like a giant had taken a bite out of the side.’

Houses on the coastline in Skipsea, East Ridings of Yorkshire, (Ms Hawksley's outlined in red) where councillors are set to discuss the "devastating" effect of erosion that will see dozens of people in Skipsea lose their homes to the sea on the fastest disappearing coastline in North West Europe

Houses on the coastline in Skipsea, East Ridings of Yorkshire, (Ms Hawksley’s outlined in red) where councillors are set to discuss the ‘devastating’ effect of erosion that will see dozens of people in Skipsea lose their homes to the sea on the fastest disappearing coastline in North West Europe

She admits: ‘It is quite frightening. The house trembles as the cliff erodes. You think: ‘Am I going to wake up and find myself on the edge?’ Once, my daughter and I were standing there in our waterproofs in the rain, when there was a big crack in the ground. My daughter said: ‘Mum, look, it’s moving,’ — and it went.’

In 2016 Nicola and Stephen moved into her parents’ home, on the same road three doors down and even closer to the sea.

‘We swapped with my parents because we needed more room,’ she explains.

Tragically, Stephen, a welder, died shortly afterwards — another reason Nicola is reluctant to leave: ‘The memories keep me wanting to stay.’

She is adamant that she has no regrets. ‘I know I probably haven’t got anything to leave my children, but at least they’ve had the memories and happiness.’   

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Excellent Opportunity For Investors In Liquid Cooling For Datacenters

The increasing power consumption and heat generation of processors and other datacenter equipment have brought liquid cooling into the spotlight. The growing interest in this technology is further evidenced by recent investments made in the field.

One notable development is the acquisition of CoolIT Systems, a long-standing player in the liquid cooling market, by global investment company KKR. The deal, reportedly valued at $270 million, is aimed at enabling CoolIT to expand its operations and serve a wider range of global customers in the datacenter market. This market encompasses enterprise, high-performance computing (HPC), and cloud service provider segments.

KKR’s investment in CoolIT indicates its anticipation of a profitable return. However, their statements regarding the acquisition also reflect a recognition of the challenges facing the datacenter industry in terms of sustainability. Kyle Matter, Managing Director at KKR, emphasized the increasing data and computing needs and their potential environmental impact. He expressed a belief that liquid cooling plays a crucial role in reducing the emissions footprint of the digital economy.

Projections suggest that liquid cooling will witness significant growth, potentially capturing up to 26% of the datacenter thermal management market by 2026. This is driven by the deployment of more high-performance infrastructure. CoolIT, which is soon to be acquired, has already demonstrated its growth potential by securing a spot on the Financial Times’ list of fastest-growing US companies this year, ranking at number 218.

Alan Priestley, a former technical marketing manager at Intel and currently a VP analyst at Gartner, highlighted the necessity for many companies to invest in liquid cooling to address the challenges associated with managing high-performance servers. As processors become more powerful, liquid cooling offers an effective solution to address heat dissipation concerns and optimize server performance in datacenters.

According to Priestley, CPUs currently consume around 250W to 300W of power, while GPUs range from 300W to 500W. For servers handling demanding workloads such as AI training, those equipped with up to eight GPUs can draw as much as 7-10kW per node.

Priestley further explained that datacenters are striving to increase rack densities by incorporating more memory per node and higher-performance networking. Accommodating such heightened performance requirements necessitates increased power consumption.

Andrew Buss, a senior research director at IDC, concurred with this assessment. He emphasized that as chip or package power densities continue to rise, liquid cooling becomes a more efficient and preferred option.

Buss highlighted that support for direct liquid cooling loops is now being integrated into many modern datacenter facilities and colocation providers. He pointed out that companies like Atos/Bull have embraced direct contact liquid cooling loops for their power-dense high-performance computing (HPC) servers. This allows them to fit six AMD Epyc sockets with maximum memory, NVMe storage, and 100Gbps networking into a compact 1U chassis, all cooled by a custom cooling manifold.

The growing demand for higher performance and power-intensive applications is driving the need for efficient cooling solutions like liquid cooling in datacenters. By adopting liquid cooling technologies, datacenters can effectively manage the increasing power requirements of advanced processors and GPUs while maintaining optimal performance and mitigating potential heat-related issues.

According to Moises Levy, an expert in datacenter power and cooling research at Omdia, the global adoption of liquid cooling is expected to continue increasing.

Levy suggests that while liquid cooling has reached or is nearing a tipping point for specific applications with compute-intensive workloads, its widespread adoption in the broader datacenter market is still on the horizon. He highlights that direct-to-chip and immersion cooling technologies are likely to be the primary disruptors, projected to have the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the coming years.

Direct liquid cooling, supported by CoolIT, involves circulating a coolant, typically water, through cold plates directly attached to components like processors. This type of system is relatively easier to implement within existing rack infrastructure.

On the other hand, immersion cooling submerges the entire server node in a non-conductive dielectric fluid coolant. Specialized racks, some of which position the nodes vertically instead of horizontally, are typically required for this type of system. Immersion cooling tends to be favored for new-build server rooms.

As liquid cooling technologies continue to advance, their increasing adoption is expected to bring significant benefits to datacenters in terms of improved efficiency and enhanced cooling capabilities.

European cloud operator OVHcloud has developed a unique system that combines two cooling approaches for optimal performance. Their innovative solution involves utilizing water blocks attached to the CPU and GPU while employing immersion cooling with a dielectric fluid for the remaining components.

While OVHcloud currently reserves this system for their cloud infrastructure handling intensive workloads like AI, gaming, and high-performance compute (HPC) applications, they have indicated potential future expansion.

In a similar vein, GlobalConnect, a leading data center colocation provider, plans to offer immersion-based cooling as an option to all their customers. Teaming up with immersion cooling specialist GRC, GlobalConnect announced their system deployment in February. They aim to gradually introduce this advanced cooling technology across all 16 of their data centers located in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Finland, based on customer demand.

The question arises: Can liquid cooling help achieve sustainability objectives? OVH shared that its combined system is significantly more efficient than traditional air cooling methods. They claim that in tests, their cooling system achieved a favorable partial power usage effectiveness rating (PUE) of 1.004, which specifically measures the energy consumed by the cooling system.

However, Buss, an industry expert, urged caution in adopting liquid cooling and emphasized the need for careful consideration, particularly in waste heat management. He highlighted that implementing “liquid cooling done right” can certainly contribute to enhanced efficiency and environmental sustainability by reducing reliance on compressor-based cooling and leveraging heat-exchanger technology to maintain optimal cooling loop temperatures.

Nevertheless, Buss emphasized the importance of proper implementation, as simply discharging the heat into the environment, such as a lake or river, can have detrimental effects. Therefore, the design of the ultimate heat path should be carefully planned to maximize reuse opportunities whenever feasible.

The European Union (EU) has recently expressed its desire to see more cities utilizing waste heat from data centers to heat residential homes. However, challenges arise because the heat generated is often not at a sufficiently high temperature, necessitating additional energy consumption to address this limitation. Despite these obstacles, some data center operators, like QTS in the Groningen region of the Netherlands, have ventured into exploring such initiatives.

In the previous year, the United States Department of Energy made investments in projects aimed at reducing energy consumption for cooling purposes in data centers, albeit with a relatively modest funding amount of $42 million. Additionally, we highlighted the swift adoption of liquid cooling by Chinese data centers as a response to new government regulations.

Among the liquid cooling vendors that secured investments was Iceotope, a UK-based company that received £30 million ($35.7 million at the time) in a funding round led by a Singapore-based private equity provider, with a focus on penetrating the Asian market.

Intel also forged a partnership with Green Revolution Cooling to explore liquid immersion technology. However, the chip giant recently decided to halt its plans for a $700 million research and development lab dedicated to cooling technology in Oregon, as part of its cost-cutting measures.

Unlocking Efficiency & Performance: The Evolution of Datacenters


Datacenters play a critical role in the digital age, serving as the backbone of our increasingly connected world. These centralized facilities house an extensive network of servers, storage systems, and networking equipment that enable the storage, processing, and distribution of vast amounts of data. As technology advances and data demands continue to surge, datacenters are evolving to meet the challenges of efficiency, scalability, and performance.

1. The Rise of Hyperscale Datacenters:

Hyperscale datacenters have emerged as the powerhouses of the digital infrastructure landscape. These massive facilities are designed to handle the most demanding workloads, supporting cloud services, AI, machine learning, and big data analytics. With their extensive computing power and storage capabilities, hyperscale datacenters are fueling innovation and driving digital transformation across industries.

2. The Shift to Edge Computing:

As data-driven applications proliferate, the need for low-latency and real-time processing has become paramount. This has led to the rise of edge computing, a decentralized computing model that brings data processing closer to the source of data generation. Edge datacenters are strategically located in proximity to users and devices, enabling faster response times and reducing the burden on network infrastructure. This trend is particularly crucial for applications requiring real-time data analysis, such as autonomous vehicles, IoT devices, and augmented reality.

