A Content Marketer’s Guide to ChatGPT and AI-generated Content
By Mandy York
The marketing world has been buzzing about the implications of ChatGPT and other AI-generated content. These tools can produce original text using machine learning — and can do so quickly and often free of charge.
The impact will no doubt be vast and wide. There is already news of AI-written screenplays and short stories, and the technology is developing at a breakneck pace.
So, what does this mean for content marketers and blog writers? Can AI really replace human-generated content? Or, is this just another tool to be wielded by savvy content writers?
Let’s cut through the noise and the hype to really understand what we’re dealing with.
What is ChatGPT and how does it work?
ChatGPT is a free tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to generate conversational text responses to questions that you ask it. Answers can be long or short, covering anything you want to know about.
Once you’ve gotten an answer to a question from ChatGPT, you can ask it to amend, reword, reorganize, or even rewrite the same information in a different language style. The more detailed your input, the more accurate the output.
ChatGPT was developed through OpenAI, a company funded by powerful Silicon Valley backers. OpenAI includes several other tools that focus on furthering the research and development of AI products for the overall benefit of humanity, according to its mission statement.
So what does it look like? Like this: A gray screen with a question box and an eager splattering of text that answers whatever you type.
It’s sleek, fast, and a little scary.
How ‘intelligent’ is ChatGPT?
You can ask ChatGPT just about anything — and it can be fascinating to see what information it spits out. Want to know why the mantis shrimp can see millions of colors humans don’t even know exist, or what the purpose of gluten is?
You ask your question and ChatGPT answers.
(By the way, gluten binds particles together in grain products. Think of how dough is thrown when making a pizza. Without gluten it would rip apart. )
As a marketer, your natural question is likely can ChatGPT write your blog articles for you?
The short answer is, well, sort of.
Let’s consider an example to start.
Say you're a self-employed florist. You want to start doing more weddings, and you want to get found online by more engaged couples, wedding planners, and event spaces. To do so, you decide to create content to go after a few specific keywords.
You go to ChatGPT and input the command “Write a lengthy blog article about wedding flower arrangements.” Out pops a fully-fledged article that you could theoretically cut and paste into your hosting platform and publish.
(Note: If you put the same question again, you’ll get another answer with the same information, but phrased slightly differently.)
Because ChatGPT has such an extensive knowledge base to pull from, which includes basically all information available on the internet up until 2021, it can quickly and efficiently locate and categorize information that would otherwise take hours or days to find on your own. In ways, this makes it a potential bridge between current expertise and the things you don’t even realize you don’t know yet.
It’s fully understandable then, that the chance to have an AI write our articles for us is an enticing prospect.
However, ChatGPT does come with a certain set of limitations that can be worrisome, so I wouldn’t bet your flower shop on its abilities just yet.
What are the limitations of ChatGPT?
Like any tool, ChatGPT has limitations, which have even been confirmed by OpenAi CEO Sam Altman.
Namely, these six known issues pertain to ethical writing and curation of content. For many, they’ll be deal breakers, but for everyone, they should at least give you a long pause before you start experimenting.
(It’s worth noting that this AI is evolving very quickly, with new releases dropping to the code every few weeks. These limitations will likely morph over time.)
1. Knowledge is limited to 2021
If you ask ChatGPT to write a current article, say, about marketing trends of 2023, it will write the article with the correct date, but with limited, or even inaccurate, knowledge.
When I tested this the article returned was heavy on information pertaining to COVID-19 lockdowns. As far as the AI knows, we’re stuck back in the heart of the pandemic.
Further, ChatGPT won’t know current news, headlines, or laws that have been passed, which will severely limit what this tool is capable of providing in an ever-changing world.
2. It was programmed to be neutral
If you ask ChatGPT to write an article condemning a certain topic, it will return factual information — but with a neutral or even slightly positive bias.
When I asked it about global warming, it spit out lots of information and statistics related to the issue, but at no point was I able to get it to actually say that global warming was a bad thing. Rather, the ending of the article provided was very upbeat and hopeful, and while you may want to spin your content that way, there are times when you may want to take a different stance.
Chances are, your company has a unique voice that matches the “style” of your brand (think: authoritative, playful, or sincere). ChatGPT will struggle to match your style and, of course, will not be able to capture your particular points of view.
