I’ve been doing this writing thing for too many decades to not feel protective of the craft. So I think I can be forgiven if my instinct is to push back against the encroachment of ChatGPT and its large-language AI ilk on my precious realm of content creation.
But not long ago — after I enlisted ChatGPT to process some words in answer to a prompt (I won’t call it “writing,” sorry not sorry) — a revelation visited me.
ChatGPT can crank out pretty good, even impressively contextualized copy in seconds. I can’t foresee a time when that fact won’t blow my mind.
But consider this:
- ChatGPT can’t read your mind. The copy you get back will only answer the prompt you provide. Expect little nuance and zero intuition.
- ChatGPT in my experience has tended to generate content that’s strictly templated. Yes, structure and coherence matter tremendously. But for the sake of my audience, I want my content to be more entertaining than something that comes off as written to satisfy a high-school essay rubric.
- ChatGPT will answer your prompt using only information that’s already out there and accessible by the AI. It can’t know about the research deck that just landed in your Teams feed or the exciting new brand guidelines your company’s currently fine-tuning.
- Speaking of which, and this applies especially to SMBs: I believe ChatGPT falls short of generating content in your brand’s true, human voice as well as you can write it.
Which leads me to my revelation:
ChatGPT is a terrific entry-level copywriter. But YOU need to put on your editor pants.
When I can get a piece of copy that’s 80% or more “there” in seconds (vs. hours)…
When that copy has spelling, punctuation, and grammar dialed in (so I don’t have to fine-tooth-comb it) …
When it coherently and persuasively answers in full the brief it was given …
Then I’ve got a tool that I’d be foolish not to use.
But I (and you) would be just as foolish to simply drop ChatGPT-generated copy into your blog, social, or video content without applying the standard due diligence you’d do with human-generated copy.
Thanks, ChatGPT, but we humans will take it from here.
After you get your output from the AI, it’s time for you to take over.
Brand Voice. You can ask ChatGPT to write a love sonnet as it would appear in the J. Peterman catalog and the result would get chuckles. But if you’re an SMB, you’ll probably stump the AI when it comes to capturing and expressing the nuanced personality of your brand voice.
Tone. Does the output read/sound like your company? Is it casual and conversational where and when you need it to be? Are the vocabulary and rhythms appropriate?
Optimization. Don’t expect AI to check all the boxes for SEO. Expect instead to spend time fine-tuning ChatGPT’s output to give it its best chance in search. Let our Big Book of SEO be your guide.
Engagement. ChatGPT doesn’t have a strategy to keep visitors on your site, steer them to more of the information they’re after, and convert them to the next stage in their buyers journey. (Engagement strategy stuck? Download 10 Critical Questions You Should Ask About Your Website.)
Extras. Remember that hot-off-the-press research I mentioned above? ChatGPT doesn’t know what’s going on under the hood in your business, especially if you’re a fast-thinking, fast-moving, let’s-try-it, organization. It’s up to you and only you to integrate that entrepreneurial vibe into your content.
In conclusion, I’ll encourage you to think of the large-language chatbots as highly capable “newbie” in-house or freelance writers.
Take full advantage of their capabilities. Revel in the time and costs they can save you. Accept that they, like those new writers, aren’t immersed in your organization’s values and culture. And gleefully flex your power as the ultimate shaper of the content that reps your brand.