Social Savvy: A look at generative AI for your business – June 2023

By Irene Williams

Generative AI. Language models. Machine learning. Conversational chatbot. Prompt engineering. ChatGPT. Bard. These represent what I have coined artificial-intelligence content and asset generation, an emerging category in the lexicon of modern marketers and business leaders. Though you are likely focused on other modes of digital marketing, like social media, email list building and SEO, it’s important that you clue in and be aware of what’s happening with this exponentially advancing technology. It’s increasingly relevant-and prevalent-in business and everyday life.

We commonly see chatbots employed to automate customer service on websites; they offer stock answers to predictable questions so that businesses only need to involve human representatives when customers’ inquiries go beyond the norm. Now, imagine a chatbot that’s “learned” nearly everything that exists on the Internet, so it doesn’t just crank out set responses to predictable questions but can generate human-like text in nearly any style or tone on nearly any topic for any purpose that you request of it. The ability to produce unique responses is why this technology is described as “generative,” not “predictive.”

ChatGPT, developed by a company named OpenAI, garners the most attention in this arena because it operates on the most advanced model of generative AI technology. This kind of tech has been around for a while now. Companies such as Jasper and Bramework have provided AI-generated content creation for some time, but ChatGPT’s jaw-dropping capabilities swept the category and brought it to the forefront. Now it seems everybody and their second cousin is clamoring to get in on the action.

“Should we include the website on our business cards?” was an actual question posed to me by a tile industry client in the early 2000s. Of course, I responded with an emphatic “Absolutely!” because it was clear that websites would be ubiquitous, and any business that adopted them early would be ahead of the game. The moral of that long-ago story applies to the use of generative AI today.

I’m not saying you should immediately shift all of your marketing and customer communications to AI. Not at all! I am saying that you, as a business leader in the modern marketplace, must be knowledgeable and on-the-ready regarding any tech advancements that are so sweepingly prevalent and relevant. Generative AI is already nearing ubiquitous status. Don’t you want to be ahead of the game?

Maybe you waited a few years to get on board with social media and digital marketing, but it all worked out, and your business caught up in those arenas soon enough. Don’t rely on that past approach now. Digital marketing and social media move fast, but they’re turtle-pace compared to AI. Show up late to the generative-AI party, and you may be left in so much dust that you can never fully dig out.

Pardon if what I just shared gave you a reactionary jolt. I promise I’m not trying to rush you into anything. My only goal is to let you know that the time is now to wake up to what’s happening and to remind yourself it’s advantageous to be forward-thinking when it comes to emerging technology.

Here’s how I might approach generative AI for a business such as yours.

Begin with knowledge acquisition: Don’t jump into the ocean without a life jacket. Start by providing your execs and marketing team the time and resources to become versed in the technology and its potential uses and pitfalls. Look at case studies of other businesses’ uses of ChatGPT.

Provide prompt engineering training to those responsible for using the tech: Prompt engineering is the skill of crafting specific, effective “asks,” or inputs, for ChatGPT so that its outputs/results are on target. While I’m typically a big fan of “learning by doing” as an efficient way to remove the training wheels, so to speak, I am seeing that direct training on prompt engineering in advance of using this tech is beneficial. Generative AI is nuanced and can be quirky. Getting training will help users save time and avoid frustration.

Start thoughtfully and start small: Try out the tech on small, lower-profile projects that you choose with clear purposes in mind. A cautious foray will accommodate inevitable learning curves and the need to pivot frequently. I’ve seen large organizations pay the price for inept use of this technology to generate nationally distributed press statements and the like. Learn from those errors so you don’t repeat them.

Examples of small projects for generative AI:
• Blog writing for SEO: Ask ChatGPT, Bard or a comparable service to generate long-form blogs on topics that address frequently asked questions for your business. Be sure to engineer your prompts so that the AI produces content that covers your topic in the proper tone of voice while also including keywords and phrases to support SEO goals. Also, make sure you edit out the inaccurate facts in the computer-generated response because they will be there.

• Email marketing funnel: Generate a series of emails for a specific marketing funnel, such as onboarding new signups to join your email list, and take some kind of action with your business within the first month of engagement.

• Market research for internal consumption: Create reports and overviews of competition or category trends that can be of help to internal teams as you consider sales and marketing strategies. This is a good way to collect insights broadly across the marketplace and distill the info into a helpful format for reference.

NOTE: Generative AI is not a search engine, even though it scours online content to output results. It goes far beyond offering well-ordered, narrative search results.

This tech is undeniably impressive in its capabilities; it’s a giant leap into the convergence of human and artificial intelligence. Nonetheless, it’s far from being perfect, let alone accurate, 100% of the time. As you take those aforementioned small steps in incorporating it into your business, keep these points in mind.

Human intelligence, writing and thinking are more important than ever: I’ve read about many leaders within large corporations decreeing that they now look for “prompt engineering”-not “writing”-on resumes. I respectfully question this and contend the value of human intelligence as expressed in good writing from creative, clear thinking is now more essential.

Here’s my reasoning: Generative AI derives all its content, including tone/voice, from what already exists. It draws from ideas and accounts previously published by others, and it is not intelligent enough to modify or add completely original or personal perspectives to what it generates. It takes human intelligence to weave in stories of individual experience, non-replicable novelty, unique brand details and authenticity. In other words, businesses still need excellence in thinking up and articulating ideas at all levels of the organization.

OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, bakes the nuance of human versus artificial generation of content into its terms of service (more on this in the next point). In other words, this tech should be treated as a tool to be mastered by people, not replace them.

Users must state if content is unaltered ChatGPT verbiage: Considering the rush to adopt this tech, I bet many users aren’t aware that ChatGPT’s terms of service require them to tell audiences if their content is “solely from ChatGPT.” In Section 2(c)(v), it reads, “Restrictions: You must not: represent that output from the Services was human-generated when it is not.” Only if users incorporate their human intelligence into the mix by adding commentary, rephrasing and revising can they avoid the requirement of stating content is solely from ChatGPT.

Users must navigate issues regarding plagiarism and intellectual property/ownership: With generative AI, you own the inputs, aka the prompts, that you supply to the tech to generate outputs. Though OpenAI’s terms currently state that you also own the resultant outputs, you are not presently able to copyright unaltered ChatGPT content. Also, it’s your responsibility to ensure you are “not infringing on copyrights, trademarks or other intellection property rights,” as stated in the terms of use.

Herein lies yet another reason why human intelligence is essential in the era of generative AI. To avoid potential issues and make the outputs your own, you, the human, must alter them for originality and uniqueness.

I understand that you and your team may find it challenging enough to keep up with rapidly changing “traditional” modes of digital tech and social media for business. Adding generative AI to the mix may feel like a push toward the precipice of overwhelm and overload. Regardless, you shouldn’t disregard or outright ignore this technology. Whether or not you ever use it in your business, it’s already integrated into how the world communicates.

What I’ve covered in this article is only the top of the tip of the iceberg, but, if you heed it as you read it, you will have baseline knowledge that can be an advantage for your biz.

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