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Using AI with Human Touch to Create Great Social Content

Using AI with Human Touch to Create Great Social Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Kate Bradley Chernis
Podcast Transcript

Kate Bradley Chernis headshotToday’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Kate Bradley Chernis, co-founder and CEO of Lately.

Bradley Chernis started her career as a radio DJ, then started a marketing firm, and it was there that she identified a unique problem: Businesses need to create tons of social media content to get noticed online, but your content will only really stand out if it’s high-quality.

And that’s why she founded Lately. The tool uses AI to turn long-form content (think: blog posts, transcripts from webinars or podcasts, or even chapters from a book) into short-form content (AKA social media posts). Marketers can then take the content created by Lately and finesse it with a little human touch to create dozens of social posts in a fraction of the time.

Bradley Chernis and I talk about some of the biggest social media marketing trends today, and how Lately helps marketers stay ahead of their competition.

Questions I ask Kate Bradley Chernis:

  • How did you go from being a rock and roll DJ to founding a social media writing tech startup?
  • How does Lately work?
  • Do you find that the AI works particularly well on any social platform, or do you need to personalize content for each channel?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to strike the balance between automation and human touch.
  • The difference between basic automation and AI.
  • Why storytelling is an important element in social media.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Kate Bradley Chernis:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to

Transcript of Using AI with Human Touch to Create Great Social Content

Transcript of Using AI with Human Touch to Create Great Social Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Kate Bradley Chernis. She is the CEO of Lately, an AI-powered social media writing software, that can be found at We’re going to talk about social media, and maybe AI, and just, who knows what else?

John Jantsch: Kate, thanks for joining me.

Kate B. Chernis: Hey, John, thanks for having me. How are you?

John Jantsch: Great. I said you were the CEO of Lately, but, like most people that come on this show, you had a life before Lately. Maybe tell us, how did you get here?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. It seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

Kate B. Chernis: In another, other life, I was a rock and roll DJ, John.

John Jantsch: Well, I had a little hint, because I think I was looking up your Skype handle, and it had music in it. I had a little hint, there.

Kate B. Chernis: Ah. Outlandos, right? Because I’m a huge Andy Summers fan, so this tells you how old I am, I’m in my mid-40s, and I’m a ginormous Police fan. Andy Summers is a great guitar player. I opted, or co-opted Outlandos for the name of my first marketing agency.

John Jantsch: Awesome. So, you ran an agency? Well, you were a rock and roll DJ, you ran an agency. Did you, like a lot of people, stumble into Lately because you needed a solution for something?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, exactly right. How I got from … I was actually at XM, so broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day, crazy town. How I got from radio to marketing is a little bit of a longer story, so I’ll just jump into time.

Kate B. Chernis: Here I was, with a marketing agency, and my first client was Walmart. It was an interesting collaboration, because it was Walmart with United Way Worldwide, National Disability Institute. They had AT&T involved, and Bank of America, and the IRS, and 10s of thousands of small and mediums businesses. Suddenly I was like, wow, this is a complete, giant mess. I built us this monster spreadsheet, and my boss was like, “Oh, you’ve got to show that to the team.” I had just built it, at first, for my own brain, to sort this out. The spreadsheet system that I built ended up getting us 130% ROI, year over year, for three years.

Kate B. Chernis: Lately is the automation of that. It’s the idea, to give you the ability to do what I did for Walmart, through the use of AI, for way less money and a fraction of the time.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Let’s talk about the AI part. Everybody is talking about AI, but I think everybody has a different idea of what it means, how it actually works. I mean, is it really a computer, or is it just a bunch of people in a building somewhere, that are spitting out this stuff to look like artificial intelligence? I think we’re in a transition period, where all of that’s on the table.

John Jantsch: At the risk of sounding like an ad for Lately, I do want you to explain, how does it work?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, for sure. You’re right, in the scope of AI, just to back up, we’re at the baby, baby, baby steps. If AI was a human, we’re not even toddlers, we’re infants, here. There is autonomous AI, which is true machine learning, and then there’s pseudo AI, which is where the machine still needs a human to move things along, which is really where we are, as a race, for the most part.

Kate B. Chernis: With Lately, the way it works is we … First of all, when you connect all of your social channels, we go ahead and we look at a year’s worth of content, and this happens instantly. We’re looking at everything you’ve published, and we’re analyzing all the words, all the keywords that resonated from your highest engaging posts, and we’re looking to replicate that model.

