Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since just before Christmas, it’s likely you’ve heard of ChatGPT: the generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chat-Bot that, in January this year, acquired a million daily users in just five days.
(By comparison, it took Facebook 10 months to reach this milestone).
So what is ChatGPT, and why is it a big deal for small businesses?
ChatGPT: the benefits
The main draw of ChatGPT is its ability to produce a long-form piece of content in a few seconds, based on prompts that you feed it. Given that the average blog piece takes around four hours to write manually, it’s easy to see why this is so appealing.
AI writing tools are not new: Jasper and Grammarly have been around for a few years. What ChatGPT offers, however, is the ability to remember what you have already asked, and build on the conversation. You could prompt it for a bullet point list of five ways to use social media to help with your new business, and in your next prompt, to provide more detail and specific examples based on point three. You could then ask it to create a series of tweets, each one focusing on a specific point. And so on. It’s incredibly versatile.
The conversational style makes the tool very easy to use – it’s a similar experience to using a chat bot on a company’s website, except that its answers are much more specific and detailed, drawing from a vast repository of sources.
ChatGPT: the drawbacks
As attractive as these features may sound, however, there are drawbacks too.
It can’t tell fact from fiction
The GPT technology used by ChatGPT and Google’s new competitor Bard, works by recognising patterns in language and replicating these patterns in the text it produces. However, it can’t analyse the text for accuracy: so if enough of its sources misreport something, it will simply repeat this misinformation in the content it produces.
An error in an ad for Bard attributed the first pictures taken of an exoplanet outside our solar system to the James Webb Space Telescope. In fact, they were taken by a different telescope. A mistake like this might seem innocent enough – even if it wiped $100bn off Google’s share price – but what if it were an article giving health advice, or reporting the news?
Outputs tend to be generic
Even ChatGPT’s biggest fans will admit that it doesn’t produce the best quality text. While grammatically correct, sentences tend to be repetitive and unvaried, and it’s difficult to capture a specific tone of voice.
Most content produced by ChatGPT will need a human editor to bring it to life before it’s published.
Google may not want to rank AI content
Even though Google is launching a similar product, there’s no guarantee that its search engine will look favourably on AI-generated content. Google Search operates on the principles of E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust.
It’s difficult to see how an AI that essentially regurgitates existing content can produce something with strong enough E-E-A-T to outperform the pieces it’s drawn from.
Should I use ChatGPT or not?
The fact is, AI-generated content isn’t going away, and future versions of ChatGPT and other tools will be even better. It’s already a helpful tool for research, idea generation, and helping to structure or summarise content.
Just be careful about going “all in” as it stands. Its drawbacks are significant enough that we wouldn’t recommend just copying and pasting ChatGPT content onto your website or social channels without thoroughly checking and adapting it first.
Good advice is to ‘use it as an input, not an output’ – using what it gives you as the starting point for your own creative writing and marketing messages, rather than just using the output as given without improving on it. Remember that it’s written by an algorithm, and often lacks personality, colour, and relevant examples – and don’t forget that ChatGPT knows nothing of the world since beyond 2021.
Treat it like any other business tool: use it only to the extent that it’s helpful. For many small business owners, it will hugely improve the speed at which content is created. For content specialists (such as expert marketeers or PR advisors) it’s unlikely to take their jobs – just yet!
For more help with AI or any aspect of your digital marketing, get booked onto one of our Artificial Intelligence for Small Business webinars, or talk to our team.