What is ChatGPT? What are its potential uses in marketing? Will ChatGPT replace content writers? How will ChatGPT shape the future of small businesses?
Because OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, has gone viral, it raises these questions and more. Today, we’re going to focus on one core question of particular interest to us: Will ChatGPT replace content writers?
But before we get into the nuances of ChatGPT’s current capabilities in writing content, we have to first address what it actually is.
What Is ChatGPT?
According to ChatGPT itself, it is “a conversational AI language model developed by OpenAI. It uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like text responses to prompts, allowing it to engage in a wide range of conversations, from answering questions to generating creative writing. ChatGPT is trained on a large corpus of text data and can generate coherent and informative responses to various inputs, making it useful for applications such as chatbots, customer service, and content generation.”
In other words, it’s an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot where you can ask questions or make requests, and it generates a response based on what it has learned. So far, the basic version is free to use and has become a viral sensation.
ChatGPT has been programmed to complete a variety of queries, including writing original songs, poetry, and stories; generating lists of suggestions; providing recipes; summarizing topics; answering questions; and more.
That’s part of what makes ChatGPT such an excellent source of online entertainment and the primary reason it’s gone viral. People have enjoyed the novelty of asking ChatGPT to “write a Taylor Swift song about carrots” or “write a story about a ladybug that becomes the mayor of New York City.”
So, it’s a fun toy, but can it function as a tool?
What Can ChatGPT Do For businesses?
The rise of ChatGPT has raised a lot of questions. For one, how far do ChatGPT’s abilities extend? Can it be used to supplement and ideate marketing content? Is it capable of performing on the level of a human copywriter? Will ChatGPT replace content writers in the near future?
To answer these questions, I decided to put ChatGPT to the test, starting with a basic task.
Example 1: Rewording
First, I sourced a paragraph from one of our previous blogs. Then, I gave ChatGPT the following command.
Reword this paragraph: “Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools that can propel referrals to your business. However, it largely depends on loyalty, which you have to earn. This won’t happen by simply greeting customers when they come into your business; you need to go above and beyond to form these kinds of bonds. Luckily, there are some fairly straightforward things you can do.”
In return, ChatGPT gave me the following output:
“Word-of-mouth referrals can significantly boost your business, but it requires building customer loyalty. Merely greeting customers is not enough; exceptional efforts are required to establish such relationships. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to achieve this.”
While this rewrite is decent for an AI, it sometimes misses the spirit of the text. While the original paragraph is more conversational and casual, the rewrite is overly formal and machine-like.
So, I ran the query a second time, this time with the caveat that it write the paragraph in the same voice as the original.
ChatGPT responded with the following:
“The power of word-of-mouth referrals for your business is immense, but earning the loyalty of your customers is the key to making it happen. Simply greeting your customers upon their arrival won’t cut it — you need to take extra steps to forge a strong bond. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to achieve this.”
As you can see, the language is still somewhat stilted. That’s not to say this isn’t very impressive, but it needs tweaking to read as though a human wrote it.
I also tried inputting the entire article to see how ChatGPT would handle a full rewrite in the same voice. Unfortunately, the result was not much better and still came across as impersonal.
Example 2: Content
One of the segments that always gets positive feedback in our newsletter is our book review. So, I asked ChatGPT to write a 5-paragraph book review for “Lost and Founder” by Rand Fishkin.
This was the output:
“‘Lost and Founder’ is a memoir written by Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, an SEO software company. The book provides an inside look at Fishkin’s journey as an entrepreneur, from starting a small startup to scaling it into a successful company and eventually stepping down as CEO.
“One of the key themes in ‘Lost and Founder’ is the concept of ‘marketing is broken.’ Fishkin argues that traditional marketing techniques, such as advertising and PR, are no longer as effective as they once were and that startups need to focus on more creative and authentic ways to reach and connect with their target audience. He also stresses the importance of creating a unique and compelling brand story to attract customers and investors.
“Another highlight of the book is Fishkin’s honesty and transparency about his personal struggles and failures as an entrepreneur. He shares the ups and downs of running a business, including the pressure of fundraising and managing a growing team, and the lessons he learned along the way. Fishkin’s honesty and vulnerability make the book relatable and easy to connect with.
“The book also provides practical advice and insights for entrepreneurs and startups. Fishkin shares his experience and insights on topics such as product development, team building, and fundraising. He provides actionable steps and tips for entrepreneurs to implement in their own businesses.
