Authentic. The word has captured the public’s interest – so much so that Merriam-Webster named it 2023’s Word of the Year as many searched for its *true* meaning. Celebrity culture and social media are behind some of the newfound interest, but a driving factor is the rise of generative AI.
Merriam-Webster perfectly captured the connection between AI and a focus on authenticity: “And with the rise of artificial intelligence . . . the line between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ has become increasingly blurred.”
This fuzzy line has brought content marketers to somewhat of a threshold. Generative AI is both a shiny new tool that can boost productivity and even creativity, but it can also put your brand’s authenticity at risk if you rely on it too much. As content marketing executives and managers navigate this new landscape, many find themselves trying to master this delicate balancing act.
Trust: The Foundation of B2B Marketing
Eighty-five percent of B2B buyers are likely to recommend a company to their colleagues if they trust that company. Yet only 45% are likely to make that recommendation without that trust factor in place. These numbers make sense when you give it some thought. B2B buyers are making a purchase for their organization. A smart investment will reflect well on them, but a purchase that simply doesn’t deliver can hurt their reputation (or worse).
It’s normal for decision-makers to favor companies and brands they truly trust. Content marketing teams have a responsibility to help build that trust by producing consistent, accurate, and authentic content.
Ah, there’s that word again – authentic. What exactly does ‘authentic’ mean when it comes to B2B content marketing? We’ve given this a lot of thought at Version A, largely because it’s our company mission.
Our goal is to develop content that is true to each client’s:
By focusing on these elements, we’re able to craft content that is unique and fits the personality of the brand. The end result is authentic, market-ready content that helps our clients build credibility and trust.
Generative AI: Ensuring Authenticity
As generative AI continues to evolve and mature, content marketing managers must grapple with how best to use this technology. Like any other advancement, it can bring a lot to the table when used well. For example, content marketers can use generative AI to:
- Generate ideas for content campaigns
- Suggest topics of interest for key buyer personas
- Create alternate headlines for increased engagement
- Summarize transcripts or interviews needed to produce content
The list goes on. When used for these kinds of tasks, AI can boost productivity and creativity within your team. Ideally, you can produce more content in less time.
The danger, however, arises when you rely on AI too much. It may be tempting to let AI write entire pieces of content for your team. At quick glance, the copy may look decent. On closer inspection, however, you’re likely to find a number of things that need to be addressed. Some of the most common issues that can arise are:
- Inaccurate or outdated facts and/or statistics
- Broken links to external sources
- Overly wordy or confusing language
- Inaccurate tone and/or style
- Lack of key messaging points
In other words, copy that’s purely AI-generated is often missing the key elements of authentic content.
The Right Balance: A Blended Approach
Forward-thinking content marketing leaders know they need to embrace generative AI, just like they have with prior technological advancements. The key is to strike the right balance between AI and your team to produce more content in less time without sacrificing quality or authenticity.
We’re still mastering this ourselves, but we have a few tips to share that we’ve learned along the way.
Know your strengths – of your team and of AI. As just discussed, AI has strengths and weaknesses. So do all of the people on your team. Use AI for the tasks it’s good at – and stop there. Otherwise, you risk wasting time having to fix errors or restart items all together. The same goes for your team. Some may be better at working with generative AI tools, while others are best suited for strategic planning, editing, or infusing your authentic voice into every piece. Let people (and AI) focus on what they do best, and the overall productivity and quality of content marketing copy will increase.
Master the art of prompt engineering. One thing we’ve learned about generative AI is that you get back what you put in. A prompt that lacks structure, clarity, and detail won’t produce the results you want. Be prepared to take time to learn how to write high-quality prompts and train the AI to understand what you’re looking for. You may even want to invest in training some of your team in this area. Effective prompt generation won’t come overnight, but as your team improves, so will the output.
Remember there’s no substitute for a human. You wouldn’t publish something written by someone on your team without carefully reviewing it. The same detailed human review should be conducted for anything generated by AI – even if you’ve mastered prompt generation. There are likely to be small errors here and there that should be corrected. This is also your opportunity to make sure the content matches your tone, style, and voice. Is the messaging on point and consistent with other pieces? Is there something unique and compelling in the piece to make people want to read it? Bottom line: Only a human can make the final call on whether a piece of content is truly authentic to your brand.
Creating authentic content in an age when it’s easier than ever to produce content that’s “good enough” has created new challenges for content marketing teams. Those that succeed will rise above by embracing technologies like AI without losing sight of the need for a critical human eye. With the right balance in place, you can win the trust of your audience with truly authentic content they’ll keep coming back for time and again.