Is generative AI coming for your content marketing practice?
- By Ezekiel Rudick - Jan 18, 2023 Content Experience
ChatGPT, generative AI—everyone’s talking about it.
Are the robots coming for our jobs?
Is content marketing irrelevant?
Is this finally the death of copywriting as we know it?
These narratives are not new. Whenever a new technology emerges that shifts a paradigm, people show up with all sorts of anxieties about the future. The tech thought leaders start to proclaim the early deaths of the preceding technologies and best practices.
When I was a journalism student, my professors—all newspaper veterans—were shouting from the rooftops that social media journalism would be the death of newspapers, and journalism as a practice.
15 years later, journalism is alive and well. It just looks a little different, but it’s here. Newspapers are still being published—digital, print, microblogs, algorithm-based news feeds, and everything in between.
I have used my Journalism 101 training nearly every day of my career in content strategy and creative brand marketing—from media pitching to writing headlines to weaving design-heavy storytelling into content marketing projects.
The outpouring of Web 2.0 innovations, believe it or not, did not make me irrelevant. Quite the opposite. I was able to thrive in my career because it allowed me to do creative work for any brand from virtually anywhere in the world.
Now in 2023, we’re in the middle of another anxiety-tinged revolution for content marketers: automating content creation.
How did we get here?
Two major things shifted in marketing.
The first? Any digital thing that anyone created, and I mean EVERYONE, was tossed into this catch-all bucket called ‘content.’
Music, movies, ads, novels, and art projects. It all became digital content. So, when brands caught onto the idea that you could generate demand, build community, and ultimately grow revenue and earn more market share by using data-driven storytelling as the vehicle, everyone wanted in.
We heard phrases like ‘content is king’ that soon became overused to the point of cliché. Though this sentiment was always true, the transition many brands made to become purveyors of digital content turned us all into content obsessives.
We started to become players in the attention economy. In other words, modern brands were forced to answer two complicated questions:
What are the levers a brand needs to pull to get the most attention?
How do we turn that attention into business impact?
This is the thesis statement of content marketing, which brings me to the second marketing shift.
Content marketing made every brand want to become a media company. It started as a niche practice and then became essential for everyone—from influencers to SaaS startups to global Fortune 100 brands. As the content marketing practice expanded and proliferated across the globe, we created an inconceivable amount of content.
To put this into perspective, there are roughly 197 million websites actively generating content every day across the globe. These are brands, personalities, and businesses all vying for your attention with blog posts, videos, ads, email campaigns, and social media posts to ensure they are generating enough demand to fuel business growth.
In short, the demand to…um…generate demand became high stakes across marketing teams. Brands started to prioritize rapid-fire content creation, and doing so through a plethora of MarTech solutions that promised to help solve the content production conundrum. And it is a conundrum that most creative content teams face.
According to a survey by InMotionNow, a growing creative operations platform, there are 4 huge issues related to content production:
- Speed. Stakeholders often don’t know what it takes to make something great, and these stakeholders often need something quickly. So, keeping up with the rate of demand for in-market creative content is incredibly taxing.
- Volume. Not only are creatives expected to show up with content at breakneck speed, but they are also expected to create A LOT of it, and it must be good.
- Strategy. Creatives need to be seen as strategic partners within a business. This means translating business problems into creative solutions through messaging, content, and design thinking.
- Channel variety. Content creation needs to address a wide range of channels to be effective.
Translation: Creative content teams need to create a ton of strategic content exceptionally fast, and for a lot of different channels.
Does that sound like a tall order?
So, what does this all have to do with ChatGPT and our generative AI moment?
The ‘thought leadership’ content keeps showing up. Marketers are experimenting (as they must) by letting generative AI tools write content for them. And some of it isn’t half bad, which is terrifying.
As a career copywriter, I’ve gotten that feedback from creative directors on my copy. “This isn’t half bad.” So, if robots are writing content that is OK, or even pretty good, that makes content marketers and creatives feel a little uneasy about the future of their industry.
But here’s the thing about generative AI, you still need to feed it good ideas, and you still need to understand your brand, your customers, and your business problems to show up with creative that truly resonates.
I put this to the test by asking ChatGPT to write a LinkedIn ad about ‘The future of content experience.’ Here’s how that went:
This is a very basic interaction. I asked for a simple LinkedIn ad. I technically received some copy that talked about the content experience, and how AI would impact the future of content. I did some basic coaching and got a little closer. I made a personalized request to see how it would handle the Siteimprove brand from an ad standpoint.
While I would never use any of this copy to convince the Siteimprove audience of our product’s effectiveness, it gave me ideas to explore and things to think about.
I am not going to fire any creatives over this. I’m going to tell them to experiment and use this as an ideation mechanism for creating content. They will still need to analyze those ideas through the lens of our brand. They will still need to have copywriting chops to turn concepts into magical copy that engages and delights your audience.
In my estimation, when it comes to generative AI and content marketers, you need to replace your fear of the unknown with a sense of curiosity and experimentation.
Or in the words of the great content marketer, Taylor Swift, “I think being fearless means having fears, but jumping anyway.”
So, let’s jump.