Kate B. Chernis: We extract short form content from long form content. Short form, in this case, being social media posts. Long form could be anything that has text. It could be a book, a newsletter, a blog, a press release. It could also be anything that we transform into text for you, like a podcast like this, or a webinar, or a video. As we’re looking at those long form content, we’re looking for similar patterns and keywords that we found already resonate with your audience. We also, then, start to learn from your analytics, and suggest additional keywords as you go forward.

Kate B. Chernis: So, there’s a coupling between the human and the AI. It’s very much a partnership where we give you the opportunity to not only curate what words we’re looking for, but then enhance the content with that magical human touch, that only you and I, and the rest of the humans have, John. So, putting that emotional component in there, so that gets you to that one plus one equals three, magical scenario.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So, the problem then is, let’s say I have a transcript of 3000 words of this podcast. The promise, then, is that the tool, the platform, can actually turn that into a bunch of tidy little social type posts, and put it in a platform that would actually allow me to schedule those posts. Is that a good summation?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, exactly. From this podcast, you might get 100 social posts. They’re drafts. We start you at third base, and about 60% will be ready to go. The other 40% requires a little human touch, so you might want to trash them, or you might want to be like, I just want to finagle one word here, and it’s going to be ready to rock. Then, we do give you the ability to publish those posts, across your various social platforms as well, yeah.

John Jantsch: Let’s say I’m a person that likes to read lots of blogs, and news sources, so I’ve actually aggregated them into some sort of reader. Theoretically, could the tool, then, take that feed, and produce a lot of content from other people’s content?

Kate B. Chernis: Yes. We do that automatically, so you can add an RSS feed. Every time a new blog is posted there, it automatically generates a pile of content, just waiting for you in a holding pattern. So, whenever you come back to the platform, it’s ready for your eyeballs.

John Jantsch: Okay. I’m sure there are a lot of listeners who are thinking, oh, this is great. I can just automate everything, I’ll have hundreds of posts that I can just spray everywhere. I can also see, from my standpoint, five years ago I would have thought, yeah that’s how I’m going to get all this stuff out there.

John Jantsch: I think people, because there’s a flood of content now … How do you make that type of practice useful, today? Instead of just, yeah I can schedule this stuff for two years out, and never have to think about it, there’s no real thought of engagement. It’s just, publish content. How do you stay away from that trap, of just producing stuff that nobody actually looks at?

Kate B. Chernis: Sure. Well, a couple of ways.

Kate B. Chernis: Number one, this is not just automation, it’s AI. It’s actually compelling, relevant content. We’re researching specifically what your audience is already raising its hand, saying I want to engage with this content, and analyzing that for you. It’s high quality content, and that’s the big difference. This is where everyone’s been making the mistake, in the past.

Kate B. Chernis: More is unavoidable. We all have to do more, we want more, more, more, more, we’ve already gone down this path. The only way to be good at more is to cut through the noise with quality. Doing what I did for Walmart as a human, alone, no one could possibly do what I had done 10 years ago, now. Everything is just growing, growing, growing. You need the coupling of the AI. That distinction of the quality is an important thing.

Kate B. Chernis: Lately is not a social marketing tool, Lately is a content writing tool, an AI powered content writing tool. We focus on making marketers better writers, and we help them do that at scale.

John Jantsch: Let’s use … I’m sure you’ve seen lots of ways that people have used it very effectively.

Kate B. Chernis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about a couple, and I already mentioned this. As a podcaster, I produce a transcript of this show, it produces 3000 to 5000 words per show. We do publish that, in a lot of ways, for SEO purposes. But, I could certainly see a tool like yours being able to turn around the quality bits of that, in a way that would actually help a podcaster attract more listeners. Now I’m putting words in your mouth. How would you see a podcaster effectively using this?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, exactly. You got the point.

Kate B. Chernis: One of the things that it touches on, whether it’s a podcaster or any other kind of use, is that the beauty of Lately is giving you, let’s just say, 50 social posts from your podcast that are all different, still point back to the link of your podcast. This is important, because …

Kate B. Chernis: There’s that old marketing adage, about winking in the dark, right? Not marketing is like winking in the dark, get it? These days, actually, the similar equivalent is marketing once or twice, meaning publishing one Twitter post, you might as well be winking in the dark. Who the heck is reading that? Never. Really? You have to publish multiple, intense, 10 or 20 a day, to hope that I’m going to see that. What are the chances, right?

