Now, AI is sweeping the world, interjecting generative questions and large language doubts into the future of our businesses and marketing agencies. There’s no doubt. There’s opportunity. AI will contribute 15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Yet at the same time, nearly 82 percent of digital marketers think content writers’ jobs are at risk because of AI.

How should we use AI? How should we talk about it with clients? How different will our agencies look in the years to come? That’s exactly what Christopher Carr is going to talk to us about in this episode of Social Pulse Podcast, hosted by head of Strategic Partnerships, Mike Allton. You can listen to the podcast below or read on for the highlights.

Chris launched his agency in his spare time in 2001 and quickly grew it into a comprehensive digital marketing agency that now specializes in helping clients in the healthcare, orthopedics, manufacturing, SAS, and cybersecurity fields, and is seeing explosive growth through a proven marketing platform system with roughly 50 team members.

Mike Allton: Farotech has also formed strategic partnerships with HubSpot, Wistia, and Google, and while Chris has embraced artificial intelligence, he has a certification in applied generative AI from MIT and speaks to companies nationwide through a presentation called AI Today: the State of AI, Where It Is At, Where It’s Going, and How Your Business Can Be Prepared.

Getting to Know Farotech

So let’s start off by telling us about the work you’re doing today. Talk to us about, you know, who Farotech is, the kind of clients you serve. Give us the lowdown.

Chris Carr: I started Farotech in 2001, so we’re going on about 24 years now. We are a digital marketing agency. We’re a platinum partner with HubSpot, but what we do is have a very unique approach that allows us to not only help generate leads, nurture leads, and convert leads—but we also have some special sauce that allows us to use cutting-edge technology like AI and, automation to supercharge your approach, to maximize your efficiency, and compete in a rapidly changing landscape like we have right now.

Mike Allton: You’ve got a degree from MIT in this kind of stuff. You mentioned AI. That doesn’t happen overnight. When did you first kind of start to realize that AI was going to have an impact on your agency? And honestly, what were your first thoughts?

Chris Carr: The funny part, it was a certification from MIT that was in generative AI and transformation. And what was very funny about that is that I had a podcast with my business partner, and we had Paul Roetzer, who we both know. He runs an organization called the Marketing AI Institute. I thought I was going to be interviewing him about his agency PR 2020. I was totally prepared for that.

And he was like, “It looks like you guys didn’t do your homework. I sold that agency, and I just do AI.”

Nerds in California won’t replace me with super-robots

So this was early 2021. I thought AI was going to be like the Terminator. And within an hour long podcast, I looked at my business partner and I said, “Everything’s about to change. I have 25 full time employees with subcontractors who are about 50 people, and I refuse to let everything I’ve built just basically go down the drain just because some nerds in California across the world are building these super robots to replace me.”

So I thought the only way to win this battle is to get ahead of it. And so for the last two and a half years, all I’ve done is just AI. I’ve gotten to a point now where it’s like a speed train. It’s like a speeding bullet train, and you have to be on top of it every day and every waking moment.

And so when I’m not reading about AI, I’m watching videos about it. When I’m not watching videos about it, I’m experimenting with it. I’m using these technologies in my agency, but I’m also doing it using experiments with my clients. And so when you have the number of clients that we have, we’re able to have a larger laboratory.

And so what that’s allowed us to do is kind of see theory put into action and action ideally into better results or more efficiency.

Mike Allton: It’s funny you mentioned Terminator. I worked a number of years ago as a consultant with Brad Fiedel, who was the composer on the Terminator. He wrote the theme music for Terminator. He wrote that, and we were doing this special 30th anniversary of the movie contest where he wanted people to create their own versions of that iconic music on social media. And so I really spent a lot of time immersed in that film. And it is exactly what I think of when I look at AI and I think about AI, it comes up instantly.


Chris Carr: It’s prophetic. It’s just bizarre how there’s literally—I mean, I don’t know whether the audience knows that when you were on my show and I found you were a movie buff, we exchanged memes and everything about every movie possible under the sun on a regular basis. But Terminator is one of the big ones.

I think there’s literally a line that said John Connor was asked, like, this technology doesn’t exist right now. Like, it was in 40 years at will. And this is practically the 40th day, 40th year when that movie was launched. Like, I’m looking at Optimus, I’m looking at the figure, I’m looking at all of these robots that will be out in the next three years. And I’m like, “Not too far off.”

