AI is taking over the world – not with military might, but with words. AI is taking over as a content writer, with the ability to write articles at a rate that would make humans blush.
Content is king, and the rise of AI content writers is a sign of the times. The world is changing, and computers are starting to take over.
But what does this mean for content marketers?
Well, it’s not all bad news. AI offers content marketers a way to reach more people, in a faster time frame, and with greater quality control.
The four paragraphs you just read were written by artificial intelligence, or AI.
All I had to do was provide an outline so it could “think.” With a few clicks of the mouse, it came up with such suggestions. AI wrote those sentences in a blink, and while they’re not the best, they’re not bad at all..@JuliaEMcCoy of @Expwriters took @gethyperwrite (@othersideai) and @conversionai for a spin -- two #AI #writing tools. Learn the results in her blog recap! 🤖 ✍️ Click To Tweet
How AI Is Taking Over the World… of Content Marketing
The global market has its eyes on artificial intelligence. In fact, the AI market is expected to grow into a $190.61 billion industry by 2025. About 38% of workers predict AI will render their skills useless in the next three years, and they fear they will be jobless by then.
We are dealing with AI on an everyday basis. Most of us, unknowingly.
Netflix’s recommendations on what you should watch next? That’s AI.
That “person” you chatted with while inquiring about a product online? That’s AI.
Voice search on your mobile phone? Correct. AI.
Like I said, it’s already in our lives on a regular basis, far more than we realize.
The advancement of AI technologies in recent years is changing the content marketing industry. AI can be used to interact with potential customers, customize social media feeds, analyze data, and predict behaviors, among others.
In a snap, it can also consolidate data to develop a content strategy, suggest what content to create based on trending topics, and even inject search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Ah, that last one makes me imagine AI and Google dancing tango. Aren’t they the perfect combo for content marketing domination? 💃
Since content marketing is my bread and butter, AI has always piqued my curiosity.
In 2017, I published two blogs on Content Marketing Institute (CMI) that looked into content creation using AI. One article focused on content creation robots, and the second piece delved into how to robot-proof your job.
During the same year, I spent $19 to explore what Articoolo, an AI content creator, can do. It gave me this:
“The problem does not put in their ambition to embark on content marketing strategy, the issues come from 3 common areas: the intricacy of the content advertising ecosystem, too little expertise or understanding with content marketing, as well as the technical measurement issues related to how audience consumes content across different devices today.”
Ugh. I quickly realized I wasted that $19.
However, my content marketing hero, Joe Pulizzi, took notice of my CMI blog and left a comment saying that, come 2027, the majority of content will be software-generated.
Inspired by Joe’s musings, I made a point to keep track of what’s happening in the AI world and how it’s going to affect our industry. (Yes, one for the team and for the greater good of humankind.)How will AI affect the content marketing industry in the future (and now)? 🤖 @JuliaEMcCoy explains why she's embracing it and AI writing tools for her team at @ExpWriters 🤝🔛 Click To Tweet
The AI Writing Tools We’ve Tried So Far
AI has come a long way since 2017. It shocks me.
Fast-forward to 2021. I’ve been keeping one eye on AI content creation these past few years. This April, I decided to dip my toes into two AI writing apps. And yes, I’m bringing my whole team in to experience it — after an initial test run that saw writing productivity soar through the roof.
HyperWrite is a recently-launched writing AI by the same investors that jumpstarted Amazon. This technology uses GPT-3 AI.
GPT-3 is the third iteration of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, a language AI developed by OpenAI, a research laboratory backed by Tesla and SpaceX top guy Elon Musk. GPT-3 is an autoregressive language model with 175 billion parameters — about twice as powerful as its predecessor. To simply explain how it works, it’s trained to use its deep learning capabilities and apply them in natural language processing.
HyperWrite set me back $10 to try it for a month, or write roughly 10,000 words on the platform. If you’re using Microsoft Word, I can say that the UI is even simpler. You have a blank slate and AI will do most of the work for you. After giving the AI the prompt to write about “5 Lessons from the 7 Highest-Paid YouTubers”, it took about eight minutes to generate about 800 words.
Here’s a portion of what HyperWrite wrote for me:
“These seven YouTubers are the highest paid, according to Forbes, and each of them has a lesson to teach all aspiring YouTubers.
