Content AI's Surprising Dangers for B2B Content Marketing
Content AI's Surprising Dangers for B2B Content Marketing

Key takeaways:

A lot of B2B content marketing professionals have been waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) content generation: The arrival of a well-funded and tantalizingly capable platform that would find rapid adoption. One that even grabs headlines across mainstream media.

Not even two months before this writing, nobody had heard of ChatGPT.  One open-access demo later?  Its early investor Microsoft is already reportedly ponying up a bucketload of billions to integrate its capabilities into Bing.

The secret sauce? The provider, OpenAI, did a powerhouse job of marketing an impressive open demo to content professionals and other potential users.  Content strategists practically did back-flips, while the platform ramped up to a million users practically overnight.

ChatGPT took the digital world by storm, and “storm” is the right word for it. Plenty of disquiet has sprung up among content creators, academics, and other observers about its potential for abuse.

Ironically, a top AI conference has even instituted a ban on ChatGPT and similar large-scale language models (LLMs) for composing academic papers.

AI-created content is nothing new

What many may not realize is that AI has already proven its worth as a content generation tool for many companies over the years, including news organizations like AP and the Washington Post.  These platforms have been used to create rote content ranging from financial statements to obituaries to chatbots. ChatGTP has just broadened the game by making far more of us aware of the possibilities.

So, there’s a huge potential upside to the use of AI platforms in helping to generate B2B content marketing assets.  As pundits sound off about how ChatGPT and other AIs will “revolutionize” content creation, B2B content marketers have to bear in mind there are dangers to becoming too reliant, too fast on content AI authoring.

The dangers of AI authorship in B2B content marketing

Here’s a good reason to be careful about becoming too dependent on content AI generators: Google says it will penalize content it finds to have been “AI plagiarized” (whatever that ultimately means).  But we can expect Google will install further safeguards in accordance with its focus on the authoritativeness of content.

Google needs to stay as useful as possible for users, meaning it must search out content that satisfies search intent. Underlying that position?  Google wants to impede competition from Bing and Microsoft, among others. If you’re using an AI platform site to search up B2B content marketing topics and links (or to write your copy outright), you’re not on Google getting an eyeful of Google ads.

What are other risks you’re running with AI-authored B2B content marketing assets?

  • Superficiality, due to AIs all churning out topline content based on what resources are available instead of intuitively digging for more obscure but relevant, inside-baseball-type sources and insights.
  • Lack of differentiation as multiple AIs used by different B2B content marketers are generating reams and reams of content against the same keywords or topics, resulting in sameness in substance and style among them all.
  • Reputational and retention damage: If you’re posting content that’s been AI-generated, especially for SEO purposes, it’s very likely going to look very much like the content your visitors see from competitors.  But your targets are looking for originality, insight, education, and – let’s never forget – evidence of your passion and customer-centric focus.  Yet when they just get “more of the same,” they’ll bounce and not come back.
  • SERP damage: See the earlier Google comments.  Using an AI platform for search takes business away from Google, so they’re going to penalize AIs (unless it’s their own), especially as all these me-too posts and pages won’t deliver the “authority” Google is crawling after, and Google users are searching for.
  • Creative morale and recruitment issues: Sure, an AI might allow an organization to seemingly dispense with quite so many in-house or external writers and designers.  However, we’re in an age where talent has leverage when it comes to where they’ll work, a top creative professional isn’t likely to onboard with an employer who has shown a preference for AI over human authorship.

I recently had a client tell me they’d quintupled site traffic through better SEO, including a lot of SEO content, but their MQLs had declined.  Why?  Because when their targets came to the site, all they saw was a maze of SEO content that was baseline and keyword-centric, not exhibiting any sort of insight, POV, or thought leadership.

Yet you’ve got to have those if you’re gonna retain those eyeballs.  AI may make it easier to deliver more content that’s better optimized, but will it succeed at convincing your targets to become handraisers?

Put guardrails in place to properly leverage AI content creation

To make AI-generated content really succeed in your B2B content marketing efforts, it’s advisable to put some guardrails in place.  We’d suggest those include:

  • View AI as a tool for enhancing human capabilities, not as a substitute. In our recent e-book, we explained how AI can do great things, but it can’t replace the intuition and imagination of a human team.  So it’s best to use it in a hybrid content development process model, where AI and people can combine their abilities to lift a B2B content marketing effort to new heights.
  • Maintain qualified human content professionals in place whose job it is to manage, initiate, review and edit all content assets generated by an AI to ensure they possess originality, insight, real relevance, and brand voice.
  • Screen all content to make certain it’s truly compelling and engaging for the targeted audience. An AI will not (at least not yet!) be able to display the sort of precise, empathetic understanding of reader pain points or interests that only a human being can provide.
  • Present recognizable or idiosyncratic human voices as often as possible within content, even with their tics and faults. This is especially important when it comes to in-depth subject matter expertise that’s purportedly coming from an “expert.”
  • AI-generated content should never carry a byline unless it’s been mainly written or edited by a human being, especially if that person is supposed to be a thought leader or SME.

Develop an AI content maturity model

We point out to clients that many companies rushing toward the AI content pot o’gold don’t really give thought to how these platforms can really impact their operations.  But that knowledge is vital in extracting maximum value from that investment.

As with any technology adoption process, it’s crucial to know where you currently stand in terms of digital transformation and how you’ll deploy and employ a tool like AI, so you can have a roadmap toward increased expertise and functionality.

Our suggestion? Build an AI Content Maturity Model based on the example here to clearly understand where you stand and how far you’ve got to go.

AI has already proven its worth as a content publishing tool for many companies over the years; ChatGTP has elevated awareness of that to new levels.

Build an AI Content Maturity Model to clearly understand where you stand and how far you’ve got to go.