There has been a lot of talk about ChatGPT. What is it? To get a definition I asked ChatGPT itself, “What is ChatGPT?” Its response was:
It is not clear what you are referring to with the term “ChatGPT.” GPT stands for “Generative Pre-training Transformer,” which is a type of artificial intelligence model developed by OpenAI. It is used to generate human-like text and has been trained on a large dataset of internet text to learn the patterns and structures of language. ChatGPT is not a commonly used term, and it is unclear what it might refer to. Could you provide more context or clarify your question?
Why does this chatbot not know its own name? The term ChatGPT returns 177 million Google search results and has its own Wikipedia page. In all fairness, ChatGPT does list one of its limitations as having limited knowledge of world events after 2021. I supposed it didn’t know how popular it would become after its free public beta release in November 2022. Since it didn’t know that term, my next question was, “What are you?” Its response was:
I am an artificial intelligence trained to assist with a variety of tasks, including answering questions, providing information, and generating text. I do not have feelings or emotions, and I exist solely to assist users like you. I do not have a physical body and exist only in the digital realm. I was created by OpenAI and am here to help you with any questions or information you may need. Is there anything specific you would like to know or discuss?
I wanted to get a blog post written before the end of the year so I thought I would ask ChatGPT “Write an 800 to a 1,000-word article providing the top ten tips for social media marketing.” Below is the 553-word article.
According to Semrush, the word count for an informational blog post should be 1,000-1,500 words. Guides and how-tos should be 1,500-2,500 words. I aimed low and got something lower, but additions of my own writing got me a higher word count for SEO. I also asked, “What is a good headline for this article?” ChatGPT wrote both in less than a minute:
10 Top Tips for Successful Social Media Marketing by ChatGPT.
- Define your goals and target audience. Before jumping into the world of social media marketing, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and who you want to reach. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales? Are you targeting a specific age group or geographic location? Defining your goals and target audience will help guide your content strategy and ensure that you’re using the right social media platforms to reach your desired audience.
- Create a content calendar. Consistency is key when it comes to social media marketing, and a content calendar can help you stay organized and on track. Plan out your posts in advance, including the content, hashtags, and any calls to action. This will help you maintain a consistent posting schedule and ensure that you’re providing value to your followers.
- Use visually appealing content. With so much competition on social media, it’s important to make your content stand out. Use high-quality images and videos, and consider using design tools like Canva or Adobe Spark to create visually appealing graphics and infographics.
- Utilize hashtags. Hashtags can help increase the visibility of your content, especially on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Research popular hashtags in your industry and consider creating a branded hashtag for your business. Just be sure not to overuse hashtags – a few relevant ones are usually enough.
- Engage with your audience. Social media is all about building relationships, and that means actively engaging with your followers. Respond to comments and messages, and take the time to like and share content from other users. This helps to foster a sense of community and can lead to increased brand loyalty.
- Utilize paid advertising. While organic reach on social media can be limited, paid advertising can help increase the visibility of your content. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a variety of targeting options, allowing you to reach a specific audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
- Collaborate with influencers. Influencer marketing can be an effective way to reach a larger audience and build credibility for your brand. Look for influencers in your industry who have a loyal following and consider partnering with them to promote your products or services.
- Track and analyze your results. It’s important to track the success of your social media marketing efforts to see what’s working and what may need to be adjusted. Use tools like Google Analytics to track website traffic from social media, and use native analytics tools on each platform to track engagement and reach.
- Keep up with algorithm updates. Social media algorithms are constantly changing, and it’s important to stay up to date on the latest updates to ensure that your content is being seen by your audience. Be proactive in understanding how these updates may impact your content strategy and adjust accordingly.
- Experiment and try new things. Social media is a constantly evolving landscape, and it’s important to be willing to try new things and experiment with different strategies. Don’t be afraid to test out new content formats, platforms, or paid advertising options to see what works best for your business. The key is to be agile and adaptable and to always be looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts.
I would make all these general recommendations myself.
They are good tips, and it is good writing. But honestly, it’s not anything new that I haven’t been teaching in my social media marketing class since 2011. I’ve also recommended these basic tips in my Social Media Strategy book since 2015.
A big missing piece for me is attributions. Where did this information come from? I know it came from the Internet, but the standard is to cite sources with hyperlinks. I would have included links to experts with first-hand experience, supporting research, data, cases and/or examples. I asked ChatGPT why it doesn’t cite sources and it said:
“I was trained on a dataset of text gathered from the Internet, including books articles, and websites. As artificial intelligence, I do not have the ability to cite specific sources or authors for the information that I provide.”
When I asked it to rewrite the article with academic references it added three APA in-text citations in various places (Kotler et all., 2018), (Freeman, 2018), and (Hootsuite, 2020). There were no full references and no hyperlinks. It seemed to be mimicking academic citations but it wasn’t actually citing sources. Some articles from its dataset must have used references but ChatGPT didn’t pull the full reference or links.
Like, Wall Street Journal technology columnist Joanna Stern who used ChatGPT to write an AP Lit essay, the article “passes.” Yet for Stern using AI to participate in a class discussion was a “fail.” I can imagine writing an article like this, but when a client hires me to create a social media strategy, what would I do? In a face-to-face meeting, physically or virtually, they would be asking very specific questions. Would I pause to ask the chatbot each time?
