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How to unlock the power of AI for content creation, without compromising on quality

AI isn’t so much “coming” as “here”, and here to stay. While some copywriters might be panicking that they’ll be out of a job by the end of the year, we have a much more positive outlook.

Get on board with AI and it will make your copywriting more productive, more effective and (whisper it) more fun!

This article recommends some of the ways you can (currently) use AI in content creation. Though it’s by no means a finite list, as you’ll see as you read on.

But first, this is how we wrote this article:

  1. We wrote the article using our own ideas, experiences and the odd bit of Googling.
  2. We asked ChatGPT: Please write an engaging blog article, for a digital marketing company, titled “how to use AI in content creation”.*
  3. We combined our original article with fresh ideas from the ChatGPT article to come up with what you’re reading.

To read our original article, and the pure ChatGPT version, jump down to the end⬇.

* Note the use of the word ‘please’. There’s no reason not to be courteous to AI and, when the machines rise, it might be useful to have been polite to them!😉

The AI revolution

AI – Artificial Intelligence – has been around for many years. For example, your bank already uses AI to detect and prevent fraud or cyberattacks. And AI was a key contributor to how quickly we understood the covid virus, enabling us to diagnose and treat it.

What has changed recently is that the technology which supports AI (such as data storage and processing power) has increased considerably. This enabled more complex ‘deep learning’ and the proliferation of ways in which AI could make our lives better (in theory!).

The release of various AI systems into the wild (ie so you and I can play with them) has also increased awareness and hype.

AI isn’t going away anytime soon, so it’s time to get on board the AI express!

A robot driving a train, a metaphor for the AI express.

The (temporary?) drawbacks of AI in content creation

ChatGPT and its many competitors are by no means perfect, and if you’re going to use them for content creation right now then you need to be aware of their limitations.

We’re sure that in a few years’ time these will be partly or fully resolved, given the current pace of change.

AI lies (though not intentionally)

AI can only work with the information available to it (ie that’s available on the internet or that the programmer has decided to give it). Through machine learning it chooses which bits of this information to return to you, to fulfil your request.

Over time this process will become highly accurate. However, we’re not there yet. As we found when we asked AI some questions about our clients, it doesn’t always get its facts straight.

And the problem is, AI will present fictions to you as truths. It won’t tell you that it’s uncertain or that you ought to fact-check particular things.

So, the first lesson when using AI to write content for you, is to check it thoroughly. You’re not going to be demonstrating your organisation’s expertise if you’re producing content with inaccuracies scattered throughout it.

AI is biased (also not intentionally)

Earlier this year, Last Week Tonight examined AI and revealed some worrying bias. For example, when used to carry out an initial assessment of job applications (before they reached a human’s desk), AI was found to reflect historic bias in terms of race and gender.

Watch the full Last Week Tonight programme about AI

This isn’t really surprising. AI can only work with the information it’s given, which is generally from the wider internet. And I think we’re all clear on the types of extreme views which are aired online. AI is great at learning, but not all that discerning about what it learns.

AI can ramble on a bit

Like a slightly inebriated uncle at a wedding, AI can start to ramble, go off at tangents and repeat the same point.

If you’re looking for something succinct then you can, to some extent, get around this issue by setting a word count. But if you’re looking for a 1,000+ word article, then you won’t have much defence against a digression.

AI also isn’t great at breaking up walls of text with things like images, bullet points, sub headings, highlighted quotations…all the things that make online content more pleasing to read.

What AI might always struggle to do as well as a human

Understand your business context

When you work with a copywriter, particularly in a long term relationship, they will get to know your business intimately. They will be able to instinctively develop content which aligns to your wider business strategy.

In fact, when you work with a digital marketing agency like us, they will often lead the conversation about what topics to focus on. Their deep understanding of your business, coupled with their ongoing research and analysis, will give them a clear idea of what content would be most beneficial for you.

Having said that, AI has a phenomenal capability to sift through data, for example about the audience of your website and social media accounts. In fact, we’ve been using machine learning in software such as SEM Rush to support our client’s strategies for years. This data can be invaluable in driving your marketing forward, but still needs the human understanding of the wider context to get the most from it.

Understand each piece of content’s objectives

When you write a piece of content for your business you should always have clear target in mind.

A dartboard where a dart has hit the bullseye

For example, if you’re writing a news article about a new recruit, this might have the underlying objective of communicating to your customers that you’re a growing business, always looking to bring in new talent to serve their needs. Or perhaps that new recruit is bringing a completely new skillset to your organisation, enabling you to expand your offering.

Another example, Chat GPT could write an article including a specified list of keywords you want to target for SEO reasons, but it won’t inherently know that the article also needs to appeal to a particular section of your customer base.

The instructions you give AI need to be clear and concise. Nuance is difficult to achieve.

Understand your audience and brand’s voice

A good human copywriter will completely understand the audience for each piece they write and tailor their writing accordingly.

They will adhere to your tone of voice guidelines, ensuring that every piece of content reflects your brand values consistently. Or instinctively know when it might be appropriate to deviate from them.

AI systems do already have a limited capability to write in a certain style, such as formal or informal, positive or negative, chatty or serious. In time this will become more sophisticated, perhaps eventually AI will learn about your specific brand and audience, but we’re not sure that’s ever going to be feasible for smaller businesses. Right now, to get such a tailored approach, you need a human being who can sit in a room with you and really learn about your business.

Form an opinion for you

While AI can reflect the biases in the data it learns from, it can’t form subjective opinions for you.

A robot with sticky tape over his mouth, so he can't voice an opinion.

When you’re writing as a business, your readership wants to know your insights and experiences. They’re the sparks that bring writing to life.

For example, we write articles for a bespoke kitchen company. If we’re writing a review for one of the kitchen appliance they sell, we’ll take the opportunity to include examples of kitchen designs they’ve used that appliance in, or their views on what the appliance does well or not so well. Their readership appreciate these insights because they trust our client’s judgement. This is something which AI might never be able to replicate.

Help you write better than your competitors

Let’s say that you and your main competitor both rely on AI to write your content.

This doesn’t mean that your competitors will end up with the same content, that’s not how AI works. Every single request results in a different piece of writing, because AI is constantly learning, which is one of the amazing things about it.

However, it you do rely solely on AI, and your competitor does the same, then you’ll both be producing similar quality content, from the same sources. You lose the opportunity to gain an advantage.

Appeal to Google?

This is an interesting question (well we think so, anyway) – can Google tell if your content is created by AI? And, if it can, does it care?

Currently Google states that

Google’s ranking systems aim to reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates qualities of what we call E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness… Our focus on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced, is a useful guide that has helped us deliver reliable, high quality results to users for years.

So, right now, Google won’t penalise you for using AI, so long as you adhere to their general guidance for what they consider to be quality content.

Will this stance change in the future? Probably not – AI is a tide which not even the might of Google can turn.

Find out more about Google Search’s guidance for AI generated content.

While you’re AI generated content might not be penalised, we suspect that it will almost certainly be ignored by Google. Content which is simply regurgitated from existing, public domain information (which is all that AI can use) will fail Google’s basic quality requirements. These points for example:

Currently AI is unable to achieve these quality requirements, so for now we believe that there is very limited SEO value to using it without human input.

How you could use AI to create content

Well, there’s an easy way. You just go into a free AI tool, such as ChatGPT, or Simplified AI Writer, and ask it to write you an article. And it will!

However, as we’ve discussed, the output might not serve your purpose as well as you’d hoped.

Or you could ignore AI altogether and stick with a human-only approach. But we believe that this is missing out on some fantastic opportunities to improve the quality of your writing and your enjoyment in creating it.

Blended content development

We think the best answer is blended content development.

What do we mean by that?

We mean using a combination of machine and human copywriting. Basically, getting the best of both worlds.

A man and a robot high-fiving

AI can take a lot of the legwork out of writing and we believe that copywriters who adopt it (in the right way) will produce higher quality content, more efficiently.

Here are some of the ways in which AI could help you write your next content:

  • Provide a basic structure, or narrative, for your writing.
  • Look at the topic from angles you might not have considered.
  • Come up with compelling titles and subtitles.
  • Provide loads of content for listicles.
  • Take the pain out of keyword research.
  • Find support for an argument – though check the data sources to make sure they’re the most up to date.
  • Overcome writer’s block (though, interestingly, when we asked Chat GPT how to overcome writer’s block, it didn’t suggest itself as a solution!).

Boost productivity

Once you get used to working with AI in writing content it should speed up your process by lessening your research time, helping you get the basic structure of your article together quicker, and giving you inspiration when you’re stuck for what to write next.

Its ability to analyse large amounts of data almost instantaneously can give you fresh ideas that really resonate with your readership, without hours of trawling through reports.

For example, it’s far quicker than a human being at identifying gaps in a market, analysing a brand’s social media interactions or predicting future trends.

Boost quality

So long as you use AI judiciously, the quality of your work should remain consistent or, if anything, improve. It gives you someone who’s always on hand to brainstorm ideas or come up with a different angle.

AI can also act as your editor, helping you to polish your grammar, syntax and improve the overall quality of your writing. Some AI tools will also provide contextual recommendations for improving each piece of content. The GrammarlyGO system, for example, enables you to upload your own text and then ask the system to improve it in a certain way, such as making it sound more professional or more inspirational.

How we wrote this article

As mentioned at the beginning, we initially wrote this article ourselves, then ask ChatGPT to write the same article. What you’re reading is a combination of the two.

These are the originals:

Improvements we made thanks to the AI version

We added a couple of important points to this article after reading ChatGPT’s version:

  • We gave our title a bit more oompf.
  • We remembered how much we already use AI when researching topics and keywords for SEO purposes, and realised we hadn’t mentioned this at all.
  • We added the sections about AI boosting productivity and quality.

However, we did also note that the ChatGPT view of AI was very simplistic, overwhelmingly pro-AI and lacked nuance. It didn’t take an objective viewpoint or consider the current issues with its own capabilities.

But, then, perhaps you could argue the same about our writing. After all, the main changes we made after reading the AI generated article were to add more about the benefits of using AI in content creation. So perhaps this helped to reveal our underlying bias?

More than words

A final point – AI is, of course, not just about text. It has an enormous range of possibilities – with new ones being discovered every day.

For example, it’s not bad at drawing. All the images in this article have been created by the DALL-E2 deep learning image generator.

Self-portraits drawn by DALL-E

A series of self-portraits by DALL-E, who seems to have a slight identity crisis!

Until the computers take over altogether, we’ll still be here for all your content creation needs (harnessing the power of AI in the process)! Contact us to find out more.