Navigating the Future of Content Creation Ethical and Strategic Approaches to AI

Navigating the Future of Content Creation: Ethical and Strategic Approaches to AI

Is there such a thing as taking an ethical approach to AI in content creation? The argument isn’t new, but we must think strategically. Why? Because AI isn’t going anywhere. But, there are consequences to using AI to generate content exclusively.

On March 4th, we posted about such consequences on LinkedIn:

📢 𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐮𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐈-𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭?

We based that post on the scandal CNET is currently facing because of its choice to experiment with posting only AI-generated content.

The Risks of Google Penalties From AI Content Creation

There’s a lot of coverage about Google not penalizing AI-generated content, but using it still carries risks.

Google’s documentation states, “Appropriate use of AI or automation is not against our guidelines. This means it’s not used to generate content primarily to manipulate search rankings, which is against our spam policies.”

It’s tempting to automate the entire process – from ideation to finished draft.

That’s where the problem is – more often than not, the content AI generates doesn’t follow Google’s guidelines for helpful content.

Understanding Google’s Guidelines

Google’s “Helpful Content Update” in September 2023 marked a shift in focus from “content written by people” to “content created for people.” What does this mean?

  • Goal: Reward content that users find useful, helpful, and informative.
  • Process: Google uses machine learning to identify unhelpful content.
  • Results: A site with a lot of unhelpful content is less likely to rank well, even if it still has some helpful content.
  • Remedies: Following a self-assessment of your site’s content, you can remove what seems unhelpful. If Google signals your site as unhelpful, it may be removed if the content improves.

Speaking of AI content not ranking well, Neil Patel shared some insights about that on Twitter/X. He writes, “We found that 94.12% of the time human written content outranked AI-created content.”

💡 Action item: Familiarize yourself with Google’s “Helpful Content Update” and self-assess your site’s content. Based on this understanding, remove unhelpful AI-generated content.

Navigating the Risks with AI Content Creation

Here’s how to use AI content tools responsibly and avoid potential penalties:

  • Prioritize the “human touch” when writing and editing: AI-generated content is a starting point, not a finished product. Meticulously fact-check, edit for clarity and coherence, and ensure everything aligns with your brand’s tone of voice and target audience.
  • Originality and value: Avoid rephrasing existing content or relying solely on AI to generate content. Ensure your content offers original insights and valuable information and addresses specific pain points.
  • Transparency isn’t optional: Don’t attempt to pass off AI-generated content as solely human-written. Transparency builds trust and avoids potential ethical concerns.

💡 Action item: Implement a rigorous review process for AI-generated content. Prioritize editing for clarity, brand voice alignment, and originality to ensure all content adds value and is tailored to your audience.

The Mediocrity of AI-Generated Content Creation

I think we all can agree that what AI produces isn’t that great. It lacks human emotion because, obviously, robots do all the work. In an essay for Time, Ray Nayler writes, “AI thrives when our need for originality is low, and our demand for mediocrity is high.”

AI can’t create content that “shows” and not just “tells.” While many may consider this golden rule only for fiction writing, that isn’t always true. Non-fiction writing, which is the backbone of content creation, involves storytelling. Here are some examples:

🚫 Tell: Dry Statements That Lack Emotion

We constantly met with our previous content firm to discuss content creation concerns. No one on the team liked these meetings. That wasn’t the case when we switched to nDash, though. Within weeks, we saw the value of the partnership.

✅ Show: The Use of a Quote Featuring Descriptions

“With our previous content firm, the head content managers were constantly meeting to discuss the best way to bring up our recurring concerns — concerns about consistency, quality, timeliness, and an overall lack of communication. We’d have to build each other up to have these uncomfortable conversations. That was a night and day experience compared to the support we received from nDash. Virtually overnight, nDash helped us develop an easy workflow that delivered immediate value. Within a matter of weeks, our frustration around content virtually disappeared. It was a completely different experience,” said Michael Kaisin-Morin, former Senior Managing Editor at Ask Media Group.

🚫 Tell: Statements That Tell Only Part of the Story

Readers like the content because it’s unique, and, as a result, that drives engagement.

✅ Show: The Use of a Quote That Tells the Entire Story

Rhianmor Thomas, Hexagon’s Content Specialist, explains, “The content has a very humanized tone…where our customers will still find it interesting and not feel like information is just being regurgitated to them.”

💡 Action item: Evaluate your current content strategy. Are you relying too much on AI for content creation? Commit to enhancing AI-generated content with human emotion and storytelling to truly engage your audience.

Brand-Building Challenges with AI Content Creation

Brand-building centers around building and maintaining trust with your current and prospective customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling products or services — it all boils down to trust. If your audience feels like you’re just throwing information at them for the sake of conversions, they’ll click away.

Kerry-anne Wright, Content and Research Manager at Digitalloft writes, “Your communications could lack consistency with your brand’s image if they are solely produced by AI tools or even a mix of AI and human-generated content. Recognizable features of your brand are watered down, which could lead to confusion among your customers and a dilution of the all-important brand image.”

Generic, formulaic content created by AI can easily miss the mark, failing to meet your target audience’s expectations and ultimately diluting your brand’s identity. Additionally, audiences may perceive AI-generated content as impersonal or lacking authenticity, potentially leading to a decline in trust.

Maintaining Brand Identity with AI

Is it possible to maintain brand identity with AI content creation?

The short answer – a cautious, “Yes.” (Or a genuine “Maybe.”)

It’s possible to preserve your unique voice and brand identity with AI if – and only if – there’s human touch. If you’re “setting it and forgetting it,” that’ll hurt your brand in the long run.

Here are some key strategies to ensure your brand maintains a human touch in digital communications, even when using AI:

  • Focus on human-centric storytelling: Convey the brand’s values and mission through compelling stories and anecdotes that connect emotionally. (i.e., the show, don’t tell examples above)
  • Prioritize human review and editing: Ensure humans carefully review and edit all AI-generated content to maintain brand voice, accuracy, and quality. Doing so prevents publishing AI hallucinations.
  • Use human expertise for strategic content creation: Leverage human creativity and insights for content pieces such as blog posts, social media captions, and marketing campaigns.
  • Be transparent about AI usage: Being upfront with your audience builds trust and demonstrates confidence in your brand’s overall communication strategy.

💡 Action item: Develop a checklist for brand consistency in AI-generated content. Include human-centric storytelling, editorial oversight, and strategic content creation in your AI content creation workflows.

Success Stories: AI Integration Without Losing the Human Touch

George Bradt shares his thoughts in a Forbes article, The Human Touch: Unleashing Competitive Advantage in the Ages of Artificial Intelligence. He writes, “The human touch differentiates businesses based on judgment and decision-making, creativity, innovation and agility, and emotional intelligence and empathy.”

Whenever I think of brands using AI, my brain automatically goes to written content. However, there are other ways brands can use AI to generate content beyond writing. Here are examples of brands using AI to generate content that preserves their identity and connects with their audience.

  • Grammarly: Despite relying on AI, Grammarly maintains a human touch by offering different writing styles tailored to various audiences and purposes.
  • Dollar Shave Club: This subscription-based grooming service leverages AI for personalized product recommendations and targeted email marketing. However, their marketing campaigns still retain their signature humor and human touch through quirky characters and engaging storytelling.
  • Spotify: In an announcement last year, this web player rolled out its new AI DJ that curates personalized playlists. It does so by maintaining its brand association with music exploration and discovery.
  • The New York Times: According to The Verge, a recent hire, Zach Seward, posted on Threads that the publication plans to use these tools “to help with reporting and how the Times is presented to readers.”

💡 Action item: Seek inspiration from successful brands using AI content. Identify how you can incorporate AI into your content strategy without sacrificing your unique brand identity and human touch.

Commercial Value of AI-Generated Traffic

While AI-powered content creation offers impressive speed and scale, its true worth lies in its ability to drive business success. Beyond just generating traffic, we must analyze its conversion rates and engagement levels.

An article published by McKinsey & Company states, “Our research found that 90% of commercial leaders expect to utilize gen AI solutions ‘often’ over the next two years.”

Analyzing Traffic Quality and Conversion Rates

Not all traffic is created equal. AI-generated content can attract a large audience, but the key question is: are they the right audience for your business? High-quality, targeted content will attract genuinely interested users to your product or service, leading to higher conversion rates.

Consider the following:

  • Engagement: Does the AI-generated content resonate with your audience? Are they spending time on your site, interacting with your content, and clicking on your desired call to action (CTA)? Tools like website analytics can provide valuable insights into user behavior.
  • Conversions: Your content marketing strategy’s success is measured by its ability to convert visitors into new leads or paying customers. Track key metrics like form submissions, product purchases, and sign-ups to assess the effectiveness of your AI-generated content.

💡 Action item: Use analytics tools to analyze the performance of your AI-generated content. Focus on engagement and conversion metrics to assess the quality of traffic and tweak your strategy accordingly.

Strategic Content Creation for Business Objectives

Remember – AI is a tool, not a strategy. Its true value lies in aligning your content creation efforts with your specific business objectives.

Here’s how to avoid the pitfall of prioritizing quantity over quality:

  • Define your goals: What do you hope to achieve? Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate new leads, or drive sales?
  • Know your audience: Who are you trying to reach? Understanding your target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points will help you create content they can connect with.
  • Maintain brand consistency: AI-generated content should seamlessly integrate with your overall branding and messaging. Ensure the content reflects your brand voice, tone, and values.

💡 Action item: Revisit your content marketing strategy. Ensure it’s aligned with your business objectives, understands your audience, and maintains brand consistency, even when integrating AI-generated content.

The Future of Content Creation: A Balanced Approach

The benefit of streamlining many parts of the content creation process with AI is undeniable. The key is remembering that it’s a tool, not a replacement for human creativity and expertise. Creating valuable content involves prioritizing:

  • Quality over quantity
  • A human touch over automation
  • Strategic objectives over short-term gains

This strategy allows you to create content that fosters trust and drives sustainable success.