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  • Writer's pictureScott Murray

Humanize AI Content: Resist the Craze, Keep the Connection

I recently watched two 80s movies again - Back to the Future II and Can't Buy Me Love.

Both had some amusing ideas about the future that didn't come to pass.

In Can't Buy Me Love, high schoolers Ronald Miller and Cindy Mancini were looking at the moon with a telescope. He said, "By the time I'm my dad's age...people will be living there and working."

Mmm. Maybe when you reach your great grandfather's age.

In Back to the Future II, Marty and Jennifer burst into 2015 and enter a freeway of flying cars!

We don't have those yet (and that's probably a good thing in many ways). A bigger disappointment for me is the lack of a Cafe 80s.

AI has been in the movies for years, and it looks like it will be a big part of our reality in 2024. So, it's not that surprising that businesses are really excited about the high-tech opportunities.

With that technology, George McFly could've used ChatGPT to write his notes for Lorraine.

The downside would be that ChatGPT would likely have written something she's heard 100 times.

That's the downside for the marketers who overuse AI technology in 2024.

Since AI will take a more dominant role over content marketing, marketers would be wise to know where to draw the lines.

And you don't have to take my word for it. You'll find several experts who agree.

Among the 67 marketing trends for 2024 provided by The Content Marketing Institute, several experts acknowledged that AI would be a big deal. Still, several of them remind marketers to ensure they don't let it take over the humanity consumers desperately need and demand.

Some of the expert advice told marketers:

  • Consumers will be actively judging whether the content is AI-generated or uniquely genuine.

  • Consumers will continue to seek out messages and communications that sound like people.

  • Consumers crave humanity and stories - not just content.

  • Marketers will get help from AI, but it can't handle content without their help.

  • Marketers need to remember nothing will replace the heart, emotion and relatability of people.

  • Marketers need to remember their competition has the same tools they're using.

  • Marketers need to find ways to stand out in the floods of repetitive AI content.

  • Marketers need to be more consumer-focused as Google optimizes search results.

It has to be realized that while AI will change a lot in marketers' lives in 2024, it won't change everything. And if you're a marketer serious about connecting with your human audiences next year, you don't want it to change everything.

You'll want to find ways to humanize AI content.

What AI Won't and Shouldn't Change About Content Marketing

"What's going to change in the next ten years?"

He said he is rarely asked a much more important question, which is:

"What's not going to change in the next ten years?"

Despite the ways AI can change marketing, one thing that won't change is consumer, prospect, and other audience demands for humanized communications from brands.

In 2019, Forrester noticed a rising demand for humanized communication.

The only thing that was changing was what brand characteristics were interpreted as human. Here's how some perceived human brand characteristics changed from 2018 to 2019.

Examples of consumer demands humanized marketing

It's not hard to see how "friendly" is a better human characteristic than "social." Then there's "reassuring" over "helpful." Considering how AI-generated clickbait can mislead someone into thinking something is "helpful," some humanized reassurance would improve chances for connection.

More recently. you've likely read a lot about the critical importance of learning how to humanize marketing to meet these demands and interpretations. AI won't change this trend.

Despite the ways AI can change marketing, one thing that won't change is consumer, prospect, and other critical audience demands for humanized communications from brands.

No matter how much technology evolves or makes things "easier" for the brand or marketer, how people seek out, interpret, judge and react to communications or messaging won't change.

It will need to be recognizably human.

The Dangers of AI in Marketing

We've seen movies where the human obsession with technology can lead to our demise. The premise might cause people to ask, "How could humans LET that happen?"

Or the better question might be - "What kind of humans would let that happen?"

As technology has become a more significant part of our lives in the last 20 years, it has caused many people to think about the dangers of letting it all get out of hand. Whether it's texting harming the ability to communicate effectively or concerns about arming robots, we should always keep our technology hype in check.

While an obsession with AI creating content may not create a ChatGPT terminator or lead to the demise of humanity, it can destroy a business's capability to be human.

What would it say about an organization that is totally comfortable letting AI and technology take over the critical communications and content supposedly designed to connect with their most essential humans (or audiences)?

Why would the humans in that organization let that happen?

👎🏻 They could have a "company benefit-first" content philosophy

👎🏻 They might value quantity over quality

👎🏻 They might think a machine is better at communicating with its audience

👎🏻 They may overlook the risks while rushing to implement new technology

It wouldn't be the first time new technologies created challenges with a company-first mindset. Over time, keyword-stuffing, content spamming and link-building tactics designed to game the system began to backfire on those companies.

Organizations like Google and social media platforms started to penalize and minimize their impact because they damaged the potential for real value to the consumer. Not to mention, as consumers become aware of selfish marketing content, they adapt and find ways to ignore or block it.

One of the predictions featured in that Content Marketing Institute article came from Marcus Sheridan, who warned that consumers will create a "BS-Meter" alert designed to determine whether a brand is using AI for their own benefit.

Or, as Mark Schaefer put it, they'll try to determine whether a brand crossed the Milli Vanilli line.

And just like the steps taken to make sure brands weren't dehumanizing keywords or link strategies, companies like Amazon Kindle and YouTube are already taking steps to help consumers optimize their AI-focused BS meter.

Finding the Balance Between Humans and AI in Marketing

Before ChatGPT and other AI tools set our industry ablaze, brands were already struggling to evolve their copy, content, and messaging to be more humanized.

Now, everyone's talking about a tool that can expedite content tasks, but the threat of failing to humanize still exists.

AI cannot fix that.

As Forbes points out, AI cannot replace several of the work of humans, including:

  • Create slogans rooted in deep understanding

  • Create ads that leverage empathy

  • Build relationships through active listening

  • Tell stories that resonate

  • Compete with human originality

However, I'm not suggesting marketers avoid using AI in their content marketing strategies.

✅ I'm saying don't let it override your humanity at a time when the need for human connection is at an all-time high.

I'm saying if there was ever a clear way to differentiate your brand in digital spaces filled with clutter, don't add to it with AI-generated clutter.

In other words - find balance.

Some marketers are already finding ways to strike that balance. In Orbit Media's 2023 blogger survey, respondents showed great examples of finding balance.

For blogs, most people were using AI for tasks like:

  • Generate ideas

  • Write headlines

  • Write outlines

  • Suggest edits

Meanwhile, 35% of respondents weren't using AI at all.

At the same time, the challenge of evolving content to be more humanized can remain, especially for small businesses with limited resources, a one-person marketing team, or newly hired AI-skilled copywriters.

That's where Andi Robinson and Ryan Brock's CMI expert predictions come in.

👉🏻 Andi expects companies to prioritize establishing specialized content teams that could reallocate resources from traditional marketing teams due to the significance of comprehensive end-to-end content functions.

👉🏻 Ryan expects companies to seek out individual thought leaders to help them stand out as they deal with the algorithm changes from Google and repetitive content created by the same AI tools.

These thought leaders or specialized team members will likely have a strong understanding of fields like psychology, behavioral science, consumer trends, or communication.

My 20-year career in content marketing has always had an unrelenting focus on the impact of humanized communication on the hearts, minds and behaviors of consumers.

If I can help you create or evolve your content in our humanized marketing era, let's schedule some time to talk!


For more insight on the humanized communication and AI marketing predictions, check out this episode of The Marketing Superpower Hour!


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