Kate B. Chernis: Similarly, if you think about marketing in radio, back to radio, we used to play the same … Not saying this is good, but this is how it was. We played the same song, 300 times in one week, with the hope that you would absorb it, and listen to it, and remember it. In marketing, that used to be seven times you would have to hear, read or see an ad for you to absorb it. These days, it’s 12 to 14 times. I have to hope that you somehow see my ad 12 to 14 times, before it’s going to sink in with you.

Kate B. Chernis: Again, the only way to do that is through quantity, but then you have to have the quality as well. If I just sent you the same 40 social posts, pointing to your podcast, I’m spamming you. We hate that. If I give you 40 different access points, what we’ve found is that not only are you able to reach new and greater audiences, because different messages about your podcast resonate with different people, but even the same people will start to share your content in a greater way, because they start getting excited about it.

Kate B. Chernis: One of the ways that we found our customers are using Lately to grow their audiences, and to get that impact, is by, literally, tagging the person you’re interviewing. If you, John, were using Lately to auto-generate content from this podcast, you’re going to get all these quotes. It’s look for the most compelling quotes of what you and I are saying, because there’s some gold in here. Then, it’s going to automatically add a short link to your podcast, on the back of it, plus a hashtag, or whatever. And, you can automatically tag me, as well.

Kate B. Chernis: Here’s the beauty, is that if you publish those 40 posts, once every week, for the next 40 weeks, the chances of me retweeting your post are super high.

John Jantsch: I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships, by listening and understanding queues from your customers. This allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation, email auto responders that are ready to go, great reporting. If you want to learn a bit about the secret to building customer relationships, they’ve got a really fun series called, Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docu-series, a lot of fun, quick lessons. Just head on over to, Beyond Black Friday.

John Jantsch: Yeah, even if you have a smaller following, that really actually reads your Twitter posts, I think the compelling idea, here, is that you’re actually … Let’s say they catch five of them, they’re catching a story as opposed to, there’s another read my stuff.

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, totally. We had a customer, David Allison. He wrote this amazing book called Valuegraphics, which is the death of demographics. It’s the idea of grouping people by what they value, which is brilliant.

Kate B. Chernis: He used to have a marketing team, he would pay them $3000 a month. He fired them, he purchased Lately. When he released his book on a Monday, by noon he was number one on Amazon’s Best Seller global list, and he gives Lately all the credit. That was his book, he was running the chapters through the generator.

John Jantsch: He ran the actually PDF of a document through?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Yeah, that’s awesome. Awesome.

Kate B. Chernis: It’s amazing. By the way, we have customers now, who are actually optimizing their content for the generator. So, they’ve asked me, how do they write a blog so that more posts will get picked up, which is interesting. They want to game the AI, I love it.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about another use case. I’ll give you an example.

Kate B. Chernis: Sure.

John Jantsch: This is going to be a hard one for you, but let’s say a remodeling contractor. It’s a local business, but they’re a pretty good size. They’ve got 50 employees, and do millions of dollars worth of remodels in their community. Is a tool like this something that could benefit them?

Kate B. Chernis: For a contractor? You know, I’m going to probably say no, unless they happen to be a thought leader who is producing a ton of content. If they have a website with tons of content on resources for home buyers, and the content is long form, so blogs, videos, podcasts, then they’re going to be a great candidate for us. If they don’t already have pieces in mind, what we’ve found is that …

Kate B. Chernis: It’s so interesting, John. People hate writing, marketers hate writing, which is also kind of interesting. They just don’t want to do it. There’s this strange thing, where they want to do nothing so bad, they just want to be able to push a button and be done with it, but marketing cannot ever work that way. Marketing only works when there’s an emotional connection tied to it. You like me, you buy my things, that’s the end of it. There’s some kind of liking happening, or sympathy, empathy.

Kate B. Chernis: It’s funny, because people buy QuickBooks, for example. You sit down, and you have to do some work to get QuickBooks to work for you. But, with marketing, people are like, well why can’t I just push the button and have it done? You’re like, no. There is a reason people have a degree in this.

