Excerpt / Guest post via Michael Semer
What you’ll learn:
- How AI-generated B2B content threatens marketing performance
- What the key factors to keep in mind
- How to maintain content marketing success versus your competitors
There’s an oncoming flood of AI-generated B2B content. How can a company rise above this potentially cataclysmic tide of craptent to deliver B2B content that still ranks and performs?
If you’re not sure this deluge is on the way, consider this:
- Concern is already rising rapidly about the copyright, ethical, and business ramifications of AI-generated content.
- There are more providers now hyping how their platforms can grind out AI-generated content that can dodge detection as being AI-authored by Google and other search engines.
AI-Generated B2B Content
Meet the new mill, not the same as the old mill.
Content mills, where legions of low-paid scribblers churned out legions of content, were the bane of true content marketing professionals back a decade or so ago. Why?
Because the content was invariably of poor to middling (at best) quality, designed to capture eyeballs through sheer weight of presence. Google’s response? The Panda update, though it not only took aim at content farms but also collaterally hurt rankings for non-farm-sourced blogs and sites.
Chat GTP and its brethren are the heirs to the content mills. Like those old mills, we’ve already seen some of the problems that come with relying on mass production techniques: Actual inaccuracy in content, a certain blandified sameness to the output, not to mention how some marketers will become lazier about quality so long as they’re seeing better SEO (at lower cost) than previously.
The problem is that many of these marketers will happily open the virtual floodgates and focus on quantity, not quality, in published content in pursuit of SEO. But when you’re seeing a rising tide of me-too content that’s scarcely differentiated in quality and educational value (because it’s all being similarly scraped from the same webwide sources)?
That horde of automated also-rans could very well drag down the performance of a content program that’s actually committed to quality and originality.
Sidebar: There are lots of unresolved issues about inadvertent (if that term can apply to AI) plagiarism and copyright. If a well-known celebrity doctor can get nailed for copying others’ homework, what reputational damage could a company endure from an AI copyscraping or appropriating concepts and ideas without attribution?
Key factors in staying content competitive
Let’s lay out a few best practices to follow at a moment like this, when many content marketers might not be sure of how to proceed…or find themselves tempted toward the Dark Side, where they’re willing to abdicate an irresponsible amount of content development to AI and machine learning tools.
What can a B2B content marketer do to ride high above the AI-generated content tide?
USE AI AS A TOOL, BUT NOT A SUBSTITUTE
AI-generated content isn’t going away. And don’t mistake what I’m saying: I’m not a Luddite when it comes to leveraging any system that will enable content creators to deliver more and better content more efficiently. Generative content AI platforms should be a part of your forward planning because A) you’ll be able to published higher-quality content with greater frequency, and B) your competitors are going to be using them.
The issue is when AI is seen as a substitute for human editorial and strategic skills. Any experienced content director or editor can probably share horror stories about the poor-ass content they’ve received from human writers that needed a ruthless rewrite. Without experienced gatekeeping, shoddy content will get released into the wild.
The same holds true if a content draft has been researched and packaged by an AI: Human editors with insight and skill still must be the ones to take it the last mile to publication.
DO WHAT AI CAN’T (YET) DO
There are valuable content assets, particularly in B2B content marketing, that require a high degree of very apparent human touch. What are some of them?
- Thought leadership content: If you’re a B2B content consumer who needs insights and material that will help you make critical, enterprise-impacting decisions, do you want it to have been created exclusively by AI? Doubtful. Having a human stamp, and human judgment and expertise, reflected in thought leadership pieces, whether blogs, white papers, or webinars, is essential to it being valid and valuable to your audience.
- Case studies and testimonials: Same here; your customers won’t like having a chatbot conduct an interview, though they don’t have to know if you’re using AI to do a first draft.t
- Instructional and technical content: “How-tos” and procedural content absolutely must have eyes-on from human experts to avoid the risks of an AI making mistakes.
- Videos: You might use an AI to string together an initial cut, but the way to differentiate your video from the AI-generated competition? Have people front and center who are speaking with authority, expertise, humor…with the human qualities, in other words, that audiences and prospects will want to connect with.
This is also notably true when it comes to research. “But wait!” you might say, “isnt’ the point to spare my content team from the time and effort involved in doing research?” Sure – to a point. An AI will find sources that other AIs will also be crawling, so the final content won’t be too different from what others are developing.
Real research that possesses value is, first and foremost, original, reflecting work your company has done to unearth new insights. Or else it drills down deeper by surfacing the kind of facts, anecdotes, or uncommon yet valid perspectives a machine would never be capable of spying out.
DO AS GOOGLE WOULD HAVE US DO
If that sounds Biblical, so be it: Google’s pronouncements about what content creators need to know about its 2022 “helpful content update” are clear about how to craft content that will smiled upon and blessed by the Algorithmallmighty.
The main two points? Content should have a “people-first focus,” delivering a satisfying experience for the content consumer. Basically, do all the good things that make a content asset stand out as superior and valuable for your audience.
The second point? Don’t create content for search engines. Observing SEO best practices is fine, but it shouldn’t dictate the topics, length, or format of your content, which should reflect expertise and a concern for the consumer’s needs.
Content should have a “people-first focus,” delivering a satisfying experience for the content consumer.