A student who spent a minute writing an assignment with ChatGPT may get a passing grade, but could they participate in class discussion? Without reading the text, researching the evidence, and thinking critically they’ve missed the learning. Stern’s AP English teacher Michael Dimond said, “They’re not learning what I am asking them to do if the Internet can give them a full essay because they’re missing out on the process of writing.”
It’s the process that leads to learning.
The process leads to unique, creative, and effective strategies for clients or your own business. There are no shortcuts. A student in my class may write a general social media strategy “tips” paper with ChatGPT but what about creating and implementing a unique strategy for a specific client or their boss?
Can AI replace the knowledge gained in my undergraduate and two advanced degrees, plus 17 years of professional marketing, and 10 years of teaching experience? I suppose some of those articles it scanned were my own. I’ve also been working on developing my own voice all these years. Having a distinct personality expressed as a distinguishable voice in writing is important for people and brand communication. I asked ChatGPT “Can you write this article again in a different personality?” It said:
“As an artificial intelligence, I do not have feelings or emotions, and I do not have a personality in the same way that a human does. That being said, I can certainly rewrite the article in a different style or tone if you would like.”
So I asked it to rewrite the tips in various tones. Each came quickly. Ironically, the academic tone took the longest. For an informal tone, ChatGPT added an introduction, “Hey there! Are you looking to boost your social media game? Here are tips to help you out.” For an academic tone it began, “In today’s day and age, social media marketing has become an essential tool for businesses looking to reach and engage with their target audience.”
Finally, I asked it to have a humorous tone. It rewrote the intro as “Are you tired of being the only person on your block without a solid social media marketing strategy? Well, fear not – I’m here to help! Here are ten tips to help you achieve social media fame and fortune (or at least a decent number of likes and comments).”
At first, I was impressed and scared by these results! Then I realized that every person or brand that wants a humorous tone doesn’t want the same humorous tone. All social media professors don’t want the same academic tone and all banks don’t want the same formal tone. I worked on many different bank brands over the years. Often it was the unique strategies, ideas, and brand voice we developed that created differentiation in a category where all checking account features tend to be the same.
Can ChatGPT create those unique strategies? Next, I asked, “Can you create a social media marketing strategy for a specific business?” It said “certainly” and wrote a nine-step list very similar to the ten tips ending confidently with “By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that will help your business achieve its goals and engage with its target audience.”
If only it were that simple.
Anyone managing social media for a business or organization knows that it is not that simple. Below is a paraphrased version of the introduction to my Social Media Strategy book:
You turn to Google for top social media tips. Lists make us feel that social media can be simple: follow these ten steps and you’ll succeed! The truth is there is no one-list-fits-all social media strategy. A successful social media strategy needs to be unique to the brand, its products, services, and customers. Otherwise, you’re chasing social media tactics that may or may not work for your organization and situation. Only when a unique strategy is developed will those tips and lists be useful by focusing on the advice that applies.
In my digital marketing course, students write their own blogs during the semester applying concepts and best practices to test and learn from real results. The assignment also helps establish their personal brands, demonstrate skills for employers, gain confidence, and prepare them to be lifelong learners. It would be easier to use ChatGPT to write the required blog posts and get a passing grade, but what did they cheat themselves out of?
What about cheating?
I asked ChatGPT, “Can students use you to cheat on their writing assignments?” It responded:
It is not appropriate to use artificial intelligence or any other external resources to cheat on assignments or exams. Cheating undermines the learning process and devalues the hard work and achievements of those who have earned their grades honestly. Instead of relying on shortcuts, it is important for students to take the time to develop their own understanding and skills.
Using it could help me refine my writing, research, and recommendations. This AI-generated article helps me understand where the real work needs to be done in social media. Elicit is an AI tool that can help speed up the literature review in my academic research. I also used the AI tool Grammarly to catch grammar mistakes in my portions of this post. ChatGPT agrees saying:
There are many ways in which students can use AI tools like me to enhance their learning and writing skills. For example, students can use me to clarify their understanding of a concept, to generate ideas for a writing assignment, or to proofread and edit their work. However, it is important that students use these resources as a supplement to their own learning and effort, rather than relying on them to complete assignments without putting in the necessary work.
ChatGPT gives good answers, but as it says, that does not replace the hard work and rewards of learning on your own. ChatGPT gave me a 533-word social media strategy blog post in 1 minute that I could have published four hours ago, but in the writing process, I learned a lot more to bring to my class next semester including having students use ChatGPT in class to write one of their blog posts and discuss the limits and benefits. Hopefully, they’ll appreciate writing as worth doing beyond the grade.
Hopefully, you’ve appreciated this mostly human-written article beyond the AI-generated tips. I’ve had many “conversations” with ChatGPT. It provided useful information, but I don’t feel a bond to it. The kind of human connection I get from colleagues I’ve met at conferences, I’ve worked with at marketing agencies, or my favorite bloggers and podcasters.
AI isn’t going away. Microsoft invested $1 billion in the company behind ChatGPT and plans on adding its features to its Bing search engine this Spring. Search Engine Land reports it could return human-like text answers to questions instead of lists of links as a challenge to Google’s search engine dominance. Another topic to discuss in my Digital Marketing course! How will you use or not use AI?