What Resources Can Help Agencies Catch Up to Learning About AI?

Mike Allton: You know, it can be a little scary, but also fun. And you mentioned some great resources. What are some of those other sources that you’re turning to—particularly for the agencies listening—who feel like maybe they’re behind and it’s okay? It won’t take you long to catch up. What should we listen to?

Chris Carr: I listen to Marketing Against the Grain, HubSpot and Zapier kind of combine together to have a podcast. That’s really good. I look at the tools from AI Grind, and then also from a guy named Matt Wolf. Very quirky guys, but on top of everything. Then I’m at a point now from a YouTube perspective where it just has me in the algorithm. And sometimes I don’t even know the names, but I know the faces. And I just see these guys and they’re looking at this stuff and reading the papers that I don’t have time to read. So that’s a lot of what you’re talking about here is you’re seeing papers being published and released and what is the impact of that.

And I need a nerd to dissect that because I don’t have time to read like 200 page papers of super-condensed, dense stuff. It’s tough. It’s tough.

Mike Allton: I know all of you listening are the same way. You feel like you don’t have time. I’m the same way. I don’t feel like I have time. And so, yeah, it’s great to have those resources that are kind of summing up, bringing the most important stories, the most important developments because we don’t necessarily have to know how to do or learn everything.

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Are We in an AI Revolution?

But that brings me to my next question for you. So I’m really curious exactly how you might have positioned your agency because what’s happening now is what I would term an AI revolution. It’s a little hard to see when we’re in it. But I know five or six years from now, we’re gonna look back and historians are gonna say this was like the Industrial Revolution. Yes, centuries past. It was that fundamental change in society. How are you positioning your agency to take advantage of that?

Chris Carr: Let me go on a little bit of a tangent on the question you asked first, and then I’ll get into my agency. Like when you’re talking about the Industrial Revolution, I believe it mirrors that directly.

There’s so much. There’s a couple of different correlations that I think of pretty much all the time.

One: I think of the Industrial Revolution because it’s going to impact businesses in ways that there is going to be massive shakeup, massive disruption, but there’s also going to be tremendous opportunity.

I think of Oppenheimer. I know that sounds crazy, but from a pessimistic standpoint, I look at we just set something—I’m not saying it’s a ticking time bomb—but what I am saying is that there’s a scene in the movie where he says, “How do we know this isn’t going to melt the atmosphere?”

And he goes, “Well, we don’t, but it’s like less than 1%.”

David’s character is like, “I’d like it to be zero.” And it’s not zero. It’s not zero for AI. It’s absolutely not zero for AI. I don’t think the Terminators are going to get us, but I do think there’s some scary days ahead of us to steal a Jurassic Park reference.

Like there’s a lot of people that aren’t saying whether we should. They’re just trying to ask whether we could.

So that’s a big thing from an Oppenheimer movie. And then, I think one of the newer ones that I just started thinking about a lot is you have the Industrial Revolution, then you have what I just mentioned, the Oppenheimer thing, but what I try to compare it to is the Wright Brothers.

We flew an airplane 10 feet above the ground, for about 300 yards, and it was a modern marvel, and 66 years later, we were on the moon, and while 66 years is actually a short amount of time, I don’t even believe we have 66 months.

I think that the landscape of what you’re looking at right now is going to radically change by the end of this year. And three years from now, it’s going to be a radically different world that we’re living in …

We’re in Phase Two

We’re in what’s called Phase Two. So Phase One we were, as individuals, getting used to the tools, but we’re in Phase Two where all the companies are seamlessly integrating AI into the architecture of their software platforms.

So if we had a new force basically crashing into the world, we’d have to embrace this. There would be some disruption where they’d have to say, “Hey, you know what? I’ve got to get this new piece of software. I’ve got to apply it. I’ve got to learn it. And I got to do these things, we already have all the software.”

It’s already in our buildings. It’s already in our tech stacks. And now AI is going to be rocket fuel, empowering all of the softwares that we know and love. And it’s all being built underneath our feet, and it’s radically going to change what we do and how we do it. And it’s not only just from an experience standpoint of how much stronger it’s getting, it’s how quick it’s going to get here.