3. It is unable to provide sources
If you’re involved in professional writing, chances are that you want to link and source your information within your articles. ChatGPT pulls information from many sources, but doesn’t tell you where it pulls it from.
Let’s say you’re asking it about the mantis shrimp that I mentioned above. Fascinating things, really.
ChatGPT tells you that the mantis shrimp has extra rods and cones in its eyes, which allow it to mix more than red, yellow, and blue — therefore giving it access to colors that exist all around us but we as humans are unable to perceive.
It could’ve pulled that information from a number of places, and one of them is the cute but questionable The Oatmeal comic.
While this example is basically harmless, stop and think about all the incorrect and downright vile things you’ve read online.
What’s the chance you pulled nutritionally incorrect information from ChatGPT and a diabetic is reading your article? What if you’re in the compliance industry and you’re quoting a law that wasn’t written how ChatGPT told you it was?
Unless you’re doing a deep dive on each sentence that comes out of it, you’re taking a huge risk having information collected and compiled in this way.
4. It is not truly able to fact-check itself
ChatGPT was designed to weigh information very similar to how Google weighs information — meaning that the more reputable or prolific the source, the more “truth” it assigns to it.
This means that the tool usually pulls factual information (more on that in a moment), but even the programmers themselves state that it isn’t foolproof.
It is known to provide factually inaccurate information and even harmful instructions sometimes.
5. ChatGPT doesn’t have opinions
This seems obvious, based on what I said before, but bear with me.
If you’ve worked in marketing for any length of time, you know the importance of generating content that includes opinions.
Comparisons of two products. Explanations of why one solution is better than another. Reviews of a particular service.
All of these are things ChatGPT can’t actually create because it can’t think freely. It can synthesize the opinions of others, but it can’t express opinions of its own.
6. It’s trackable
All AI models have certain characteristics in their language and programming that help identify to search engines that the content is AI-generated. This practice is currently known as cryptographic watermarking.
This means that AI-generated content will almost certainly be devalued in search engine rankings.
Already, we’re seeing a sort of arms race, with tools being developed to identify AI content, even as the content gets more and more human-like.
What does all this mean for content marketers?
So, are robots going to totally replace you and take over the content marketing world? Should you throw in the towel now?
In its current state, there are several reasons why ChatGPT and other open-source AI content generation platforms are unable to replace high-quality human-generated content.
But it can replace ho-hum, average content that's the same as a thousand other articles on the internet.
Think of AI as a tool that can help you do your job better
I do believe that we should embrace technology in all forms as it allows us to up our quality and efficiency. In the same way that we utilize tools like Grammarly and Hemingway, so too can we use Chat GPT.
A couple of options for you to consider:
Use it to generate your article outlines
Simply type in “Write an article outline about the different manufacturing processes for acrylic paint” and you’ll be met with a skeleton you can use to help organize your thoughts and refresh your brain with what is essentially an outside perspective.
Use it to help you paraphrase yourself
Ever find yourself in a bout of writer's block and just can't remember the word you’re looking for?
Ask ChatGPT how it would write an article about that specific topic. You can then weave your thoughts with the ideas that ChatGPT brings to the table.
Use it to fix your code
One of the most fascinating things I found in my attempts to break ChatGPT was its ability to identify code.
If you’re deep into formatting a post and want to embed a photo or video but the embed code isn’t working, just drop it in ChatGPT and it will pop out an error list of specific code issues it finds.
Use it to help you generate blog article ideas
Try typing in “What are the top 10 most commonly asked questions about X” and you’ve got a starting list ready to go.
Content marketing in the age of AI
Ultimately, while ChatGPT is groundbreaking — it’s important to remember that there are lots of kinks still being worked out of the system and that it’s your job as a content marketer and writer to utilize the tool in a helpful way.
Remember, no matter what tools or tech get developed, marketing is about principles: it’s about educating your customers and building trust in your industry.
People value ethical, unbiased writing. They crave human interaction and the ability to react, formulate new opinions and consider theoretical outcomes in everyday life are innately human. In the meantime, go in and play around with ChatGPT and see how you can make it work for you in an ethically sound and practical way.
We will continue to watch this as it evolves and update as needed.
And if you’re ever unsure about the types of content that will actually move the needle for your company, join us for a free consulting session with one of our expert (human) coaches.
Wondering where to begin?