1. HolaSoyGerman: $7.5 million per year.
GermanGarmendia, known as HolaSoyGerman, has a net worth of $7.5 million. He has an estimated 40 million subscribers, and his channel has over 3 billion views. His videos are not only funny, but they are also educational. He makes a point of creating an identity for himself on YouTube that is completely different from his real life. In fact, he is the first YouTuber to make a video of him opening a door. This video has over 54 million views!
Lesson: do something different in your videos, so you won’t get lost in the mix.”
I checked the output on Copyscape, a plagiarism checker online, and found that it’s 100 percent original.
About a week prior to this exercise on HyperWrite, I asked one of our staff writers to produce a 1,400-word blog covering the same topic about “highest paid YouTubers.”
If you’re curious how AI vs. human writing went down, here’s a quick comparison of their blogs:
The differences are glaring when you compare the outputs. The writing bot, to be fair, came up with a well-written piece, but there were factual errors, repetitive sentences, and a good dose of ambiguity.
The AI was not able to put the right pieces together and picked a YouTuber earning $7.5 million/year while skipping Blippi, a popular YouTuber based in the United States, who’s earning $17.5 million. If you’re a brand and commit this mistake in your content, you will have a ton of headaches and probably dollars washed down the drain.
Human writer: 1. AI writer: 0.
The second tool we’re trying out is Conversion.ai. This one does not write blogs for you like HyperWrite does, but it does generate ideas for you. It, too, wasn’t able to spot the YouTuber with annual earnings of $17 million that our staff writer included.
Just like what Conversion.ai reviews say, its interface is intuitive. You just need to start a new document, give Jarvis some description it can build on, and click “Generate” to see the suggested headlines.
To make the output of Jarvis useful for my team and me, it will take a considerable amount of work and time.
Human writer: 2. AI writer: 0.Human writer: 2. AI writer: 0. Learn what happened when @JuliaEMcCoy took #GPT3 #writing robots 🤖 for a spin: Click To Tweet
Summing up my experience so far, AI cannot replace human writers. This is my firm belief. Here’s why:
- AI can handle tons of data, but content writing is not all about data: AI can easily collect data and process it, but it cannot handle it the same way human writers in the content marketing industry do. At least for now, AI cannot apply the best context to make sense of all the information it gets.
- AI cannot match human creativity: Humans are from the stars and our networks of neurons are far more complicated than any existing computer in the world. Perhaps AI technologies can sort of imagine things now, but not in a way that humans can appreciate.
- AI needs to outpace how humans learn: When GPT first rolled out, it could churn out loads of articles in a day. However, the quality wasn’t on par with the output of human writers. AI is still in the early phases and it must outpace human learning to dominate. However, that might be impossible, considering not everything exists in the digital world. There are human factors you cannot feed into AI.
In short, a dose of the human touch is always needed to make content writing exceptional.AI *cannot* replace human writers, says @JuliaEMcCoy. To make #contentwriting exceptional, you ALWAYS need a heaping dose of the human touch. 🤏🌟 Click To Tweet
However, HyperWrite as a content writing aid is a clear winner for us between these two tools. We plan to keep using it to boost writer productivity and output — with care. Let’s talk more about that. Here’s a graphic representing how we’ve worked it into our process.
Using AI for Content Generation Comes with a Warning Label
A good dose of AI can help you in the content marketing industry, but make sure you read the warning label that comes with it. Too much of it can spell disaster for your writers or your whole content agency.
Just like how Joe Pulizzi sees it, AI proves to be an incredible device for the content industry now and in the years to come. It’s here to complement our work, not replace us. While I wasn’t satisfied with the output of Articoolo in 2017, great strides have been made since in AI writing tools. (See: the results we got from HyperWrite and Conversion.ai.)
While we see improvements in the capabilities of AI to simulate human writing, there are still a ton of issues that need to be addressed.
HyperWrite and other writing AIs are primarily good at crafting shorter content, but struggle to develop decent long-form content. After 800 words for the “highest-earning YouTubers,” I decided to stop. It was just giving me garbage that won’t add value to my content. Here’s an example:
“This blog post could also be used to teach students how to create interesting videos. It could be used to teach students how to think outside of the box. This blog post could also be used to teach students how to use their own unique sense of humor. It could be used to teach students how to create a unique sense of humor. This blog post could…”
Conversion.ai also proved to have issues finding the right facts to use. After feeding it with the initial data to use for a press release, it repeatedly used incorrect facts. It can be frustrating when you’re already giving the AI writing tool the facts to use, but it seemingly ignored the human input.