So what have I done as an organization? I say, “Hey, you know what? It was hard enough before.” So you had to concentrate on your business. That’s rabbit number one. Now I’m telling you about an emerging AI technology that’s going to change everything. Well, the person who tries to chase the person who tries to chase two rabbits catches none.

And so where am I? I’m the company that not only tells you what emerging AI technology is coming, but I’m also going to say, “Look, these are the tools that we tried and tested. These are the ones we can grow through custom programming. These are the tools that are already out in the market. These are softwares you’re already using. And these are the AI technologies that are going to be used to improve them.” This is the roadmap. So we’re saving a lot of companies time and energy and money because a director of AI or a CIO who is going to also learn AI on top of his normal job doesn’t exist in the landscape.

I think it caught us flatfooted. And so my place in the market is to come as a consultant and basically say, “Look, we’re already doing marketing with you. Let me kind of show you what’s being built under the surface here. So you don’t get caught up until you don’t get caught blindsided.”

Mike Allton: So it’s a lot like the scenario we were describing a moment ago where you are tapping into all these other resources to help you surface the trends, the changes, the news that you need to know about, summarizing what needs to be summarized and that sort of thing.

You’re doing that exact same service to your clients and making sure that the changes that are happening to AI are translated into a way that makes sense to them and is applicable to their business.

Chris Carr: I also run something called AI in a Day, where I meet with your C-level executives and I say, “I’m going to teach you everything that you need to know about AI in an eight-hour period, so that when you keep hearing about this stuff, you’re going to know what are the terms, what are the vocab, how to use the large language models, which tools that I like, how to put in prompts, how to speed up communication, how to speed up content creation, how to look and talk with data to figure out what analytics are working and what’s not and where I believe marketing and advertising are going.”

What Advice Do You Have for Agencies Who Haven’t Embraced AI Yet?

Mike Allton: What other advice do you have? As to what I want to ask, what other advice do you have for agency owners, particularly if they haven’t really embraced AI yet?

The first thing you have to do is to basically adopt an attitude of AI literacy. (Chris Carr)

Chris Carr: I would start with ChatGPT. While there’s a lot of tools out there, ChatGPT right now is currently the gold standard. I would say Gemini and Anthropic’s Claude are neck-and-neck with them. But ChatGPT just seems to have that special sauce that allows you to just digest things and get a feel for where the landscape’s going.

I would recommend getting the paid approach. If you’re not using the paid approach, it’s $20 a month. I’d recommend that you pick two or three people in your organization who are going to be your pilot team that are going to try to learn the technologies that they’re going to go to your vendors and ask critical questions like, “Where’s AI in my roadmap?”

These are the people that are going to experiment in your company. And then they’re also going to help develop your policies and procedures so that you’re not putting proprietary information onto the web. You’re learning it, you’re teaching your small group to learn it, you’re reaching out to your vendors. Then I would look to talk to a consultant organization like mine to say, “Hey, how is this going to be put into the fabric of where you’re trying to grow and scale as a company?”

Mike Allton: Fantastic advice. You know, starting with the basics, like what is a large language model? What are the different large language models? That’s a great place to start. I’d also recommend looking at a tool like Magi that combines a lot of those large language models into a single interface. So you could pay Magi $20 a month, and then you’ve got full access to AI.

ChatGPT is paid, as well as Claude. And then I heard this terrific advice. I was listening to the podcast Think Fast, Talk Smart. And they were talking about this very topic. Now, it wasn’t necessarily geared to marketing agencies, but I think if you’re an agency owner listening and you haven’t really used an app, go into ChatGPT and instead of trying to get it to create a blog post or something dumb you’re not going to be impressed with the results because you’re not doing it right, start by asking ChatGPT about a very personal decision that you need to make.

The advice there was so interesting because what they’re saying is ChatGPT is going to ask you questions and you’re going to have a conversation with ChatGPT and at the end of that conversation, you’re going to be blown away how you feel coming out of that conversation. Like, wow, it was almost like talking to a real person who had that information, that insight, and cared about what I had to say and wasn’t just trying to solve the problem like a normal person would.

Mike Allton: You’ll be impressed coming out of that. And then you’ll start to have ideas of what else you could use it for.

Chris Carr: And it’s getting crazy out there.

