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Mandy York

By Mandy York

Sep 11, 2023

Topics:

Inbound Marketing Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence
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Inbound Marketing  |   Content Marketing  |   Artificial Intelligence

How to Humanize Your Content While Using AI

Mandy York

By Mandy York

Sep 11, 2023

We hear this all the time: Keep your content human, even if you’re using AI. But people are never very specific when it comes to how. 

For all the potential AI brings, it comes with an equal number of concerning drawbacks. If you’re using AI to help produce content for your brand, you need to be concerned about plagiarism, duplicate content, and unverified facts that can damage your brand and destroy your trustworthiness.

But that shouldn’t keep you from experimenting and using AI to get you through tasks on your to-do list.

Below, I’ll explain how I keep the human in my AI-generated work — along with the advice I give to clients on how they can do the same. 

First off, remember the why behind your content

Before you create anything, remind yourself of why you’re doing this in the first place. I tell my clients all the time: Your content exists to help you build trust with your audience

AI can certainly help you produce content faster, but if it’s not content that accomplishes this core goal, it’s not going to help your business. 

purpose-of-content

So, we need to put in place a checklist of sorts to make sure anything we generate stays true to our purpose:

  • Will this provide value to our audience?
  • Will it build trust?
  • Does this sound like me/us?
  • Have we verified everything in it?
  • Can we stand behind it?

Everything you publish needs to check all these boxes. The question is how. 

Pick a good tool, write a good prompt

Trustworthy content starts when you pick the right tool, train it on your brand voice, and write the best prompt.

Like anything else, the quality of the output depends on the quality of the input.

Personally, I use ChatGPT, but many people I know swear by Jasper, Writer, or another tool. (As we all know, there’s no shortage of tools.)

how-to-use-AI

To get what you want, you need to work with the tool. Jasper has a brand voice section. ChatGPT has custom instructions you can put in about tone and personality. Don’t skip these steps. The more training you do, the better the output. Think about where you’ve been, why you’re special now, and where you are going in the future. The more detail you can provide, the better. 

And be clear about the output you want. Not just tone and style, but structure. If you need a chart, ask for a chart. If you need an article with clear H2s, ask for it. If you’re unsatisfied, ask again more specifically.

AI’s output is just the beginning

What you get from AI is never a finished product. It’s now up to you to add all the things that make your content feel authentic. Turning an AI-generated draft to a polished, final piece is where the real work is. 

Here’s what I do:

  1. Scrutinize the syntax. AI, while incredibly powerful, often falls into the trap of using the same recognizable phrases. It can vary, but I’m always on the lookout for phrases like "From X to Y" or "as a _______, I am here to tell you...". These become glaringly obvious once you know what to look for. These phrase patterns can make your content feel impersonal and stale. Find and replace them with more natural on-brand expressions. (But remember, you can’t make something sound like your brand if your brand doesn’t have a style and personality.)
    AI-accuracy
  2. Refine the Structure and Semantics: I use the Yoast plugin, which can be a content writer's best friend. It highlights missing transitions and extra-long sentences, helping you make the writing more smooth and user-friendly. I also always run my writing (AI or otherwise) through Hemingway. This will help ensure you’re not unintentionally talking right over the heads of those you are trying to reach. 

    (As a matter of fact, did you know that the average reading level in the United States is around 7th grade? It’s totally possible to write an article about quantum physics at a 5th-grade level, or an article about the color red at a 12th-grade level — but gut-checking your writing either way is important.)
  3. Fact-Check what’s been written: AI models might not always be up-to-date with the latest trends or realities. For example, I recently asked AI to estimate the cost of a wedding photographer, and it came back with a range of $1500-$3000, which is way below the current market. It's your responsibility to make sure anything you publish is accurate, so this is not a step to skip. 
  4. Personalize the final draft: Add industry jokes, quotes from colleagues, or any personal touches that make the content uniquely yours. Meld the AI and your unique brand to build something that’s truly yours — not the same as what anyone else has who typed the same prompt. 
  5. Optimize for SEO: Although I’ve put this last, it should be on your mind throughout the whole editing process. Keyword and intent research, tweaking headers, and adjusting wording to hit SEO goals ensures that your content is discoverable. AI plugins such as AISEO are great for helping out with this and ensuring that you begin with a good baseline.

AI-writer-assistant

Don’t think of AI as a writer. Think of it as a writer's assistant. It’s not going to produce your final content, but it can get you started — and this will help you get to the finish line that much quicker. 

Remember, AI is only a tool

If you were a carpenter in the olden days using a handsaw, a power saw would triple your productivity. But a power saw will not build a house on its own. You need a blueprint. You need a strategy. 

I tell my clients the same.

Treat AI like a very powerful tool. Don’t expect it to solve every problem you face. 

As such, I ask my clients to keep the same precepts in mind when they use generative AI:

  • Think of it like adding an intern. It’s going to do some of the grunt work. It may even get certain projects 75% of the way there, but that last 25% is where the magic happens. You would never have someone brand new to your business speak on behalf of the CEO — and that’s really what your written content is doing for your business. 
  • Don’t ask AI to write anything that counts as a cornerstone of your business. Your web copy, service pages — all of those things are so nuanced that you’re better off starting from scratch. But if you’re stuck, AI can help. It can spit out 20 different versions of that headline. It can comb through your text and see if there are any gaps. Just keep in mind what it can’t do. 
  • Always seek a balance between efficiency and inauthenticity — and this goes beyond written work. AI can supercharge your efficiency, but it can easily go too far. You might end up with content that’s interchangeable with 10 of your competitors. Or, you might be tempted by digital avatars or deepfakes in video, but the potential damage to your brand is too great. 

When in doubt, don’t. If something feels icky or too slick, it’s not worth it. Keep your core principles in mind and remember why you’re producing content in the first place. Everything should be in the interest of building trust with your audience. With AI, it’s easy to overshoot your goal and do more harm than good.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can leverage AI in a way that’s ethical, complementary, and delivers results, talk to us! We help businesses just like yours find the solutions they’ve been looking for.

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