A few years back, there was a widely shared meme about an epic artificial intelligence (AI) fail. Apparently, someone fed a few ‘Batman’ scripts into a content generator and the result was mostly laughable with gibberish served up as dialogue. But as the technology became more sophisticated, so did the coherence and creative output.
Early this spring, the completely goofy sci-fi film ‘Sunspring’ was released, notable because it was completely written by AI. Beyond the fun or silly parts of AI creative writing efforts, there is a real need for using automated services to support your content marketing plan.
Unlike the initial efforts, the new generation of artificial intelligence used to generate content is both sophisticated and helpful. It’s also likely to be a useful content marketing tool.
What is AI and why do I need it?
While most of us have fuzzy fearful memories of artificial intelligence gone rogue like Hal in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ or the ‘Terminator’ franchise, the reality is a lot less scary and extremely useful. In fact, I’m almost certain you’ve already used AI in your daily marketing efforts. Don’t believe me?
Here’s a look at AI usage in content marketing:
- If you’ve ever used predictive text on your smartphone, you’ve used AI.
- If you’ve ever clicked on a recommended show on Hulu or Netflix, you’ve used AI.
- If you’ve ever encountered a chatbot on a social media profile or website, you’re totally using AI!
AI fills in the blanks in your content
At a more advanced level, artificial intelligence is often employed to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. While most of us think AI is focused entirely on tech or the content or automation worlds, it recently made headlines in the art world.
Over a two-year period, AI was used to recreate missing parts of The Night Watch by Dutch master Rembrandt. Parts of the painting were offhandedly cropped 70 years after its completion because it was too big to hang on the wall between two doors of the Amsterdam civil militia. Nearly 400 years after the masterpiece was created, it has been returned to its original uncropped glory.
Using machine learning, including high-tech scanners, X-rays, digital photography, and data culled from the missing strips of the painting, restorers were able to restore the painting to its original proportions.
If you use the analogy of the Rembrandt painting, the work was already exquisite and stood on its own for centuries. That said, by using intuitive programming which supported existing data, the robust version of the painting is now available.
AI can help you research your competitors
Additionally, AI in content marketing can also be useful for analyzing competition and making things run more smoothly. Imagine having to spend hours each day researching your competitors, their best posts, and attractive content. If you use AI in the form of predictive analytics, you can study your successful content or campaigns and build from there.
Experts on the topic have also mused how AI makes writing less repetitive. So while critical thought and input are needed for more in-depth or analytical content, you might be able to use AI to augment or enhance your plan or individual projects. Instead of panicking AI will make you redundant, it’s important to realize it’s just another tool in your marketing suite.
AI makes your messaging targeted and concise. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that JPMorgan Chase began using artificial intelligence in the form of a tool created by Persado Inc. to help improve its marketing messages and email pitches. Chase compared the tightened-up copy with versions supplied by copywriters and saw how the tool improved the content drastically. That said, used poorly, AI-generated content can create pure jargon.
3 ways to use AI in your content marketing efforts
- Try not to confuse jargon with personalization. If you use chatbots or AI to respond to direct messaging or queries, create a well-thought-out response system to keep the consumer engaged.
- Use AI to check your content. If you are concerned about filler in your content, create a plan for enhancing the content with words that have more impact.
- Keep repetition out of your message. While entry-level AI tools like Grammarly can simplify the basics, if you’re working on a larger scale, it’s worthwhile to explore more robust content management systems that go beyond grammar.
What futurists think about the direction of AI
A futurist could help us figure out how to incorporate AI best practices into our future content plans, but before we do that, we first need to find out what a futurist is and what they do.
On the most basic level, futurists use their past experiences and watch for signals to predict future trends. Ford has worked with futurists on topics ranging from lifestyle to travel for years. By understanding the lifestyle, Ford came up with a way to communicate with their customers.
“Many people find their way into futuring as a second career,” said futurist Tracey Follows, CEO and founder of ‘Futuremade.’ Follows, whose book ‘The Future of You,’ explores issues of technology and identity, explained how futurists seem to find a system behind their original career path.
After the realization kicks in, “One can go onto do a course in future studies or self-learn and become proficient in futurology or strategic foresight,” Follows said. “This is where you analyze systems and look at the assumptions, dynamics, and implications of systems and use many methods and models to understand what might be possible, or probable, in the future.”
You’re not wrong if you ever felt your Twitter feed was overly interested in your online habits. It’s important for any content marketer to distinguish between understanding behavior and attempting to control it.
Harnessing the power of foresight
“Corporations, nonprofit organizations, and governments increasingly practice ‘foresight’ in an attempt to anticipate the future, or more than one future, and prepare for what’s next,” Follows said. Their goal is to use statistics, trends, and behaviors in a way that allows them to maximize future opportunities.
Follows said that predictive behavior is about, “developing entrepreneurial ideas or innovation platforms that will get us from where the products and services are today to where they need to be for the consumer of tomorrow.”
Sometimes it’s simply about, “unblocking pathways to future thinking, identifying assumptions or biases about the future that are getting in the way of better decision-making.”
3 ways not to use AI in your marketing efforts:
- Don’t try to control or coerce people into using your app or purchasing your product. The reality is that some consumers may not be aware that AI is used in content marketing and may be put off by the aggressive sales pitch. Persuasion is one thing, fear-mongering quite another.
- Don’t expect just one outcome from your marketing, or you’ll be disappointed. Try to predict and then plan for both great marketing success and potential failure is essential.
- Don’t limit your focus to your existing customer base. Change happens, and if you predict future behavior, cast a wider net to include untapped and attractive demographics.
Content marketing is all about the creator
Interestingly enough, both AI and futurists strive to discover your potential clients’ habits, tastes and dislikes to make your products and brand more appealing to them. So how can you use the idea of working with a futurist or using AI or predictive text or programs in content marketing?
“With content marketing, it’s all about the creator,” Follows said. “Context is important but, it’s about the distribution of content creation. The decentralization of tools will enable more people to be creative and to share their creativity from anywhere.”
Expect things to get splintered as this happens. “Many will go under pseudonyms to create content, especially if their information or opinion goes against the established narrative,” Follows said, which feels true with the inexplicable way cancel culture pulls the ordinary person down.
“The audience will get so close to the creative message or performer or content, that the two will become almost one and the same. We can see this already emerging in creator collectives like (TikTok accounts) hype house and vibe crew. Soon, many of these will be operating from the virtual world and the skill of a marketer will be in navigating consumers through all this.” Follows said.
“One thing the pandemic has achieved is to remind everyone of the need to pay more attention to the future, well, to the alternative possible futures, and to invest in anticipatory studies like futures. The better prepared we are for what’s coming, the less chaotic and more successful we can be.” Follows said.
Best possible methods for combining AI with your content plan:
- Plan for what’s coming next. Don’t drop content, then assign some for AI. Make a tight plan, and leave room for original content and articles created through alternate means.
- Before you hand over your content, consider your brand. Whether you are in the corporate world or a random creator, your name or pseudonym could go viral overnight, or you could become a worst-case study for content done wrong.