Crazy Things You Can Do With AI

Mike Allton: Fabulous. So, Chris, talk to us about the crazy things that we can do with AI right now and then give us a glimpse of what you think’s coming in the next—I was going to say one to two years, but it might more than be like one to two months.

Chris Carr: I’m going to show you three things.

Increase your total addressable market

The first thing is I’m going to show you how to increase your total addressable market (TAM). This is just a real quick video. I know that most of your listeners are in the audio version. So I’ll work with you to summarize what they just saw. But I think even just by listening here, you’re going to be able to see just kind of some radical, radical things that are coming down the pike.

So I’m going to be using a tool called HeyGen combined with 11 labs. And essentially what I do is I have a video and I talk a little bit about what makes me unique. And then what you’re going to see is I’m going to talk in eight major languages. Now that part’s really cool. And I think other people have seen that.

But what you’re going to see, if you’re seeing the video version, is the AI is controlling my facial gestures, my mouth gestures, and everything else. And so, when you go and talk to an individual and it speaks a different language, the nuance in how you communicate actually really, really matters. And the AI is just doing this for me. Let me kind of show you what I’m talking about here.

You see, most companies struggle to prove ROI on the marketing because they neither have the time nor the expertise. Our system ensures that businesses make data-driven decisions. And with that, they’re able to grow and scale their business with clarity. Okay, now here’s where it gets cool. Please focus on my eyes, my mouth, and my gestures.

I would like to use them this morning to say something.

Okay, this is where it gets cool. Please focus on my eyes, mouth, and gestures. Now it’s getting really cool. Please pay attention to my eyes, mouth, and gestures. It’s pretty scary, right? Now let’s take it one step further. This is me speaking in English. Pretty creepy, right? This is me speaking in Mandarin.

Mike Allton: So, folks, what you didn’t see was the AI actually replaced Chris’s face with an Asian version of Chris speaking fluently. I missed it. Was it Mandarin right then?

Chris Carr: Mandarin. And then it changed the facial expressions on the deep fake. It’s like, “What? Oh my gosh, that’s getting a little bit crazy out there,” but from a positive perspective, there’s a lot of companies that are going to be able to use what’s called real time semantic interpretation.

A company called Interprefy can connect right into Zoom, can connect right into Teams. And so if you have, let’s say, if you have a manufacturer or distributor in China, you can speak in English, and they’ll hear it in their own language. It’s like, for us movie nerds, in The Last Starfighter, when they put that chip on Alex’s vest and they could hear it in their own tongue. That’s exactly the way it’s like.

Mike Allton: And you said there were a couple other things you wanted to share?

How large language models work

Chris Carr: Yeah, let me just jump into this one. So this one here is the future of the way large language models will work. I go, and I just say, “Hey, you know what, this is ChatGPT, but this is what it’s going to be this year.”

This is already kind of built into Gemini already. So I would say, “Hey, I ate at a restaurant last night in Ambler,” and I liked an item on the menu that had shrimp in it. It would show me images from the menu or generative images that show me the three things on the menu that had shrimp in it. I would say something like, “Yeah, I had number two. How many calories are in that?”

It would say it had 1300 calories in that. And I say, “Can you make me an alternative?” And so it makes me an alternative for 680 calories, but it takes it one step farther. Now, it would say, “Hey, please use my Instacart plug-in so that those ingredients are at my door in three hours.” So what’s the big deal here?

We have always bought services from Google. Now you have interruption marketing with social media, but now you have a third lane of the highway. That is conversational. And this is something that you brought up before, that from a conversational perspective isn’t something we’ve done before.

It’s a whole lot less friction. You can really filter in and really dig into the details. And what this is going to do is it’s going to be a whole ‘nother lane on the highway that we as agencies have to know how to sell into.

I believe that anywhere in the world, any course of action that has less friction is probably going to win. So I think businesses have to understand, “How do I sell my products and services conversationally?”

Mike Allton: And again, this is where agencies who like you are taking the time to understand the power and potential of AI today are so impactful for businesses because obviously most business owners are not going to know that most restaurant owners will have no idea of what you just shared.

And therefore the ones who aren’t putting that kind of information on the web are going to lose out. And you and I both know, and everybody listening knows that when you go looking for restaurants, some of them have the full menu available. Some of them don’t. Most of them don’t have calorie counts available online.

