The chatter about ChatGPT in marketing and content doesn’t slow down. Generative AI and content creation have garnered attention as one of the most disruptive technologies since the advent of social media.
Passionate debates go around the benefits, threats, and abuses that AI-created content provides to marketing departments. But a more common thought I hear lately is that not today but soon, ChatGPT (or something like it) will reproduce “our voice” and create content every bit as well as you can.
This consideration comes not from the concern that artificial intelligence is blunt force “copying” work and spitting it out in some creative proprietary violation (though that fear exists). Quite the opposite, this idea seems rooted in the idea that the sophisticated technology will evolve its learning model into something capable of “speaking in the style of me” – as a person or a brand.
Depending on your point of view, that idea might be a very good thing or a very bad thing.
Research assistant or a better version of you?
Let’s say you’re in charge of content and marketing for a big brand and want to create original media in the style and voice the brand has employed for years. You set the AI’s learning model to analyze the 30,000 documents in your content management system so AI can start producing new content just like what you’ve been publishing.
Now, before you @ me with “LOL, have you ever seen our content? You’re kidding yourself. If you expect a common style or tone from our stuff,” know that I’m with you. Finding a common voice itself is a tall order. But stay with me for a minute because this goes to the source of the fear that the AI can outdo you.
One prominent author shared that ChatGPT’s learning model grasped their voice in the resulting text after the prompt asked it to write “in the style of (author’s name).” This author didn’t feel threatened, saying the AI result was on par with what a good research assistant might provide but nothing they would send to the world.
But another author I spoke with said the opposite. He feels the technology might improve to the point where the AI-created content is indistinguishable from theirs. He worries about a day when they might be rendered useless because the AI could get his “thinking” without his involvement.
My take: Don’t worry. But assume that day AI can translate voice and style is already here.
Only you can be today’s you
In the book Happy Birthday To You!, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) wrote something you can learn to change your content creation strategy and (perhaps) assuage your fear of being replaced by AI. It all starts with how important you are today.
In the middle of the book, Seuss writes:
Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Note the use of the word “today.” As Seuss says elsewhere in the book, “Today is your birthday,” and “if we didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you.”
Focusing on where you are today and creating content for tomorrow is where you can connect your differentiator as a human content creator to a machine that can never replace you.
Let me explain. While people assume businesses of all sizes have a content strategy, most usually don’t. They may have marketing departments with team members responsible for content. Some of those may have gone the extra step and put in standard guidelines for tone, voice, keywords, etc. Some even have (ugh) service-level agreements with their business on the quantity of content they will create. These things do NOT a content strategy make.
Few have established a real, functioning content strategy – a repeatable and consistent process for how content should be translated from ideas to creation, production, and publishing.
Marketing departments without a real strategy point to all the existing content they’ve created and say, “See, we’ve produced a ton of content.” But they cannot tell at any moment why or which ideas will be prioritized (or are even important) that will become content in the future. They cannot know how those ideas should be expressed as experiences or when they will be written down. In other words, these businesses only understand what the company has said – they lack any insight into what it is going to say. At best, they point to their existing repository and say, “We’ll produce more of like what we’ve already produced.”
That limiting view is the reason that AI looks scary. Why? Because AI can already produce more content that matches what you already produced.
Those who do not fear AI’s impact on content marketing do more than identify the responsibilities of marketing and content creators. They build processes that elevate planning, prioritization, collaboration, and creativity in the business strategy. Every content marketing strategy needs a planning and prioritization step – determining what the teams will be tasked to create – if only so the team can pivot and materially change direction into some new style, tone, topic, or creative direction.
AI cannot out-create your best creator, nor can AI out-you you. Because only today’s you can change tomorrow’s you. As Seuss puts it so perfectly when talking about the importance of you on this day:
Or worse than all of that … Why, you might be a WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you … You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant.
AI is a Wasn’t. It’s a reflection of what is. It’s not present. It’s not the future. Your and your content’s existence are the only things that can fuel artificial intelligence to produce more like you or your brand. That’s occasionally useful, but it’s not what makes you so. You are useful because you are you. Today.
It’s your story. Tell it well.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute