ChatGPT 101: How to use generative AI to write B2B technology content
Content marketing has always been the job of people, not bots–so how do we go forward with this and what do ChatGPT’s capabilities mean for content marketing managers?
I’m getting so many questions from technology marketers right now about using ChatGPT to write content. Obviously, the world of marketing is in a bit of an uproar right now about the impact of AI technology on content creation.
Like you, I’ve been more than a little curious, so I did some research and tried out using ChatGPT myself.
And so, dear reader, I’ll tell you how it’s going and what I’ve discovered. Then it’s up to you to decide if/how you’ll use it in marketing with your own branded content. Hopefully, I can save you some time or inspire you to improve your productivity at work.
Where there’s a need for research and thinking, we often turn to the internet. The real goldmine with generative AI for us as content creators rests in idea generation, research, and developing initial rough drafts–with some important (and necessary to note) caveats.
In this article, I’ll introduce writing with ChatGPT and discuss some ways I think writers can work with ChatGPT to create articles. Stay tuned for a follow-up piece later about how to use ChatGPT for content planning and idea generation.
Content marketing with ChatGPT
Content’s value rests in relevance with our audiences, which means we’re always working to understand them better. Your prospects, customers, and circle of influence in your industry. Content marketing supports your authority in your industry by demonstrating what you know. You can also use content to provide education and influence conversations.
This all requires research, and thinking. A lot of thinking.
AI can help us write by augmenting our knowledge work as creators with information from the internet. We can feed the AI initial ideas that are then developed with support from artificial intelligence into more meaningful, detailed content that would otherwise take too long to create by-hand.
Is ChatGPT a writing assistant?
Here’s what I think. ChatGPT is a great writing assistant if your niche has lots of great quality content online, and if you are prepared to invest the time and apply the right techniques to using generative AI correctly.
In other words:
- Know ChatGPT’s limitations
- Focus on relevance and accuracy
- Supplement human writing with AI support
- Use ChatGPT best practices
- Find out if ChatGPT makes sense for you
The bottom line–look at AI’s capabilities, apply them to your use case, test, then get feedback. Just like you’d approach any new technology or software you use in your day job.
In that sense, you have better preparation and training for using AI than you might think. If you’ve supervised another writer, there are some similarities there to lean into. As long as you don’t expect a perfect, finished, ready-to-publish product from generative AI, you have a decent amount of latitude in using ChatGPT in your writing.
By the way, writing this piece is something I couldn’t trust to ChatGPT, but I COULD use ChatGPT prompts in particular ways to help with coming up with ideas and background research. You can too, which could potentially be a valuable resource for you as you go to write your articles, freeing you for the more strategic work of content planning and positioning.
Know ChatGPT’s limitations
As a machine learning model, ChatGPT is trained with large amounts of data. Specifically, text data from the internet. ChatGPT knows how to create grammatically correct, on-topic sentences and paragraphs, and is capable of articulating ideas. Ultimately, these ideas are based on internet research, which ChatGPT can perform quickly and at scale before synthesizing this information together and presenting it in response to prompts.
The results are some fairly impressive, realistic communications that are amazingly human-like, although often somewhat limited stylistically. ChatGPT can’t (yet) capture the full nuance of human writing.
You should consider other ChatGPT limitations, too. Generative AI doesn’t have a full grasp of human ethics, creativity, or appreciation for the human experience itself. Machines aren’t alive.
Focus on relevance and accuracy
Because ChatGPT has these limitations, you don’t always get accurate and relevant results when you provide a prompt. You, the marketer, must ensure your content is relevant for your audience and contains accurate information. These two facets are always important to the world of content marketing if you want readers to care and use your content, but they’re particularly true when someone else, including a machine, is involved in the content process.
Whenever you outsource any part of content production, you still retain responsibility for protecting your reputation and building your authority. Only you (or only your team) can work in your brand’s best interests. Trust no one. Or trust but verify.
And always go back to ask “why” and get to the point.
Supplement human writing with AI support
One of the biggest ways I think ChatGPT really shines with content marketing is in helping you quickly come up with iterations in your phrasing, explanations, style, and word choice. For copywriting, this is huge. And for infusing your writing with more personality and pizzaz, this is really helpful for getting those first few “bad drafts” out of the way while you brainstorm a more memorable or effective phrasing.
In this sense, you’re powering your writing with AI assistance, rather than completely outsourcing all of the writing to AI.
Example ChatGPT writing techniques
Although I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to write with an AI assistant, let’s have some fun and look at a few basics.
Hold on to your hat…
AI could be your new copywriting partner. If you’ve ever experienced writer’s block, you know it’s especially painful when you’re looking for something interesting and appealing to say in your copywriting.
Using ChatGPT, you can quickly come up with multiple ways of saying the same thing, which speeds up your brainstorming process. Good copywriters can probably glance at AI-provided phrases and almost immediately come up with better writing–but that’s a good thing, not a technological weakness of the AI.
Let’s try it.
Next time you need a title, interesting subheadings, or want to rephrase a sentence, put ChatGPT to work.
For example, I’ll ask ChatGPT for SEO-friendly alternatives to a well-ranked article title I pulled from the first page of Google results for “reasons why kubernetes.”
Email marketing copy
I suspect SDRs and B2B salespeople are thrilled to experiment with ChatGPT right now, because you can really have some fun with basic email marketing templates and generative AI variations.
Find some email templates online and ask ChatGPT to generate a new template for you, and you can mix it up with your own copywriting. AI will get the boring, uncool email out of the way so you can jazz it up with your more interesting, personality-infused copywriting, if that’s what your prospects are into.
Why not write extra versions and do some more A/B testing while you’re at it?
Gathering background research
When you go to write an article, you can use open-ended questions as prompts to start your research–just like you would Google something. Immediately, assuming you get a response that’s accurate and relevant, you have: 1) a quick intro if you’re unfamiliar with the concept(s), 2) other terms or words to research, 3) a better idea of the context. From there, you’d use that research to further develop your topic depending on your audience and your goals. Depending on the subject, finding this information could take a long time.
For example, if you’re writing an article about penetration testing, you’ll probably conduct some research even if you’re already fairly familiar with what it is and what it means.
ChatGPT is skilled at creating summaries.
To use this approach, simply copy-paste blocks of text directly while asking the AI to create a summary. You could provide additional context for ChatGPT or other instructions to ensure you get a higher quality response.
This skill can save you time when you’re summarizing text for your content, or you can use a summary to help you identify important ideas in the text. ChatGPT can even help you with creating content from SME interview transcripts.
For instance, taking a transcript from a recorded subject matter expert interview, you can copy a passage of the text and paste it into the ChatGPT prompt:
“Please write a summary of this text: [paste transcript]”
Create show notes for your podcast, write an outline of your SME interview, and more. I’ve even had some success with summarizing confusing dialogue into more digestible content this way.
(Important note: always verify ChatGPT summaries against the original transcript, just in case inaccuracies show up. You want to be really careful with quotes!)
Use ChatGPT best practices
We talked earlier about a few ways to use ChatGPT in your writing process, but the most important thing to remember isn’t specific techniques, but rather best practices. The way you use AI is the difference between wasting your time and improving your content marketing productivity.
Using an AI writer the right way saves you time, provides better results, and improves your writing.
- First, think about your writing process. Think about how you think through your writing process, what tasks you can automate, and what tasks require a human writer.
- Serve your audience. You may have great information in that AI response, but it may need different packaging in order to fit your brand, reach your audience where they are, or be relevant enough. AI writing could be completely on-target with the right facts and explanations but miss the mark anyway if the result doesn’t serve your readers.
- Approach AI writing ready to learn. With ChatGPT, you have a beneficial tool that can help you as long as you’re eager to use it effectively and learn more about how to partner with generative AI.
- Be prepared to experiment often. One of the best ways to learn how ChatGPT can help is through simple trial and error. Test different types of prompts, provide different levels of detail, include different requirements in your requests.
- Restate and paraphrase ChatGPT responses. Usually, you’ll probably be rewriting and editing whatever generative AI creates. This creates better writing, helps you catch inaccuracies, and puts you in control of the style and personality. As an editor and writer, I’m also always thinking through alternative language and phrasing as I read–this exercises my writing ‘muscle’ and practices my writing skills.
- In other words, put on your editor hat. Grammar is probably great, so focus on developmental editing while thinking about your audience, arguments, brand voice, and goals.
- Verify data, figures, and sources. Think like a journalist and you’ll be much safer when you use research provided by bots. Generative AI, trained to provide the information you want, could invent facts that aren’t true, make up sources, or misquote books and articles. Just as you would with a wiki-style resource, be sure to independently verify data and research presented by ChatGPT. Use your judgement on what requires verification–well-known facts such as Earth orbiting the sun are easy enough to check, but don’t necessarily count on medical information to be true.
- Start with AI, end with a human touch. In general, your writing is probably best served by using AI to begin your research or write initial first drafts, then move on through an editing and refining process.
This isn’t exhaustive, of course, and we’re just getting started on writing alongside AI, but these eight best practices should help you begin creating value with ChatGPT content writing. As you learn through experimentation, you’ll find more, and I hope you’ll consider sharing them with me!
Find out if ChatGPT makes sense for you
From conversations with other content marketers, I suspect ChatGPT isn’t as effective for every niche or industry as it might be for technology.
Long-time technologists know that there’s an old tradition in the world of open source and software development where hackers and coders help each other out through their technical challenges. That spirit took flight with the growth of the internet, resulting in a vast online multiverse of software documentation, walkthroughs, and how-to guides.
Many software engineers today spent their childhoods playing with HTML sandboxes, writing snippets of code for homebrew Linux distros, and reading open source documentation.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of that on the internet, and so much more every day.
Generative AI that can help you tap into this knowledgebase, if tech’s your wheelhouse, is super helpful. But maybe if you’re outside of the B2B tech space or don’t write content that’s a bit technical, you won’t find generative AI as helpful for now. The internet’s coverage of your topics could be too limited or rehashed.
So, you’ll probably just have to try it out.
Can ChatGPT write articles?
ChatGPT is good, but it’s not human, so it has a few limitations. Based on those limitations, it’s not ready to completely replace your brain or that of any other human writer.
Short answer: no.
It’s still no, although I will hesitantly admit that I had to think more carefully about my answer today than I have with older iterations of generative AI.
ChatGPT’s capabilities aren’t quite ready for “please write an article on how Zero Trust principles protect Kubernetes environment security.” At least, not without some editing and supervision, which is what you should do very carefully and thoughtfully if you decide to author complete content with help from the AI language model.
Outsourcing content is nothing new, but outsourcing writing to an AI really is. Like many of you, I have tried in the past using AI directly to write articles, with some interesting and hilarious results.
Before ChatGPT, the content was too terrible to use. It was worth a few laughs, but really nothing more. The articles were so funny I shared them around with my writer friends for weeks, then I canceled my subscription, because it wasn’t worth $20 a month.
As you can see in the screenshot above, asking ChatGPT for an article on Kubernetes and Zero Trust actually gives a decent result–likely because the internet is awash with Kubernetes content, providing plenty of training material and easy-to-use background information for the AI.
Now, this could be the starting point for an article, or could help me understand what questions readers might have about Kubernetes. You could take this draft and interview a SME at your company to add some real meat to the article. I’d avoid publishing as-is.
The dangers of using ChatGPT to write
Of course, the world of business is full of risks, and marketing is a risky world for business people. Writing on behalf of a brand and speaking for your organization creates business risk, which is compounded by the risks you introduce when you turn to AI for help.
Here are a few of the biggest threats to your business:
- Boring and irrelevant content
These are nothing to sniff at, and they should scare you into using generative AI with care, but you can generally prepare for and mitigate these risks.
Here’s what you should know.
AI is great, but it’s not God. You can’t guarantee right now that anything ChatGPT gives you is 100% true. As a marketer, this should scare you just a little bit. Your brand and your reputation are valuable and difficult to repair once they’re broken.
Before you assume anything ChatGPT gives you is true, you should verify it independently.
Common sense dictates that this is particularly true for situations where information may be relied upon in life-threatening, mission-critical situations.
Right now, ChatGPT developers claim the AI language model has limited knowledge after 2021–that’s because of the training data.
Considering that limitation, you should be careful using ChatGPT to research bleeding edge, new information and events. The software may not have access to complete information from 2022 and 2023. Anything newer, and you may want to verify that information yourself, especially before you publish it.
With the AI doing your research and thinking for you, you’re trusting ChatGPT’s model to provide you with unbiased information. The problem with that is humans are biased, by nature. Humans created the internet, which means the data and information available to ChatGPT has inherent biases that may not be eliminated through the software’s programming.
Wait, wouldn’t that make biased humans worse and machines better at being objective? Not so fast.
We’ve created AI in our image.
As the creators of ChatGPT, humanity trained generative AI with what we know, think, love, and hate.
If you’ve ever visited one of the internet’s finest cesspools, you know this is a potential drawback for your work. ChatGPT can dredge up the worst of the internet along with the best, and the difference between the two may not always be readily apparent, perhaps especially if the AI presents you with information that confirms popular biases.
Think about political issues, discussions around gender, race, sexuality, and big controversies of our time. Fake news is another thing.
Machines really aren’t equipped to deal with human issues, even with the best programming. An AI is no replacement for your values and your ability to grasp social conversations. Keep this in mind–it may impact what research, idea generation, and tasks you’re willing to trust AI with, at least for the time being. Humans are better at this right now.
Boring and irrelevant content
Yes, you can inadvertently create content that’s more boring and irrelevant with AI–which you definitely want to avoid.
Relying on ChatGPT to write articles directly without guidance, editing, and appropriate planning runs the very real risk of generating content that’s almost identical to other content on the internet. Instead of creating unique content your audience can use, your writing could lack the creativity and unique contributions necessary to provide enduring value for your readers.
Your article could look like 100 others, and not in a good way.
How ChatGPT helps with content marketing
There are tasks that can be more tedious for human writers. So using generative AI as a writing partner can be helpful, IMHO, if done correctly.
Continuously coming up new ideas is tough work, or at least research-intensive work. Online research is also time-consuming. And the actual task of writing those first ideas down on paper sometimes results in writer’s block, even (or especially?) for professional writers.
An effective writing assistant could ameliorate some of these issues and make writing more fun and accessible.
And for that reason, I’m cautiously optimistic about ChatGPT and content marketing.
I hope this helped. (Because I’m human, after all, and if I can’t make the world a better place, I’ll be replaced by a robot eventually.) If it did, please let me know and remember to share it with your friends. Cheers!