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The One About ChatGPT: AI-Driven Content and its Place in Content Marketing

Yeah, yeah, y’all probably knew this one was coming. You’ve probably already seen a billion thinkpieces either loving or hating ChatGPT — the AI-based tool that uses natural language processing to churn out everything from breakup letters to entire HTML websites. 

We’ve been asked by plenty of clients 1) what we think about it and 2) if we fear for our livelihoods. 

My answers are 1) it’s meh and 2) not a bit. 

I’ve been writing professionally for almost a decade now. Technology comes and goes. What never falters, however, is the need for human creativity and innovative thinking. 

ChatGPT can do a lot for you, but it can’t do the one thing that makes us human — think on its own. 

How ChatGPT Works

ChatGPT is an open source AI software that uses machine learning to create content and respond to questions. Basically, the more people use it, the smarter it gets and the better its answers will be. 

But you don’t care how it works! You just want to know if it’s good enough to do your job for you! 

Well, if you’re cool with your branding sounding bland or using a tone that isn’t memorable, sure. Think of a ChatGPT essay like the kid who only ever read Sparknotes in any English class. (And if that’s you and I’m hitting a sore spot, sorry.) The answers given to you are rudimentary and only exist because someone else has already written the answer. There’s no creativity behind the responses. There are no novel insights that could benefit readers. There’s nothing beyond what ChatGPT could scrape together from existing essays. It’s that kid who didn’t bother reading The Great Gatsby,  used Sparknotes instead, and couldn’t tell you their favorite lines, but they could give you the basics about the plot. 

ChatGPT’s content creation is limited, something the service itself acknowledges on the home page. The AI scrapes together content to summarize and “create” new content based on existing work. However, the current limitations are that ChatGPT’s AI stops at 2021. There’s over 2 years not accounted for by the AI. And if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN THE SPAN OF 2 YEARS. 

What is ChatGPT Good For?

Like any AI-based software, there are plenty of uses for ChatGPT. Here are some great ways to use the service without compromising the quality of your brand: 

  • Asking it for marketing ideas whenever the well runs dry
  • Spitballing refreshed messaging when you’re tired of saying the same sales pitch
  • Creating fun taglines for new products if you’re struggling to get started
  • Writing email responses for you whenever you don’t know how to email someone back
  • Outlining a piece of content or suggesting a structure for long-form content 
  • Figuring out how to talk to your Gen Z coworkers about memes and TikTok 

ChatGPT’s Limitations (Especially When it Comes to Content)

As I just mentioned, ChatGPT is great for helping kickstart your train of thought! Here’s what ChatGPT is not great for:  

  • It’s not good at putting pen to paper. We’ve played around plenty with ChatGPT in writing short stories and poems. (Heck, I even had ChatGPT try to write wedding vows as a joke!) The structure of the content was alright. Certain poems like limericks came a little easier for the AI, as it had to fit an existing framework. For most content marketing pieces, however, ChatGPT uses what’s called the 5 paragraph essay structure. You’re probably familiar with it! Intro paragraph, 3 points, closing paragraph. Badabing, badaboom. There’s one problem, however. Educators, content marketers, and even Google’s algorithm are killing the 5 paragraph essay. We always say that a piece of content is as long as it needs to be. It should leave a reader feeling fulfilled. That can be in 3 paragraphs, 5 paragraphs, 10 paragraphs, even more. ChatGPT doesn’t understand this concept and will give you rote 5 paragraph essays for nearly all content pieces you have it write (unless otherwise specified). 
  • It lacks SEO/keyword optimization. If you know the power of SEO on a website, you’ll know why this is a problem. You can tell ChatGPT to optimize content around certain terms, but it will either over or under optimize. All it knows is that it needs to include your keyword. It won’t ensure that optimization is natural, nor will it worry about the number of times that word is found. 
  • ChatGPT won’t naturally include research. If you want to incorporate relevant research for your readers, you’ll either have to apply internal research methods or use the ol’ Google Search to find valid, applicable data to bolster your points. (And don’t forget to cite your sources!)
  • ChatGPT doesn’t know your audience. You can tell the AI who to write for, but at the end of the day, no one knows your target demographic better than you. (Or at least a faceless entity shouldn’t  know your target audience better than you… If that’s the case, please talk to your human customers some…) 
  • Unless asked to have a unique voice, ChatGPT will write in a bland tone. A writer I follow on Twitter summed up the ChatGPT/writer debate pretty easily: you’ll know it ‘s ChatGPT content as soon as you read it. Good writing will have hallmarks to its voice, style, and tone. ChatGPT lacks that. You can ask it to write in the style of someone else, sure, but even then it won’t quite feel human. The frustrating truth for some people, however, is that it’s easy for businesses to not care about good writing. (After all, businesses have scraped entire websites rather than create something new because they don’t think people will notice.) I can tell you until I’m blue in the face that good writing is what your customers and target audience deserve, but if you don’t fundamentally value the power of language, I can’t change your mind. 

Yes, You Still Need Marketing Even with ChatGPT (and Any Other AI-Based Service)

Remember when Grammarly was going to put copy editors out of business? Or when chatbots would kill the customer service industry? Or when video marketing would make content marketing dead?!

The media loves to scream that a novel technology will kill off entire industries, but (at least in the realm of marketing) that hasn’t been the case. The tools I just mentioned were once massively popular, and LinkedIn was flooded with thinkpieces swearing these tools would take out jobs. ChatGPT’s discourse doesn’t feel like anything new, but since content services are some of our bread & butter, I’d be remiss to not write about it. 

ChatGPT is free, but it’s not a free writer. It’s a great tool to give your marketing a head start. Humans will always be the ones to get it to the finish line, however. If you’re struggling with content marketing, social, marketing strategy, web design, or not knowing where to get started with any of it, give us a call or fill out the handy form below! We’ll give you non-AI generated help that’s customized to meet your needs and your audience.