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2023 began with ChatGPT setting the internet on fire – a good fire, but a conflagration none the less. Everyone got excited as they explored, tested, and pushed OpenAIs artificial intelligence tool.
The program’s native ability to respond to questions and provide answers was nothing short of extraordinary. (You’re probably wondering at this point if it even wrote this intro — which, to be clear, it didn’t.)
Nevertheless, ChatGPT’s ability to construct texts that read with a natural, human flow is uncanny. It’s the kind of potential that makes managers and entrepreneurs alike sit up and pay attention.
The question is, if you are considering using ChatGPT for your team or company, how should you put it into practice? Here are a few suggestions for realistic ways you can leverage ChatGPT’s potential for your company’s content needs.
1. As always, start with expectations
Yes, we’re going to start with an “established expectations” introduction before we get into the issue. Why? Because this is a tool where expectations are particularly relevant.
Many want to use ChatGPT as a panacea. Why pay paid writers or invest tens of thousands of dollars a year in a stable of freelancers? With ChatGPT you can get free, auto-generated texts that read better than many blogs found on the web. Who will notice the difference (except your accountant)?
But the reality is that while it’s a huge step forward, ChatGPT isn’t a comprehensive solution to creation of text-based content. Rather, in a sense, it’s just extracting data from the web, just like Google has been doing for years. In this case, the delivery is simply in a more accessible, paraphrased form.
This improves readability. But it should also serve as a warning to those considering throwing all their eggs into the ChatGPT basket. To write for The New Yorker, Ted Chiang addresses this subtle weakness when he says, “The fact that ChatGPT rephrases material from the web rather than quoting it word for word makes it seem like a student is expressing ideas in her own words, rather than simply spewing out what she has read; it creates the illusion that ChatGPT understands the material.”
Chiang goes on to point out that this ability to repackage data does not imply learning or inherent understanding: “In human learners, rote learning is not an indicator of true learning, so ChatGPT’s inability to produce exact quotes from web pages is just what let’s think it learned something. When we’re dealing with strings of words, lossy compression looks smarter than lossless compression.”
Related: Walmart leaked memo warns against employees sharing company information with ChatGPT
In other words, ChatGPT can be a great way to creatively present information. And there are certainly ways to use that to your advantage. But all the program does is repackage pre-existing data. This does not lead to high-quality final concepts. Instead, it should be used at the very beginning of the creative process (more on that in a minute).
2. Notify ChatGPT if you want it to inform your readers
The other important thing to consider when unlocking ChatGPT’s potential is not what it can bring you, but what you have to offer. Coming up with a half-baked idea or an uninformed suggestion can skew the results.
Think of it in the context of working with a freelance writer. In most cases you hire a writer because he or she has a gift for presenting information in a recognizable and accessible way. Unless you’re dealing with a niche situation, few hiring managers expect writers to be content experts (SMBs) on the topics they write about.
They are experts in writing. That’s why they help you. For that scheme to succeed, you need to make sure they have the data necessary to create an informed piece of content. This can come from you. It could be because they work together with an SME. It may come from paying them extra to research a topic in depth. Either way, you need to make sure they have the right information before expecting them to write anything worth reading.
Give detailed instructions
The same goes for ChatGPT. You want to present the program with thoughtful, complete directions if you want a good result. SEO and content platform MarketMuse’s Senior Content Strategist, Stephen Jeske, speaks to this concept,
“Well-structured prompts are critical to getting good output from a large language model like ChatGPT.”
Jeske adds that this process doesn’t just mean recording the right data points. You should also find out what your readers are asking by using tools like MarketMuse’s Questions Data. “Part of that is making sure the output answers important questions — the type a reader would want answered when consuming that content. MarketMuse data, like the one available in Questions, can make that happen.”
If you want to use ChatGPT’s full potential, you need to do your homework first. Yes, you don’t have to write a 500 word article on a topic. But make sure you clearly understand the information and questions you’re trying to answer before you let the program compose a text.
3. Use ChatGPT as a starting point
Finally, make sure you’re using ChatGPT as a way to kickstart the creative process, not wrap it up. The strength of the program lies in the beginning, not in the polished final copy.
Do not treat ChatGPT as a license. Instead, use its capabilities to streamline content creation by:
- Brainstorm about topics.
- Creating outlines for human writers to follow.
- At most, compiling “first drafts” of text that a writer can modify significantly through editing activity.
If you can do your research, find the right questions you want answered, and use the tool to lubricate the creative process, you can unlock ChatGPT’s potential to really impact your business. Remember that everything starts with your expectations. Don’t treat AI like a hack. Instead, use it as a tool — you might even say a partner — that you can work with to help you content creation to the next level.