The ones who do are the ones who are going to be able to take advantage of just this very basic scenario. And just imagine how much more you’ll be able to leverage ChatGPT and the other AI models in the near future. So, that’s the second part of the question. This is what’s available like right now basically.

What’s Coming Up in AI in the Short Term?

Chris Carr: Well, let me expand on that, and then I’ll show you what I believe is coming up in the near term. The other thing is it also reads your Google local listings. So you’ll be able to ask menu choices, “is that gluten free?” And it’ll read the comments that are there as well.

So you’ll have a conversational experience with the restaurant. You’re about the book, and you’ll probably book it through OpenTable conversationally, you know what I mean? “I do want a table for four. But the last time I was there, I actually sat by the window. And they would say yes, but that table no longer seats four people.”

Chris Carr: “It’s for eight or more.” You know what I mean? Like, OpenTable is going to have to be able to know that level of nuance with your business. Other things that I’m going to kind of show you the future of advertising here real quick.

Hyper personalization

Mike Allton: I have seen some crazy things coming with advertising. Like, Minority Report levels of personalization.

Chris Carr: Yes. Absolutely. So when, when I see this stuff, and I say, “Hey, what is the goal of advertising?” It’s not to create. Use generative art technology to create cute and fuzzy unicorns, right? See, the goal of all of this is actually hyper-personalization.

And with hyper-personalization, let me kind of give you a real quick story. This is my business partner, Todd. If you know anything about Todd, he loves to golf. But he also buys from businesses that he knows, that he likes, and that he trusts. So when Todd is going to basically try to buy something, who does he know, like, and trust more than anybody else?

Probably himself. So from a social media perspective and just certain things that we’re going to be able to just literally opt into when he goes to see golf equipment. Sure. It’s going to know his favorite color and his buying intent, but the images in the ad are going to look eerily similar to himself.

So, if you’re an African-American woman who loves her kid, but you’re also in the market for a laptop, it’s not going to be using stock photography. It’s going to be using generative art, AI technology, so that the ads look just like you. From a music perspective, this is an AI-driven song by Post Malone.

So that’s scary enough as it is, but this is how deep the rabbit hole can go. This is a fake social media profile for Amanda Smith. Amanda just broke up with her boyfriend, and she’s very upset. She’s starting nursing school. She doesn’t think she’s going to graduate, but on a lighter note, she looks to the future.

Assuming licensing agreements all work out the way they think they will, when she listens to Post Malone, she’s going to have a hyper-personalized song written just for her about boyfriends and college and puppies. So, if you want to talk about an echo chamber, if you want to talk about hyper personalization, the NVIDIA chip that just came out is 30 times stronger than the one that built all the large language models that are changing the world right now.

30 times stronger.

So before we’d say, “Well, we don’t have the computer to basically make a generative image of everything that looks just like us.” I’m like, “30 times stronger? Yeah, we do.”

Mike Allton: We do now. I was on a marketing and sales call with BBC Studios last week. And one of the other vendors in the call, this is literally what they were showing. They will be embedded on your website: comprehensive, dynamic, contextual ads that not only look at what else is on the website and create a related ad but look at who is actually viewing the ad at any given moment and personalize that ad for them. They can do that right now.

Chris Carr: I’ve been doing that for a year now, with contextual, context-based AI, but I didn’t make it look like you. And that’s how crazy things are getting other things that I’ve just seen from a custom GPT standpoint and from an influencer’s.

I know that you work with a lot of influencers here. What you’re going to see is that you will create a custom GPT.

What Are Opportunities and Challenges for AI in Social Media?

Mike Allton: When it comes to social media marketing specifically, what are some of the opportunities and challenges that AI is offering us today?

[Chris Carr: The challenges we’re seeing is just being in a position where you can create things, where before it would take you time to research and things like that.

What I would still say, before you were spamming, now you can spam way faster, and I don’t even say way stronger, I think you’re just creating a whole lot more noise. So I think that the age old problem of content creation, we’ve just been able to spam faster. And I think that’s a big challenge in the market.

And so now everything’s become very, very noisy. What’s also cool is that you’ve got really great tools like Agorapulse, things like that are finding ways to be a whole lot more innovative with your time, to use metrics, to make more data-driven decisions with your social media.