These errors, if published, are dangerous for brands. Each year, brands spend over $3 billion to deal with damages. Poor writing by humans or AI can lead to bankruptcy and kill brands.
Trust plays an important role during the buying decision process these days, next only to price. It’s important that businesses share correct information because customers may walk away for good if they see wrong information.
Why and How We’re Implementing AI at Express Writers
We can’t deny AI is here to stay. It will affect how content marketing works well into the future. As a team, we need to learn how to use it to our advantage. We need to be a step ahead and use it to improve our processes.
I asked the team to try out these AI writing tools. Our staff writers have the green light with a reminder that these tools are still prone to factual errors, and plagiarism might also be an issue.
I reminded them to enjoy, have fun, and play around with HyperWrite and Conversion.ai. They can send in something the bots wrote and still get paid for it. We have also told our writers that their pay will not be affected even when they use the writing bots to complete their assignments.
Let me share the feedback from some of our content specialists.
Cassie, our writer and editor, tried HyperWrite to produce a long-form article. Here’s her take:
“While this can be a great tool to help jump-start a piece, it is vital to point out (to writers in general) that it still requires the writer to take extra time to edit the curated writing and turn it into something original. I used it for this piece on Mortgage Refinancing and The Bank Prime Loan Rate for the fun of it. This is a topic I’m not 100% familiar with. While it helped me generate a first draft (in the most literal sense of the word), it still required heavy editing, reworking, and research to make sure facts were correct and that I wasn’t creating unoriginal content (thank you, Grammarly plagiarism checker!). Even with a first initial round of edits to make it more readable and give it a human touch, it still came up with a Grammarly plagiarism hit of 19%. Yikes. I think it’s a WONDERFUL tool for generating those first drafts! But writers would need to be held accountable for making necessary changes for readability, originally, etc.”
One of our Level two technical writers, Cornelius, gave the two writing tools a spin. Here’s what he had to say:
“I fed some descriptors into Hyperwrite and then went through each sentence before selecting the ones I thought were best. I then used those individual sentences in Conversion.ai to drive the copy. Between the two I saved hours of intense research time as I could simply verify some of the robot generated content (ironically the blog topic is also about robotics) and then reworked sections to make it flow. In Conversion.ai, I could keep editing and prompting the AI to change track when I didn’t want to proceed down a certain tangent. This was highly technical content, and I did notice some facts weren’t accurate. But once I edited the sentence and gave it some extra reference terms to use, it looks like it was able to find accurate information in seconds. I will probably build an outline in the future which I will feed into Hyperwrite before going to Conversion.ai to finalize the copy.”
The founders of HyperWrite have since built more of these features Cornelius pointed out. Well done, HyperWrite! 👏
Lily, who writes general content, used HyperWrite for her long-form article. She said:
“This is game-changing!!! Thank you!! You changed my entire (professional) life with this information. Literally, I woke up stressed about deadlines. Today (thanks to Julia) I think I requested an extension prematurely. I used it to write the basis, and the rest I wrote (or rewrote) to meet the specific client’s request on voice, tone, and style, and to add specific stats relevant to the piece. Sometimes it needed direction, otherwise, it kept suggesting repetitive content. It cut my work time by nearly 50%. I found no issues with plagiarism. However, I did direct the AI throughout as the article was being created. I am writing general blogs on a subject for which I am quite familiar. I think that helps, because when the AI was wrong I knew it without having to check.”
The AI writing tools are still “learning,” but they can absolutely aid our team in the ideation process. This writing bots are still useful tools to boost productivity and efficiency.
Stepping into the Future with AI
Here’s my fearless forecast – AI will never replace human writers. Not this year and most likely not in 2027 as Joe predicted.
I’m not saying that to push AI aside and protect our writing jobs. Express Writers is built on a foundation of producing the highest-quality content for our own blog and for our clients who are well-respected leaders in their industries.
We will never publish 100% AI-written content. This will never happen, even when a better writing bot rolls out tomorrow. AI simply cannot replace our team of human writers.
However, our team is happy to experiment with how the best GPT-3 AI can give our writers a jumpstart. We want to see how the newest writing software can serve as idea fuel and as tools to help us complete projects faster and further improve the quality of our work. HyperWrite is one we’ll continue to use — the team loves it.
I asked an AI tool to help me close this post. It gave me this:
“Twenty five years ago, I was graduating from high school. I had no idea that…”
Ah. Human writer: 3. AI: 0.
Hasta la vista, baby!