3. Green Datacenters: Driving Sustainability:

With the increasing energy consumption of datacenters, the industry is actively pursuing greener and more sustainable solutions. Datacenters are exploring innovative approaches to reduce their carbon footprint, optimize power usage, and increase energy efficiency. These initiatives include adopting renewable energy sources, implementing advanced cooling techniques, and optimizing server utilization through virtualization and consolidation. Green datacenters not only contribute to environmental conservation but also help organizations meet their sustainability goals.

4. Security and Data Privacy:

Data security and privacy have become paramount concerns in the digital era. Datacenters house vast amounts of sensitive information, making them attractive targets for cyber threats. As a result, datacenters are continuously enhancing their security measures, implementing robust firewalls, encryption protocols, and intrusion detection systems. Compliance with data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA is also a top priority for datacenters, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of user data.

5. The Emergence of Liquid Cooling:

The ever-increasing power density of modern servers has led to significant heat dissipation challenges. To overcome this, datacenters are turning to liquid cooling as an efficient solution. Liquid cooling systems, such as direct-to-chip and immersion cooling, offer superior thermal management, enabling higher performance and energy efficiency. By efficiently dissipating heat, liquid cooling minimizes the risk of thermal throttling and extends the lifespan of critical hardware components.

Technology of Today & Tomorrow

Datacenters are at the forefront of the digital revolution, enabling seamless connectivity, storage, and processing of data. As technology advances, datacenters are continuously evolving to meet the escalating demands for efficiency, scalability, and sustainability. From hyperscale datacenters to edge computing, green initiatives, security enhancements, and liquid cooling solutions, the datacenter industry is shaping the future of our digital landscape. By embracing these advancements, organizations can unlock the full potential of their data and drive innovation in the digital age.

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The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

A faded felt bicorne hat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for $2.1 million at an auction on of the French emperor’s belongings.

Yes, that’s $2.1 million!!

The signature broad, black hat, one of a handful still in existence that Napoleon wore when he ruled 19th-century France and waged war in Europe, was initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros ($650,000-870,000). It was the centerpiece of Sunday’s auction collected by a French industrialist who died last year.

The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

But the bidding quickly jumped higher and higher until Jean Pierre Osenat, president of the Osenat auction house, designated the winner.

‘’We are at 1.5 million (Euros) for Napoleon’s hat … for this major symbol of the Napoleonic epoch,” he said, as applause rang out in the auction hall. The buyer, whose identity was not released, must pay 28.8% in commissions according to Osenat, bringing the overall cost to 1.9 million euros ($2.1 million).

While other officers customarily wore their bicorne hats with the wings facing front to back, Napoleon wore his with the ends pointing toward his shoulders. The style, known as “en bataille,” or in battle, made it easier for his troops to spot their leader in combat.

The hat on sale was first recovered by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoleon, according to the auctioneers. The hat then passed through many hands before industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez acquired it.

The entrepreneur spent more than a half-century assembling his collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, firearms, swords and coins before his death in 2022.

The sale came days before the release of Ridley Scott’s film Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix, which is rekindling interest in the controversial French ruler.

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4 Ways AI Is Transforming Social Media Marketing

Rebecca Barnatt-Smith explains how marketers and content creators can use AI-powered predicative analytics, content personalisation and scheduling tools to create successful social media campaigns.

Is artificial intelligence (AI) the next big thing for social media marketers?

With over 4.26bn social media users to serve, AI is set to transform targeting and improve content personalisation for a more focused marketing future.

AI is not a new phenomenon in the marketing world. When surveyed, over 56pc of chief marketing officers (CMOs) said they use automated assistants for content personalisation and tracking consumer insights. AI-driven social strategies are just the next step in a fast-approaching digital future of campaigning.

However, could a push for AI-infused social campaigns pose ethical concerns for future marketers? From breaching consumer privacy to decision system bias, with great technology comes great responsibility.

Here we look at AI’s impact on social media marketing and discuss some of the best AI-infused platforms that are tipped to lead social strategies in 2023.

How can AI improve your social media?

Using AI, you can quickly segment large demographics into targeted groups, track viral trends and schedule personalised content responses in seconds.

If you want to compete against commerce giants and industry leaders, your social content should be consistent, compelling and customised to each and every consumer. Here are some insights into how AI can help.

Content personalisation

In 2023, 73pc of shoppers expect brands to offer them a personalised experience and content that speaks directly to their values. AI can enhance a brand’s personalisation potential in a number of ways.

Automatically harvesting behavioural and historical consumer data, AI-generated platforms can quickly learn about a user’s interests and predict what products or services they’d be most likely to interact with, resulting in a hyper-individualised experience that can boost engagement and increase the chances of conversion.