And a lot of what I’m starting to see is just the ability, specifically like for me, for YouTube, is I’m able to dissect the data a whole lot better. And so I will get reports from TeamBuddy or TubeBuddy, whatever it is. I’ll put them in a consolidated file, and I can put them into something like ChatGPT.

Because it’s multimodal, I’ll say, what am I missing in my analytics here? Because I know what I know, but I’m very close to this issue. And so it’s almost like having a super smart intern that has no bias, and they will read your data through a lens that might give you the straight dope.

Mike Allton: You didn’t want to hear, but I’ll tell you straight.

I’m glad you brought up that point about how it’s so useful for saving time, but not necessarily in that generative copy kind of perspective, but more in the analysis and brainstorming. Those are the areas where AI can really shine, I think, in where you’re going to be able to differentiate yourself as a social media marketer, agency owner, whatever.

How Do You Measure Your Business Impact?

But you also mentioned metrics. How are you currently measuring the business impact of social media for your clients?

Chris Carr: So a lot of what I try to do is I try to cast a wide net from an audience. Then I try to create these engagement hooks. And then from the engagement hook, I try to start independent conversations, either through my comments or through comment hashtags.

And then what I’m really trying to do (and this is old school here) I’m trying to get them off of the social media platform and into HubSpot so that I can either drip to them or at least know if they validated or come to my website so I know how to engage with them in the future. I build my list that way, and I build my subscribers and newsletter list from that.

So my KPI is what I’m trying to do: cast a wide net and then literally learn the businesses and the people involved. A lot more Bob Smiths than I need to know, like these people, like this post in the vague generalities. I need to know people’s names, and so I get very specific, but you can’t do that unless, in theory, you’re willing to do some hand-to-hand combat.

What I mean by that is you’ve got to engage, and you’ve got to start a conversation, and you’ve got to find where they’re at. You like their profile, and when they say certain buzzwords that might be attributed that might kind of impact things that you know about, I find ways to compliment and ask questions because they’re with them or whatever, what they’re looking for, too.

And so they might be a target for me, but they’re also looking for someone to stir the pot on their own content. Now, here’s this other trick or hack that I do. And so this is the bonus material. I believe that if I can get someone’s mobile phone number, and I have a decent relationship with them, here’s what I do.

That’s very unique. I find whatever platform they’re on and comment on a platform that was not native to the content. So usually a text message, that’s the one for me. I wait for somebody to put something on LinkedIn that they’re really proud of. What I do is if I have their mobile phone number, I take a screen grab.

And I text them and I say, “This was really cool.” And then I ask a question, like, “Do you ever run into this or that or something like that?” What I find is that if I change the location of where the comment was posted, it starts a conversation. If I engage at the platform that they use to basically create the content, they view me as a fan.

If they see me doing it through text message, they view me either as a friend or someone to talk to. So I know this sounds really weird, but this has just worked for me is finding the really great comment, choosing the engagement on a different platform. But honor them by taking a screen grab so that you know that you’ve actually read their content or seen their content or something like that.

It’s just a hack that I do, and it’s so bizarre, but it actually works.

Mike Allton: That’s a fantastic tactic. You’re drawing on several different psychological principles that I love. And your overall strategy was really interesting. Thank you for sharing that about going on social media, trying to get those conversations started with individuals so that you can work with them.

That’s why we added a HubSpot integration to Agorapulse. So you can be in Agorapulse, you can be in the inbox, you can see those conversations. You can see if they’re already in HubSpot or not. If they’re not, you can add them. Then you can enrich that data, find their cell phone number. They don’t necessarily have to give it to you straight up.

Chris Carr: Yeah. I don’t like to text someone without their permission to text them. I do a lot of hand-to-hand combat. And so I know there’s a lot of platforms that text spam, but do launch to multiple different email addresses. I still have gotten the best bang for the buck by doing it one by one by one. That’s my industry. I carve out sacred time for when I text, how I text, and stuff like that. And I keep an interesting library of what people are interested in.

Mike Allton: Thanks so much for listening! Don’t forget to find us, like us and give us a review on Apple podcasts, the Social Pulse Podcast: Agency Edition.


How Agencies Can Survive and Thrive in an AI-Crazy World