“Overall, ‘Lost and Founder’ is an insightful and inspiring read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and marketing. Fishkin’s writing style is engaging, and his story is relatable, making the book a must-read for any aspiring entrepreneur. Whether you’re starting a business or leading a team, you will find valuable lessons and insights in this book.”
This output was solid. With just a few alterations, it could make for a decent piece of content for our newsletter. However, a human would need to carefully vet this type of content for accuracy since ChatGPT has been known to make errors.
But what about personal content? Surely ChatGPT won’t be able to write stories from an individual’s perspective, right?
Example 3: Personal Stories
When it came to ChatGPT’s ability to write personal stories, I tested a few different perspectives with varying levels of detail.
I asked it to write a personal story about a business owner who makes apple butter, using Southern idioms. I asked it to tell me a story in the first person about a business owner’s dog. I asked it to write a story in the first person from the perspective of a dentist who had a scary experience on Halloween.
(I tested too many topics to include here, so I encourage you to consider running your own queries if you are interested).
Overall, I was impressed with the detail ChatGPT fabricated on the spot to fill in the gaps in these stories. Like some of the other responses from ChatGPT, the stories lacked nuance, but overall, I found them pretty entertaining.
I did get one very interesting response that stood out from the others, though. I asked ChatGPT to tell a story in the first person from a lawyer’s perspective about his daughter.
This was the response I got.
“As a lawyer, I’ve seen my fair share of complex legal cases and challenging clients, but the most important and rewarding case I’ve ever worked on is the one closest to my heart: my daughter.
“She was born with a rare heart condition, and the doctors told us that she would need multiple surgeries throughout her life to correct it. We were devastated, but we also knew that we would do whatever it took to give her the best life possible.
“That’s where I came in. I used my legal skills to navigate the maze of insurance and medical laws to make sure my daughter got the care she needed. I fought for her rights and advocated for her every step of the way. I was determined to make sure she got the best treatment and the best possible outcome.
“It wasn’t easy. There were countless battles with insurance companies and long nights researching medical procedures and laws. But I never wavered in my commitment to my daughter. I was her voice and her defender, and I was never going to give up on her.
“And in the end, all the hard work paid off. My daughter is now a thriving, happy, and healthy young woman. She’s heading off to college soon, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Being a lawyer is a challenging and demanding job, but it has also given me the tools and the skills to fight for what matters most: my family. And I will always be grateful for that.”
I was amazed at the detail ChatGPT put into the story after being provided with minimal information. The story is also moving, which is great for personal content.
But there is one glaring problem with this content.
The story is completely fabricated. That may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s actually a huge deal.
When we write newsletters for our clients, we always encourage them to share personal stories. Over time, those personal stories help them to form real, meaningful connections with their readers. Those relationships simply cannot be built on falsehoods.
Imagine if one of our law clients took that story and ran it in their newsletter. Of course, the consequences of that decision might not come immediately, but they will come. Eventually, someone might mention the client’s daughter and her heart problem. By then, the attorney may have forgotten about the article entirely.
Or perhaps one of the readers might see his daughter and express how glad they are that she is doing better. If that happened, she would seem baffled by the comment and not know what they were talking about. Awkward.
Worse yet, what if the client doesn’t even have a daughter and runs the story?
Publishing fabricated stories is a one-way ticket to losing credibility and shooting your content marketing strategy in the foot. Personal content has to be authentic, plain and simple.
The Advantages Of ChatGPT
Before diving deeper into the issues with the ChatGPT responses, we need to consider the advantages ChatGPT can provide for business owners.
- ChatGPT can write very quickly.
ChatGPT’s speed is likely one of the primary reasons it seems to threaten content writers. It is capable of receiving a query and giving an output within seconds. So, in terms of writing speed, it is significantly faster than humans.
This can be especially helpful for writing generic content (as seen in Example 2), leading us to our next point.
- ChatGPT can be used to write basic content with human oversight.
Eventually, ChatGPT will likely get to the point where it can write basic articles and essays on general topics that can be used as business content. However, humans will still need to vet this content to avoid errors and discrepancies.
- ChatGPT is a good source of ideas and suggestions.
One of the most useful capabilities of ChatGPT is its ability to brainstorm ideas and make lists.
For example, I asked it to brainstorm a list of marketing content ideas for small businesses, and it gave me back the following list:
- Blog posts on industry-related topics
- Customer testimonials and case studies
- Social media posts highlighting products or services
- Infographics on company processes or statistics
- Email newsletters featuring promotions and new offerings
- Videos showcasing products or behind-the-scenes at the business
- How-to guides and tutorials related to the business offerings
- Interactive quizzes or surveys for audience engagement
- Live streams or webinars on topics relevant to the target audience
- User-generated content campaigns encouraging customers to share their experiences
- Collaborations with other businesses or influencers
- Local event sponsorship or co-branding opportunities
- Online advertisements on platforms like Google or Facebook
That’s pretty helpful if you’re stuck on the next steps you need to take. In all likelihood, this feature is the most useful for businesses across a variety of industries.