Kate B. Chernis: That’s the way we’ve learned to filter out our customers, by the ones who understand. They have a team in place, they’ve already educated themselves to the fact that the work is part of the deal.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about the platforms, then. Have you found that … We already mentioned Twitter, I’m going to go with Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, maybe even YouTube. You can throw anything else in there you want to, Pinterest maybe. Have you found that your tool does particularly …

John Jantsch: Well, let me ask this two ways. Do you find that your tool, the AI, does particularly well on certain platforms? Or, do you just merely find that you need to personalize for the platform?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. The AI will work on any platform, because the learning capabilities are the same across the board, and they’re applicable no matter where it is. It’s learning for that specific audience, of that platform.

Kate B. Chernis: But, there certainly are tweaks. You can have it create content for the different platforms, or you can say, I want to clone this thing that I made for Pinterest on LinkedIn, and that kind of thing. You have a lot of options, where the AI is letting go at that point. That’s where the human is coming in, and making those decisions.

Kate B. Chernis: For sure, LinkedIn is having a moment with the world right now. If you’re not actively doing social organic on LinkedIn, you are missing out. I can’t even believe it. This is how we got Gary V. to be our customer. Thank you, Jesus, that was a super awesome day. We’re actively pushing our customers to really enhance their LinkedIn, and to promote and publish more there.

Kate B. Chernis: Then, it’s interesting because … I heard somebody say, “Oh, Twitter is dead.” It is not dead. It’s just as mighty as before, it’s just different. Really, the SEO capability of Twitter, I feel, is as powerful as ever. It’s a little bit different in Instagram Facebook land, because that’s so image driven, and that’s not where our forte is. You can add images to Lately, for sure, but we’re focused on the writing.

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. We’re definitely watching this across, we have data across all of our customers. We’re watching to see, even across the industries of our customers, whose having greater uptick against which channels. There is some ebb and flow, and again it relates to either photos, specifically, or like I said, just trends, like LinkedIn being a great place for organic.

Kate B. Chernis: You know, John, the other thing I should say is, one of the requests we used to get all the time, and we don’t so much anymore, is when are you going to integrate with paid advertising? Of course, organic and paid is connected. We just stuck a stake in the sand, and we stopped doing our own paid ads. We do 100% organic, all dog fooding our own product. Dog fooding, for those who don’t know, means when you use your own thing to do your own thing. We decided to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. We’ve seen an incredible uptick in our own sales leads, and ability to generate sales.

Kate B. Chernis: We have a 50% conversion from trial to sale. The reason we do is because, by the time we pitch our leads, they’re already warm, because we only pitch leads who like, comment, and share our social. We use the social to get those people, because we’re able to do it at scale. I’m just a little company.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Let me ask you one more thing, about, say, a larger organization. Are they able to segment? In other words, they may have different product groups, or different service offerings, or different target markets all together. Have you been able to effectively allow them to meet all those objectives?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. One of our favorite features is called campaign tags, and it allows you to tag all of your content any way you like. This comes from my spreadsheet days.

Kate B. Chernis: Secretly, on the outside I’m a rock and roller, but on the inside I’m an organized nerd. I think that Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo are the end all, be all. I’ve been doing my underwear drawers for years, long before Marie came along. So, organizing is really big for us, and we found that it was our second most used feature, was this ability to literally tag your content and organize it.

Kate B. Chernis: So, for example, say you wanted to see all of your social posts pertaining to your Easter blog campaign, you can literally click a button, and it does that for you. It’ll even, actually, roll up every piece of content by campaign, so you can see all the social post links, images, videos, whatever you want, that went along with Volvo’s end of the year sale, for example.

John Jantsch: Awesome. So, Kate, tell people where they can find out more about Try Lately? I know that you have a trial period, I think, that they can actually kick the tires a little?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. We actually just 86d that in the new year, sorry. Anybody can always ask me for a favor, and I’ll probably say yes.

Kate B. Chernis: It’s The best part, John, is on Tuesdays, at 2PM Eastern, we do a free webinar. It is super duper fun, it’s open to public, where we go over some of our top features. There’s an open Zoom channel, so there’s lots of chat, there’s lots of marketing advice. Then, once a month, actually, I get on and I do a writing class, showing people exactly how to get that 70% increased engagement, by adding a little human touch to their Lately AI. It’s super fun, so I hope everyone will come.

John Jantsch: Awesome. We’ll have, obviously, links in the show notes.

John Jantsch: Kate, thanks for stopping by. I know it took us a while to get this one on the books, but I appreciate it. Hopefully, we’ll run into you next time I’m up in the Hudson Valley.

Kate B. Chernis: John, you’re cool as heck. Thank you so much, rock and roll.