The opportunities and risks for using AI in content marketing

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Staring at a blank page or screen can be daunting. Coming up with engaging, coherent, and new content that will resonate with your audience each week or month can be a challenge.

Yet, overcoming these obstacles — having an aha! moment — can be a huge relief. You feel accomplished and productive, that is, at least until the cycle starts again and you’ve got to start all over again for the next project. So, why endure this relentless cycle of stress and triumph when AI content generation tools offer a seemingly effortless alternative? With a few clever prompts and a modest subscription, these tools promise to effortlessly produce blog posts, social media updates, email blasts, newsletters and even product descriptions.

But wait — there's a catch. There's always a catch.

Like any new technology, marketers should approach generative AI with discernment, weighing its advantages against its limitations and exploring opportunities without losing sight of the risks. AI isn’t magic. Creating powerful content still requires thoughtful strategy even when you leverage the helping hand of AI. Here are five things you should consider if you’re considering integrating AI into your content strategy toolbelt.

Andrew Kaufman

Director of Content Strategy at Hero Digital.

Create a POV you can scale

Think of AI as a supportive player in a content team, not the star of the show. Great content shines when it presents a strong, unique point of view — something that's not easy to replicate on a large scale, especially when working with writers who might not be as steeped in your field. Why not let internal experts lead the charge? With AI as their research buddy, they can enrich their work without getting lost in the weeds.

Creating standout content is tough work that even the pros can find starting from a blank page intimidating. That's where AI steps in as a trusty sidekick. Imagine team leaders using AI tools to quickly pull together research or find just the right examples to highlight their main points.

With AI in a supporting role, internal experts have more time to polish their thoughts. This smart partnership not only makes the content creation smoother, but also packs the final output with genuine expertise, authority and a well-articulated standpoint.

Make AI sound like your brand

Training and fine-tuning AI to echo a brand’s unique style is key. Sure, AI can try to sound like anything from a casual chat to famous personalities, but capturing the essence of the brand? That's a whole other story, and marketers won’t get that authentic vibe from just any AI-generated content.

Crafting a voice that's brand-specific isn't easy, but it's critical. Skip the cookie-cutter AI responses and really dig into what makes the brand tick. Sometimes, getting an outsider's perspective can make all the difference in nailing the brand's tone.

Generative AI can be a game-changer here if marketers put in the effort to customize it. Large Language Models (LLMs) are smart, but they need human guidance to truly speak our language. Look at Slack—they've mastered using LLMs to let users tailor their messages perfectly.

Remember, it's all about the details. Uploading examples of an ideal tone or steering clear of certain phrases can make the content feel more "brand-specific." With a bit of investment and focus, marketers can turn AI into the perfect brand ambassador.

Protect your brand's integrity

Building a successful brand is a lengthy process, yet it can be compromised quickly if the trust established with the audience is damaged.

Recently, renowned brands have faced significant trust issues for failing to disclose their AI-generated content to readers.

New Zealand's Pak'nSave and their Savey Meal bot was introduced in July 2023 and is designed to suggest meal ideas and recipes based on available ingredients. The situation took a turn for the worse when a user was advised to create chlorine gas, misleadingly promoted by the bot as an “aromatic water mix,” prompting the company to admit to ongoing adjustments to the bot’s algorithm.

This is why wariness is warranted. A strategy intended to save costs with AI might ultimately lead to greater expenses due to lost trust, diminished credibility and potential legal repercussions.

AI's rapid advancement has outpaced the ability of legal frameworks to address copyright infringement, and plagiarism concerns intrinsic to its development.

Let's consider the ethical challenges. Large language models (LLMs) are trained on extensive datasets comprising pre-existing images and information. If the data is skewed, AI's output might be, too. Consider AI training on images of CEOs. If its diet has been mostly pictures of white men in suits, it might start thinking, "Ah, this is what a CEO looks like!" Its output would reproduce the old stereotype that being a CEO is a white man's game. Even if the majority of current CEOs are white men, the AI output is overlooking the diversity and potential of everyone not fitting that narrow profile.

While legal clarity is pending, the risk of legal entanglement once regulations are established is real. The US Copyright Office has already stated that works generated by AI, such as those created by text-to-image tools like Midjourney, do not qualify for copyright protection.

The looming question is what recourse will be available if competitors use a brand’s AI-generated images or content without any legal safeguards. Without copyright protections, they may be out of luck.

Consult the experts

Leveraging AI and LLM tools holds vast potential to improve a brand’s content strategy. ChatGPT excels in aggregating research and providing insight into complex subjects and niches, helping the user better understand concepts and ideas quickly. It's also effective for drafting content outlines, giving marketers a solid framework to build upon.

But if you don’t have the time or resources to fully dive into learning about large language models and generative AI technology, you can still maximize these tools by finding appropriate resources and expert advice. For example, an expert can help them tailor a custom LLM that genuinely represents their brand's unique character and perspective.

To truly capitalize on AI's benefits for content ROI enhancement, marketers should seek the expertise of professionals to guide them through the complex technical, ethical, legal and strategic maze of generative AI because the consequences of missteps could outweigh the anticipated benefits.

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Andrew Kaufman is Director of Content Strategy at Hero Digital.