The Disadvantages Of ChatGPT
While ChatGPT is undoubtedly an amazing tool and can be very helpful to business owners in various contexts, it is far from perfect. These factors can also help us to answer the question, “Will ChatGPT replace content writers?”
Here are some of the more obvious issues with the service.
- ChatGPT is currently unreliable.
As it currently stands, ChatGPT is still in its early stages of development and occasionally struggles to distinguish between fact and fiction. Some of these inaccuracies can be glaring and, from a content perspective, could lower one’s credibility.
For example, suppose ChatGPT wrote a piece of your company’s content that contained inaccuracies. Without human oversight, you might end up distributing that content and undermining your expertise.
ChatGPT’s ability to write content at warp speed might be appealing, but it still must be carefully monitored and vetted.
- ChatGPT misses many nuances a human would have when writing content.
It’s no secret that sometimes ChatGPT’s answers are robotic. While investigating its capabilities, I noticed that sometimes its responses were comically so.
For example, I asked ChatGPT to write a personal story in the first person about a plumber who runs her own plumbing company.
The very first paragraph of the response I received read:
“I’m a plumber, but not just any plumber. I own my own plumbing company, and let me tell you, it’s been quite a journey getting here. I always knew I wanted to be in the trades, but the idea of running my own business didn’t come until later.”
That opening is just one of the many robotic-sounding ChatGPT responses. Human content writers would have easily avoided the issues in this intro. But ChatGPT was simply unable to write any better due to its current level of sophistication.
- ChatGPT is limited in the subjects it will cover.
Since the creators of ChatGPT want the program to appeal to the broadest audience possible, ChatGPT is unlikely to cover controversial subjects and political content, among other things. Currently, you might get short answers on these topics. However, getting enough content for a longer piece will be difficult.
OpenAI states they’ve “trained a model called ChatGPT, which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”
It is unclear what subjects will be too controversial to cover in the future. As users introduce new issues and concerns, ChatGPT may get to the point where it will not discuss disputed topics at all. In that case, human content writers will need to write any content on those subjects if that’s your niche.
- ChatGPT struggles to copy the voices of individuals accurately.
As demonstrated in Example 1, ChatGPT struggles to mimic voices and styles accurately. This is especially noticeable if you ask it to write a song in the style of a particular artist. Typically, it will include some cliches from their work, but it cannot mimic their voice convincingly. This is true even when ChatGPT has substantial content to use as an example.
So, in terms of business content, it will be very hard for ChatGPT to write in the owner’s style. Unless its abilities improve, companies will still need their own content writers to cover those topics.
- ChatGPT has to fill in its gaps while storytelling.
As shown in Example 3, ChatGPT does have a wild “imagination.” While its ability to create stories is impressive, it presents problems when filling in knowledge gaps.
Even when provided with many data points, ChatGPT still falls short. It simply can’t communicate a personal story as well as a human can — at least not now.
- ChatGPT’s availability can be unreliable.
Recently, ChatGPT was unavailable to many users due to its lack of server capacity. When this happened, the only solution for users was to wait until fewer people were using the program. But that can be very frustrating if you’re a business owner in a time crunch.
Suppose businesses become reliant on ChatGPT to write their content, and the server were to become overloaded. In that case, they’d miss deadlines and lose out on profits.
While ChatGPT is currently working on expanding its server capacity, it’s still not enough to be a reliable tool yet. For now, human content writers are still far more reliable.
- ChatGPT may function on a pay-per-question basis in the future.
With the soaring popularity of ChatGPT, the service will likely adopt some sort of paid model in the future.
In fact, OpenAI has already announced a plan to offer a new version of the software that’s $20 per month with more features. While that may seem like a reasonable fee for a business now, the future cost of the full ChatGPT experience is uncertain.
As mentioned, the current abilities of ChatGPT also still require human oversight. Right now, businesses still need human writers to carefully vet AI if they use it.
So, will ChatGPT replace content writers? Probably not anytime soon. The service is still at a stage where humans must carefully screen its content. And it simply cannot compete with traditional content writers when it comes to telling personal stories.
Of course, that’s all subject to change as AI advances, but content writers can breathe a sigh of relief for now. We’re still better suited for content writing than a machine.
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