Updated: Mar 27
ChatGPT. It's been making waves in the digital marketing world for several weeks, and everyone seems to have an opinion about it (yes, including me).
So what's all the fuss about? Well, it turns out that AI writing tools aren't as straightforward as some business owners would like to believe.
In this post, I'll discuss the battleground between human and AI-written content before highlighting three main ways AI tools can help writers and digital marketers.
What is an AI writing tool?
An AI (artificial intelligence) writing tool (or assistant) is a piece of software that generates written content based on human input. AI tools use human input to inform what they produce, and over time the content they produce becomes more human-like. Essentially, it's a quick way of generating content en masse.
So what are the issues associated with it?
The battleground: AI vs human-written content
In this debate, people seem to be falling into two camps. On the one hand, some believe it's a positive addition to marketing and sales, while others suggest marketers should avoid it like the plague due to legal risks.
I'm somewhere in the middle. I believe that like social media over a decade ago, AI won't be going away any time soon. On the other hand, I firmly believe that (like any marketing and sales strategy) you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket.
What do I mean by this? AI has its uses in marketing and sales, such as chatbots, but it shouldn't be relied on entirely. It should become part of a larger inbound marketing strategy, another piece in the machine.
Maybe I'm a little biased; after all, my job is to write content for businesses. Many businesses might be thinking, "What's the point of hiring a content writer to write a blog post when I can get an AI tool to write it in seconds for much, much cheaper?".
But every hack has its risks. AI is no exception. It's well-documented that ChatGPT can create content that includes misinformation. For example, this Business Insider article highlighted that ChatGPT produced fake quotes from a CEO in its generated article.
In a world where we are more aware of misinformation on the internet, another source could be dangerous. Some marketers may blindly copy AI-generated content and put it on a blog or website without checking for errors, legalities (such as copyright infringements and plagiarism) or misinformation. These issues can easily be resolved by a human content writer.
The other issue I have seen cropping up is the conflict with Google's search engine algorithms. SEO experts all know the challenges significant Google algorithm updates can cause. The latest update (Autumn 2022) has added experience to their E-A-T acronym to become E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust).
Why is this an issue? Neil Patel addresses this perfectly in his article about the 2022 update:
When you integrate your own personal learnings and show your experience within your content it stands out. That’s what is hard to replicate using AI… or at least for now.
Experience now matters in SEO, and it can only be shown if a human writes the piece of content - something a piece of software cannot do currently.
So far, I've covered some of the negatives of using AI. Many readers might be thinking they wouldn't want to touch AI with a ten-foot barge pole. But I don't think AI is going anywhere. The technology will only improve and overcome the issues I've highlighted above. And, like social media not so long ago, we will need to learn to work alongside it. Here are my thoughts on how we can do just that.
3 ways writers can work with AI going forward
1. A resource of ideas
At some point in their career, every writer struggles with writer's block. In such cases, you can do things to overcome writer's block, but you could also use AI as a workaround.
AI writing tools produce written content based on input, so you can easily plug in a keyword to create a bank of relevant content. So, if you're a writer or a marketer struggling for ideas, you can use AI writing tools to generate ideas en masse to work from.
2. Boosting efficiency
Have you thought about how AI can boost your efficiency in creating content? AI can be used to create outlines for your blog posts, brainstorm topic clusters and batches of blog posts, and can also help you generate keywords for your keyword research!
(For more on how AI can help with writing efficiency, check out Elna Cain's post.) Being a resource of ideas, this will help writers boost their content creation efficiency. Whereas previously it might have taken a week to produce a blog post (from planning and research to publication), now it could be done in a couple of days. AI takes the stress away from planning and research and helps writers get on with what they love: writing!
3. ESL benefits
There is a subset of content writers for whom English is not their primary language. Rather, it is their second, third, or even fourth. Writers with ESL (English as a second language) are - in my opinion - underrated. I know many businesses in the Anglosphere may sniff at the idea of hiring someone for whom English is not their primary language.
But, that doesn't make them bad writers. On the contrary, I've come across many ESL writers who write in better English than many native English speakers! Freelance content writers and copywriters, no matter their background, can write well online which is the crucial skill required for all businesses (big or small) to succeed.
The question is how to get there. AI may provide the answer for newbie ESL freelance writers. It can be used as a tool to improve English, discover new ways of writing content, and much more.
Conclusion: AI is here to stay. Like social media a decade ago, I believe it will become a part of digital marketing. As writers, we should use AI to our advantage, not hide from it.
Yes, there are issues (such as plagiarism, SEO, etc.), but these won't become an issue if you use AI as a tool to help your writing rather than to replace it.
What do you think about AI tools like ChatGPT? Are you hesitant to take the risk, or wholeheartedly accepting of the change? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment!