If AI can make content then how do I stand out?

If AI can make content then how do I stand out

The ‘AI debate’ has been bubbling away for a while, but lately it feels like it’s finally boiled over. We finally have tools that write our content (and essays, letters, poems, and so on) for us.

There’s been a lot of recent hype in the news about the latest AI being so ‘good’ that teachers can’t distinguish a student essay from an AI-generated essay. It’s the same for marketing content. You can use tools such as GPT3 and ChatGPT to write blog posts on any topic you need. And the quality? It’ll get you a pass at marketing school, at least.

But what does this mean for the future? What does it mean for the future of your content?

Let the AI user beware – a few caveats

Producing your own content can be time-consuming and/or costly. Why wouldn’t you want to use a tool that will churn out articles, posts, and advertising copy in seconds, and for next to nothing?

Well, maybe the fact that even AI’s creator-owners are urging caution?

ChatGPT, produced by OpenAI, seems to be the tool that has caught the press’s imagination recently. However, in December ’22, CEO Sam Altman tweeted:

“ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness. It’s a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now. it’s a preview of progress; we have lots of work to do on robustness and truthfulness.”

OpenAI’s President, Greg Brockman, replied:

“ChatGPT not yet ready to be relied on for anything important!”

Besides which, ChatGPT (currently one of the most advanced AI tools available, remember) was trained on a dataset that only goes up to 2021. It knows nothing about anything that’s happened in the last year or so.

And then there’s the question of accuracy. What ChatGPT says is not guaranteed to be true – the bot itself is programmed to tell you to independently verify any text it writes.

So, at the moment, what does a future of AI-generated content look like?

Easy isn’t always good

The likelihood is, you’ll see a lot more mediocre content flooding your timeline and inbox. We’re already seeing this – just look at your Facebook feed. Words for words’ sake; not saying anything new.

Remember, AI generates text, it doesn’t create. AI content is basically a sophisticated collage of information that already exists. It is not new. It is almost always average. An AI-generated blog post has just one advantage.

To illustrate, consider Costa Coffee. Costa has both coffee shops and vending machines, both offering the same coffee. So, why go to a coffee shop and wait in line when you can get the same thing instantly at a convenience store?

The coffee shop, with its comfy chairs, may give you a better experience but the vending machine is faster. The same is true with AI content – the product is unremarkable and undifferentiated, but it’s fast.

“Technology begins by making old work easier, but then it requires that new work be better.” Seth Godin

If you want to stand out in a sea of AI-generated content, you need to add something extra to the mix: you!

AI will give you words – well-written, well-reasoned, not-necessarily-accurate words. To engage your audience, you need to add something unique: your perspective, opinions, ideas and creativity. Content often tells a story. And your business content needs to tell your story – your lived experience and knowledge combined with your passion, belief and insight combined in a way that AI cannot do.

As implied by the Seth Godin quotation above, if you want to stand out, your content has to be better than an AI can produce. It can be a great tool, but you need to add to, edit, refine, verify and otherwise enhance the output if it’s really going to represent you and your business.

For example, I use DeepL to write better emails, social media posts and other short texts. I put in my words and DeepL instantly suggests where I could use a different word or phrase, or shorten a sentence to make it more readable. It’s not perfect – it always changes “ clients” to “customers” – but it is a useful tool that helps me write better, easier and faster.

But… AI makes it so easy. Will people really notice?

Will they say, “This was written by AI”? Probably not.

Will they think, “This is the same as every other business out there”? Probably.

If you’re in the business of connecting with your clients, your content must be personal. It must say something about you, and speak directly to your audience. Your audience, your followers, your potential clients are not here for HAL9000, they’re here for you. That’s what you have to give them if you want to engage, connect, communicate, and collaborate…

You are the secret ingredient

The purpose of this post is not to dismiss AI-generated text but to point out that it is a tool, and nothing more.

You – a human being – are the magic ingredient that AI can’t and will never have. Your perspective, ideas and creativity will never be matched by AI.

To return to the question in the title of this article: If AI can make content for everyone, how do I stand out from the crowd?

The simple answer is, you won’t stand out if you rely on AI to provide your content. AI is a tool, an aid to writing… but ‘difference’ is what stands out. And your biggest difference is you. However you use AI, the end result has to sound like, has to be you.

This blog wasn’t written by an AI bot – but this one was. Spot the difference.

A screenshot of the ChatGPT blog version

If you need help writing content, AI is not the only option

Making your own content can seem a daunting prospect. It is easier to get started (or back into it) than you might think. In my book Reframing Marketing, there is a whole chapter full of ideas and practical advice for creating original content.