However, with 69pc of consumers now concerned about how their data is collected and used on mobile apps, it’s important to use content personalisation tools with caution.

“As consumers continue to learn and become more informed about their data rights and how their data is currently used, I expect we’ll see more and more calls from consumers to have their data protected,” claims Swish Goswami, CEO of browser extension platform Surf.

The key here is to keep your consumers in the loop. Give your followers a chance to choose what they share, and make sure the data you collect is transparent. Personalised ads, posts and targeting is a business game changer, as long as you have consent.

Automated content posting

Creating content for your brand is the driving force behind audience engagement.

While experts recommend that brands upload social media content daily, this process can be time-consuming. Using AI-driven social media tools, marketers can feel the pressure drain away, as automated assistants not only create original content formats but automatically schedule them too.

For example, AI-infused content planner Sprout Social can generate personalised tweets that reply to fans and followers in seconds. Instead of physically manning social channels and checking for replies, Sprout Social monitors a brand’s comment section before analysing the tone and sentiment of a reply. Sprout can then suggest an auto-response that aims to carry on the conversation between the brand and the consumer.

While automatic replies can pose ethical questions about a brand’s true identity, Sprout Social ensures that before an automatic reply is posted, the social media manager is able to review and edit the content. This guarantees that the brand’s voice still has a human tone when connecting with its audience.

Hubspot is also a nifty tool to have under your belt, especially if you’re struggling to develop new content ideas. By simply pasting a content link into Hubspot’s content generation feature, it uses AI to quickly analyse the metadata and create an original social post.

Social media advertising

Social platforms are the perfect vessels for advertising success. Whether you choose TikTok or Instagram, with the ability to post a pop-up on a user’s scroll-down feed, or a sponsored TikTok that blends seamlessly into a For You Page, social channels allow for a more organic future of ad placement.

However, with so many brands utilising social media, it can be hard to make your ad stand out from the crowd. Your ads must be full of compelling captions, quick links to your online store and contain a personalised hook for your target consumer.

Using AI, brands can optimise their ad performance on social channels. With the ability to analyse historic campaigns and current trends among industry leaders, AI-driven ad tools such as Sprinklr can make recommendations for smarter campaigns that drive better results.

Also, AI-infused ad strategies are more likely to be personalised to each user’s feed. AI tools like Phrase can generate customisable ad phrasing that adapts to target individual customers. This is a great way to ensure your ad captions remain fluid and speak directly to a diverse set of leads.

Predictive analytics

While it’s easier than ever to track social media performance, acting on your results can be tricky. AI-generated monitoring tools utilise the data harvested on content engagement, clicks and consumers, and turn these insights into predictions for new campaigns, content formats and new target groups to work on.

The key here is to take these predictions and turn them into content campaigns that frame the values of your brand. It’s also important to do your own research before jumping into an AI-generated content campaign, as just like humans, AI can have a decision system bias.

“AI is fallible and in a perfect world should be used critically, responsibly and democratically,” says Annie Brown, founder of the creative sharing platform Lips. “AI is only as fair and accurate as the algorithm, and the algorithm is only as fair or accurate as the human-generated information it gathers.”

For example, if the only data your AI tool collects is from a specific consumer group, it’s likely to inherit the same biases. Therefore, it’s important to perform your own content research if you want your brand voice to remain objective on social media.

However, with more data to inform their strategy, brands that use AI to influence their social campaigns are more likely to see higher conversion payoffs.

As social platforms continue to become more visual, AI can also enhance video and image analysis. For example, AI algorithms can now identify certain aspects of Instagram images and TikTok videos, making it easier to gather more data on a user’s interests and behaviours.

Visual analytics could help a brand improve its content styles as AI tools learn more about audience preferences and the formats going viral.

Could AI take social media marketing to the next level?

AI can enhance the experience a consumer has with a brand on social media. With predictive analytics at play, the content targeted users receive is more likely to speak directly to their values.

While there are still ethical concerns surrounding an AI-infused future of campaigning, there’s hope on the horizon for data-sharing transparency and the impact of algorithmic biases as both consumers and marketers take control of how data is gathered and shared.

As machine learning gets even smarter, the possibilities are endless for brands that want to get close to their leads. From automated responses to automatic content creation, the future of social media marketing is AI-driven.

By Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

Rebecca Barnatt-Smith is a freelance content writer and multi-media marketing executive at Solvid Digital, specialising in social media trends and widespread digitalisation in the marketing sector.

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