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Is AI the future of writing copy or the Emperor's new clothes?

Updated: Jan 24, 2023


Early last year, I was bombarded by adverts encouraging me to join up to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) copy writing service.


This online service was going to change my life and I could have 2,000 words a month for free but for the small investment of $49 (excluding tax) a month I could have unlimited words.


Now, I write copy for a living. I produce blogs every week, either my own or editing other people's work, so 2k words isn't much. It's about 4 pages.


Then, just before Christmas, ChatGPT began to be whispered about by the developers I hang with. They were using it to correct code. Not write large amounts, but to look at where small bugs were that they would have spent more time to fix than were worth it.


The developers were raving about it.


So, off I hopped and took a look. Would this be the next big thing to write copy for me or would this be the Emperor's new clothes all over again? You remember the story of the Emperor's new clothes?


How everyone was so frightened by the Emperor that they didn't want to tell him he was standing here in his underwear?


Were we all going to start using AI copy creators and basically end up with exactly the same words on every website?


In order to use the free version of ChatGPT, you need to create an OpenAI account. If you click on this link for OpenAI and then click to open ChatGPT it will take you through doing that.


So, what are the benefits of using ChatGPT to create copy?


So, I asked ChatGPT exactly that question


Let's say I wasn't too shocked by the answer:


ChatGPT response
ChatGPT answers why I should use them to create copy

Point 1 - Efficiency

Ok, I'll concede that it's quick and efficient. When I'm editing, I sometime come across a concept that I'm not an expert on and need to refresh myself on. This is a perfect use for ChatGPT. However, ChatGPT does not give external references, so if you want to add in that response and help other to find out more, you still have to go and get the outside references by searching the web.


Point 2 - Personalization

Ooh, so I can train ChatGPT. Guess what I did next? Yep, I asked it how to go about doing that.


How do I fine-tune ChatGPT ...
How do I fine-tune ChatGPT ...

Sorry ... what? Ok, I might not be doing that as it would be quicker to just write it myself.


Point 3 - Versatility

Yes, it is versatile. I've asked it about, amongst other things:

  • Quantum computing

  • Jenkins tools

  • challenges to women in STEM

  • Jolabokaflod tradition in Iceland

  • Christmas Folk Tales in Europe

  • why can't I find the metapicture website

  • Micro Frontend overview

  • explain bobbin lace

Any query about websites is politely refused with the response: I'm sorry, but I am not able to access any external information and do not have any information about the status or availability of the website you mentioned.


Point 4 - Cost Effective

Well, it is less expensive than hiring copy writers but ... and here is the issue, if two people ask the same question, then they will both get the same answer. Go put that on your website or use it as your description for a selling platform like Etsy and you are going to have issues of plagiarism.


And it wasn't long before there was a post on Reddit where someone had used it to create a 4k word essay for their degree and been called out by the university.


Point 5 - Consistency

Well, the results do have a similar feel to them but as we've already realized, I'm not going to be teaching it my brand 'tone of voice' as that is just way too complicated and time consuming.


Is a personal tone of voice important?

Yes, is the short answer. But let's explain that a bit more.


When you visit a website or read a blog, you are trying to find something; it might be a product or information, but you are interacting with that piece of information.


Ever read something, then read it again, then again and finally realised it's not going into your brain?


Well, what's happened there is that you haven't engaged with the content.


Normally, you fail to engage because you were tired or distracted. You'll go and have a cup of tea, come back to it and it goes in. Other times, you will find yourself reading further into an article or site than you intended to. That's when you have really engaged with the content ... it's connected with you.


When we write copy, we are looking to make it sticky. We want you to read the whole article, like the post or buy the thing we are selling.


In order to do that, we will write with a style or 'tone of voice' that matches the brand that we are working with. The obvious way of promoting a brand style is in the look of the pictures used to illustrate. But more subtly, it's in the language and reading level that is used.


There will be a style and way of writing that draws you in and makes you connect with the author.


If every person selling product X, regardless of which brand offers it, creates their copy using the same AI then every description of product X on every website, blog, Instagram, Facebook and advert will read the same. And you will start to get product fatigue. How do you choose to buy from brand A over brand B when they say the same thing.


Think of washing powder / liquid. They basically all do the same thing. You add them to your washing and it helps to clean your laundry. But each brand has their own take on what the benefits of their brand are and they are aren't just how well they clean.


They then take those benefits and show them to you in their own way. Some focus on washing at low temperatures, some focus on killing bacteria, some on how affordable they are. Even those brands that have the same benefit tell you about it in a different way.


This is so you can fix that message to that product. And that is to make it memorable to you so you may not remember the message immediately, but with some prompting, such as an image or phrase when you do your google search, you will then go 'oh, I remember' and it will come flooding back.


So, back to my original question ...

As with all new things, use AI content with caution. It's not so much that the Emperor is only in their underwear, more that they have a number of clothing items missing.

  1. Quick way to get a synopsis of your topic - If you trust the AI's sources

  2. It's a starting point only - always try to rewrite into your own words so that you aren't accused of plagiarism or copying someone else's site

  3. Keep your voice in the work - when rewriting bring in the sense of you and your humour and thoughts.

  4. Fact check before you publish - just in case those sources aren't as reliable as you thought

Want to know what others are saying? Check out SearchEngineJournal's article here


 


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