Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has come a long way. It’s time to reflect on and come up with business policies around this new technology. The first time I encountered a business owner viewing AI as an existential threat to their business was years ago when I was writing for a language translation company. The panic was palpable.
We collaborated to create a few blog articles about why you will always need a human to provide translation services. To be honest, I was skeptical of the claims we were making in those articles. Ever the philosopher, though, I made the most persuasive case I could. Still – and admittedly based on what little I know about the technology – language translation seems tailor made for an algorithm. I could see the writing on the digital wall back then, and of course, AI technology has only gotten better since then.
Now as we see AI bots for content creation popping up, I’m facing my own existential questions about this technology. There was one week back in August when three friends told me in separate conversations, “You need to check out this new AI copywriting tool. It’s so amazing. You’re going to love it!”
My immediate thought was, “Love it? Do you know what I do? That’s going to put me out of business.” Panic ensued. But then, I got curious. I decided I wouldn’t let fear dictate what I think about AI for content creation. So, after playing around with a few different options (e.g., Jasper.ai, Copy.ai, and Hypoteneuse.ai), here are my uncensored thoughts about the best uses for this technology.
How Does AI for Content Creation Work?
Before we get to use cases and best practices, let’s talk about how copywriting AI works. Again, understanding the actual technology is above my pay grade. So here’s the best non-techy explanation I could find: AI produces content using machine-learning software. It works by training an algorithm to search millions of web pages looking for patterns, and then it uses that information to generate new content on a specific topic.
I won’t share reviews of specific content creation AI tools because I haven’t done anything like a comprehensive comparative test, but if you’re thinking about playing with the technology, you should know some are better for long form content and others are better for generating copy or social media content. All of the apps I tried offer free trials, so you can play around with them to figure out what suits your needs.
Speaking of your needs, where can AI fill in content gaps and make your writing sessions more efficient?
AI Can Fill the Need for High Volume Content
I hate to say this because I’m an advocate for more high quality content, not simply more content, but if you’re responsible for pumping out loads of content for a brand, then AI can certainly make that process easier and shorten your writing time.
AI tools can save you time by outlining your content and delivering information that you would otherwise find only after spending hours researching. You can enter a title or even just a few key words and the bot will outline your article for you. Then you can enter each of the subheadings into the bot again and it will generate different sets of several paragraphs from which you can choose the best one. You can also tweak the inputs, changing key words or headings, and ask the software to produce new content.
It is truly amazing what these bots can do. By combining the information AI provides with your own creativity, you may find that you get better results in half the time.
Also, because AI builds content with perfect sentence structure and grammar, you can post your AI-powered content with confidence. You will want to read it first, of course, to make sure everything is relevant to your audience. You can also use AI to fix paragraphs you’ve written, checking your grammar and improving readability.
I’m the last one to say that what we need is more content in the world. What we need is more high quality content and insofar as AI contributes to that cause, then I’m all for giving the bots a seat at the writers’ table. Producing massive amounts of high quality content, however, won’t solve readers’ inability to discern what quality content looks like.
Our biggest problem isn’t that there’s too much content being produced. It’s that we don’t always take the time to consider whether the content we find is truly high quality. The best quality content comes from human beings using AI intelligently. For this to happen, though, we need content creators with strong critical thinking skills.
AI is Great for Repurposing Content
One place where I intend to use AI is for repurposing existing content. I have a library full of blog articles and LinkedIn posts collecting virtual dust. Although I know I could be repurposing that content, it’s often difficult for me to find new ways to say the same thing. AI, on the other hand, is designed for just this type of project. So this is a place where I think almost anyone could get a benefit from using AI.
The World Still Needs Content Creators
Regardless of whether you’re team AI or a content creation purist, you probably agree that the world needs creators. After all, the innovation of machine learning and AI wouldn’t have been possible without the creativity of the human mind. But will AI ever become powerful enough to replace great content creators?
I don’t have a crystal ball and I have nothing to say that will give freelance writers, copywriters, and ghostwriters complete peace of mind here. Will AI ever replace great content creators? I doubt it. But if you’re looking for permission to bury your head in the sand, you’re reading the wrong article.
What I will say is it pays to always be innovating. Good entrepreneurs watch the market, listen to the challenges their clients and prospects encounter, and pivot their offers when it makes sense. And, good writers need to think like entrepreneurs. Still, whether you think of yourself as an entrepreneur or not, you need to be thinking about how you can differentiate yourself from other writers, including AI bots. Frankly, if you’re not innovating, you’re probably not a great content creator.
It’s never easy to innovate or shift away from your original idea, but adaptability is the mark of highly successful entrepreneurs (and writers). I’m in the middle of a small – or at least I hope it’s going to small – shift in how I talk about my content marketing services. The uncertainty can be painful, but ultimately I know I’m moving toward being able to deliver more of what my clients need and as long as I can continue to do that, I don’t need to worry about AI putting me out of business.
If, like me, you’re worried that AI might pose an existential threat, I encourage you to play around with some AI tools so that you can speak intelligently about their use. Knowing what you’re up against is way more empowering than burying your head in the sand.
The bottom line: Can a robot write your copy? Sure, but you’ll only be happy with the quality if you add in a heaping helping of human critical thinking skills.
Photo credit: https://www.123rf.com/profile_limbi007