Media Opinion South Africa

AI don't mean to be rude but...

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. It's in phones (hey, Siri), in chatbots, in wearable devices, in surgeries, and now it's making its intelligent way into content. A simple Google search asking if AI is going to replace the humble writer throws up hundreds of results.

From Forbes to Entrepreneur to Medium, there are writers asking experts if their jobs are on the digital line. It’s a fair question. After all, AI is being used to dig through reams of data to produce insights that are changing how brands interact with their customers on multiple levels, so why wouldn’t it be a good replacement for those tired old writers smashing their sad way on keyboards across the land?

Do you want content, or content that engages?

The answer, it turns out, is fairly obvious. While AI is advanced enough to make writing look easy by dint of entering a few words into a text box, it can’t even begin to approach the ability to add the depth of emotion and nuances of language that come standard with a writer’s skill set.

People have emotion, passion and creativity: layers that no algorithm can even begin to mimic. How could an AI look out of a cold window at an icy sky and capture the feeling of wintery bones and shivering skin? It can’t.

It also can’t fully realise the depth of a brand’s tone and style, nor can it translate these concepts into engaging copy that conveys a clear message to the customer. However – and this is where it gets complicated – AI can be useful, and it’s very likely that writers are going to have to get used to its presence in the workplace.

Where AI can help

Take Grammarly, for example, most writers have used it at one point in their career. Most snarl at it with impatient fury. How can their bosses or clients believe an AI-powered tool over their in-built expertise? Thing is, it constantly learns and applies these learnings to its offering so that companies without trusted writing resources can feel relatively confident about their output.

Every adjustment made by Grammarly in the future will be accurate since it incorporates feedback learning into its language processing. Although it isn’t always accurate, business trust in it makes it a very genuine AI resource.

That last sentence was written by Quillbot. It’s a paraphrasing tool that uses AI to help people rewrite content using smart tools and intelligent language optimisation. Could you detect that this wasn’t penned by a pro?

Then there are tools like Rytr. Rytr is a revolutionary AI-powered copywriting tool that can automatically generate content, as well as provide all the tools necessary for high-quality, consistent content generation. It’s designed to be fast and mobile-friendly for busy writers looking for an unfair advantage over the competition.

That last paragraph wasn’t written by a human either.

And where it can’t

These examples are impressive. But it’s very clear that the content is flat and lifeless. The AI can only use what it’s told to use. It takes quite a bit of time for the user to enter in the keywords and the focus of the article they want the AI to write and then what they get out is the same bland, lifeless copy that every other company will have. Zero originality, zero creativity, zero freshness.

As much as AI has skills, it’s not good enough for companies that want content that sparkles and connects. Content that makes customers want to know more about a company and what it has to offer. If your digital speak is purely buzzwords and lingo, customers will put your business into the same bucket as every other company that offers your services.

So, yes, your company can simply outsource content to an AI and get it to write litres of words every day without getting tired of worrying if its output is rubbish. It just won’t be great content. It won’t be content that sings and captures your vision. And it won’t be content that’s customised, curated and tightly polished. It also won’t do anything for your brand.

Content that connects, translates engagement into sales, generates leads, draws a golden thread through your strategy and that puts your business above the crowd will only come from the skill of the word wizard sitting with their hands on the keyboard and their head in their imagination.

About Kate Wolters

Kate Wolters is a director at FlowMesh

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