OpenAI’s ChatGPT is being discussed in every nook and cranny of the marketing world and hotly debated in fields from education to medicine. There’s talk of mass job automation, but also of a whole new set of ChatGPT skills that are already creating jobs.
Many of those conversations involve ChatGPT’s capabilities and limitations, its use cases, and whether it deserves the hype. In practice, its usefulness may hinge on your industry and brand, your technical ChatGPT skills, and your understanding of how to balance your voice and expertise with AI-generated copy.
Using ChatGPT strategically can be the difference between finding it overhyped and underpowered, and a time-saving, resource-sparing content hack. Let’s talk about when it makes sense to let ChatGPT do the work for you, when to do it yourself, and when you should do a little of each.
When to use ChatGPT with minimal intervention
It’s worth noting that even in these scenarios, it’s best to do a bit of tinkering on both the front and back end of creating content with ChatGPT. That means taking the time to create tailored prompts, helping ChatGPT to learn how you want it to write, and ultimately tweaking the copy it produces to meet your needs. At this stage, haphazardly dumping a few words into ChatGPT won’t yield high-value marketing content, but you can let it do much of the heavy lifting for projects like these:
Starter copy for blogs, emails, and social media content
You can feed previously written content into ChatGPT to effectively “teach” it your brand’s writing style. It might be able to learn how to write in a similar tone. Keep in mind that its capacity for things like humor, personality, and sensitivity around particular subjects is limited, and ChatGPT will be more effective at replicating the language style of some brands than others.
Think of ChatGPT as a tool for getting the ball rolling, after which you can edit for accuracy, flow, and/or tone. It can also create outlines, helping you organize your copy and get a bird’s eye view of your project.
Summarizing longer texts
ChatGPT is effective at recapping long-form copy for previews, summaries, and blurbs.
Content for the sake of content
Small, early-stage brands that need a high volume of content to begin establishing a presence quickly can use ChatGPT to churn out copy. This could work well if you sell a product or service, but might not be as helpful if your company’s primary value is your original content. For example, an email newsletter that reports marketing trends could leverage ChatGPT for content with minor adjustments, while a blog that provides in-depth analysis of those trends might find it less capable. They’re both content-based, but they require different levels of understanding and expertise.
When to use ChatGPT with significant intervention
In these cases, ChatGPT is unlikely to produce high-quality, final-product content on its own. It still has the potential to save time and resources, but is likely to require detailed prompts and significant editing to achieve the accuracy, tone, and technical utility you need.
Automated customer service tools
These interactions have high stakes, and ChatGPT isn’t yet sophisticated enough to handle customer retention and problem-solving without your oversight. It can write general customer service copy that can be edited later, informed by your nuanced understanding of the assistance your customers need and expect from your company.
Highly technical or scientific copy
At this stage, ChatGPT isn’t a search engine, and it isn’t reliably accurate, especially for this kind of content. The copy it produces will require thorough auditing for correctness.
ChatGPT doesn’t know platform best practices, or the keywords for which you want to rank, for example. These are factors you’ll need to take charge of.
ChatGPT doesn’t know which words trigger spam filters in inboxes, for example. Google and other email platforms aren’t entirely transparent about what those triggers are, and navigating them is understood by email marketers as a bit of an art form. Succeeding isn’t as simple as prohibiting ChatGPT from using one or two words. You’ll need to make more substantial tweaks to protect your email deliverability.
When to DIY
In some cases, ChatGPT is unlikely to be an effective substitute for your own voice. Here are a few things you’re better off creating organically:
Personalized outreach and communication
Let’s take email, for example. More customization = higher open rates. To customize your personalized outreach, you leverage things like personal connections — maybe you discover via LinkedIn that you worked for the same company or graduated from the same school as the recipient — and personal preferences like products a customer has viewed or purchased in the past. Customizations are critical for the success of email campaigns. By definition, they vary from person to person, so feeding them to ChatGPT on an individual basis may be inefficient.
According to an article in The Atlantic, “The bot’s output, while fluent and persuasive as text, is consistently uninteresting as prose.” If storytelling is part of your brand, it’s probably best left to humans, at least for now.
Content that relies heavily on personality and/or humor
When the personality of your brand voice carries the brand as much as (or more than) your products or service, write your own copy. ChatGPT is smart, but it can’t mimic a unique personality (yet). Things like sarcasm, irony, and other nuances in language are often beyond its capabilities. While you might see a tweet here or there about a joke that ChatGPT has written, you’ll likely find that in asking it to consistently produce humorous, on-brand content that transcends simple punchlines, it doesn’t deliver.
Content solely aimed at establishing credibility or expertise
Don’t use ChatGPT where you explicitly credit authors as experts, especially when your intention is to build that author's body of work or demonstrate their expertise — or that of your organization. OpenAI has released its own tool to identify AI-generated content, and there are others like it. They’ll become increasingly effective over time. Outright misrepresentations of content origins or expertise — irrespective of ethics — could hinder your credibility. The importance of protecting your status as an expert might vary significantly based on the nature of your organization, but if your goal is specifically to prove top-of-industry understanding, using ChatGPT could be counterproductive.
What’s simple to ask of ChatGPT in one industry, or for one company, might be unrealistic for another. A cosmetics company might find it useful for writing their website copy, while a medical-grade skincare company whose brand is carried by its scientific prowess might find that ChatGPT falls short in writing intelligently about its products.
Only you’ll know — possibly after a period of trial and error — whether you’re indeed saving time and resources by using it on particular projects. The fact that ChatGPT doesn’t have universal, one-size-fits-all utility accounts for the extensive debate surrounding its value.
While ChatGPT can be remarkably useful, especially for marketers, it’s not a magical, hands-off content wizard. With ChatGPT, you get what you give. If you expect it to carry your brand voice on its own, mimic humor, creativity, cleverness, or quirkiness, or win you distinction as an expert in your field, you’ll probably be disappointed.
On the other hand, if you take the time to fine-tune your prompts, make adjustments to copy along the way, and use ChatGPT selectively for the projects that it’s equipped to handle, it might become the new MVP in your toolbox.