Social media marketing is a must for pizzerias, but finding a qualified person to manage multiple platforms can be a big pain in the neck. Where’s the algorithm for that? Younger power users might have mastered the platforms, but do they know and understand marketing and brand messaging?

That’s the sticky part. But executives at Cicis Pizza, the Texas-based pizza buffet, carryout and delivery chain with 277 locations around the U.S., believe “anything is pizzable”—that’s what it says on their website, anyway.

The company is currently spearheading a groundbreaking initiative that, in effect, leverages AI as a social media intern. Starting earlier this month, Cicis has been employing AI algorithms to create its social media posts, including graphics and captions, across all platforms. The initiative began on July 17 with a post on Instagram. The graphic depicted an AI-generated robot bearing pizzas with a simple caption: “Meet our AI intern slicing up pizza posts this month at Cicis!” The post included a trio of hashtags: #CicisAITakeover, #MadeByAI and #AI.

Related: Can ChatGPT dream up your next top-selling pizza?

This photo shows the first AI-generated post for Cicis Pizza, depicting a robot holding up two pizzas against a red backdrop.

As expected with AI-generated art, the graphics lean a bit towards the surreal, such as a July 19 post featuring a heavily muscled football player leaping above a crowd of fans, mouth open wide to bite into a pizza—even though he’s still wearing his helmet. A couple of fans sport caveman-like eyebrows, but is that really so off-base?

PMQ asked Stephanie Hoppe, Cicis’ chief marketing officer, to fill us in on this innovative—and high-tech—marketing approach. Here’s what she told us:

PMQ: Which AI tools are you using? We assume you’re using one tool for the graphics and a different one for the text? How did you select the tools?

Stephanie Hoppe: The visuals were created in Midjourney with an assist from the new Photoshop Beta. The copy was crafted in ChatGPT-4. The team has played around with various tools but found Midjourney and ChatGPT to be the most robust and user-friendly.

This is a screenshot of another AI-generated post showing a football player in a red uniform with white numbers leaping above a crowd of men in a stadium, sort of holding a pizza in his hands with his mouth wide open for a bite.

PMQ: How did this idea to use AI for social media come about?

Hoppe: Our creative agency, 3Headed Monster (3HM), has a passion for building “tomorrow brands,” and after discovering how generative AI could be a powerful tool for creativity, they pitched the idea, and we loved it. We’re always willing to try new ideas if they bring joy to our consumers, and this seemed too fun to pass up.

PMQ: What kind of fine-tuning was required to get the results that you were looking for? How complex has the process been?

Hoppe: The speed of iterating on an idea was incredible. Rounds that could take days or weeks could be tweaked in hours. Midjourney can get a bit unwieldy at times, but 3HM has made great strides in how they prompted the AI for more consistent results. ChatGPT always starts out a bit wordy but takes feedback well.

Related: This pizza chain has started using AI to take phone orders

PMQ: What different types of posts will these AI tools create?

Hoppe: We’re starting simple, with static images and copy, perfect for Instagram. The team has been playing around with AI voice and video tools, but those aren’t quite ready for primetime yet.

This is a screenshot of another AI-generated post, showing a gigantic pizza - the Piezilla - tumbling over the side of a skyscraper.

PMQ: How will you ensure that the posts will resonate with your audience and reflect the Cicis brand’s personality?

Hoppe: From our 4” tall brand mascot, C.C. Pazzini, to our 8mm B-movie trailer for Piezilla on TikTok, Cicis has always embraced the internet culture and wild, even weird, ideas—and our consumers have been onboard so far!

PMQ: Is this strictly a test for the next month? If so, what’s the long-term plan and goal for using AI as a “social media intern”?

Hoppe: AI is in its buzzy honeymoon phase right now, and it’s a great tool. But that’s what it is, a tool, and it still requires creative ideas and input. So, in that regard, we’ll likely find ourselves tapping into this and other emerging technologies moving forward, but this “intern” isn’t taking anyone’s job anytime soon!