When I first saw this article on automated content creation in my inbox, I scoffed. I’ve seen automated content and, while it may satisfy the bots, it certainly doesn’t satisfy most readers. No computer can compete with an actual human being.
But then I read the article, and I admittedly started to feel a bit anxious. The technology being created has come a long way, and although it still lacks the contextual quality that a trained writer can bring to an assignment, it’s gaining momentum.
So what does that mean for us content creators? We started Content Writers Group because we believe in the power of words: to inspire action, to inspire confidence, to inspire conversation. We believe that journalists, who have traditionally been our storytellers, are uniquely skilled at both writing and researching content that feeds minds.
But are we simply entering a business destined to be taken over by bots? Especially when businesses can pay an automation company (or a company that automates a portion of the content creation) which charges a fraction of the price?
Content marketing briefly elevated the role of the writer after decades of marketing execs dismissing insightful writing in favour of snappy headlines. In the late 20th century, ‘people didn’t read’ and ‘pictures spoke a thousand words’ and TV advertising was king. But online platforms and social sharing changed all that, and now writers are the influencers, creating content that informs and educates consumers. Better yet, analytics allowed us to demonstrate the return on that investment.
But we all know that the goal in marketing is about maximizing your dollar invested — and with that comes challenges to reduce costs. Rising to that challenge isn’t a bad thing — it’s inspired a lot of innovative new technologies in design, photography, illustration, print production and web development. I have to admit that some of the ways writing has been automated aren’t necessarily bad, especially the platforms that can package data-driven reports in seconds instead of weeks.
Bots write to satisfy the bots. Writers write to satisfy readers. Understanding the difference is critical when you want to implement a content-driven strategy that positions you as an expert. In some cases — particularly when you’re looking to earn a ranking and need volume — content generated by bots may be the ideal route. But in the cases when your writing needs to compel, that’s when you need a real, professional writer — ideally a writer skilled to ask the questions your reader doesn’t even know they have and answer them in a way that makes it easy for your reader to understand.
My hope is that automation will eventually result in process automation, so more time can be devoted to investing in quality writing. In fact, that’s one reason we’ve been developing our editorial content application — to take some of the administration out of the creative content generation process, so that the focus can be placed on creating content that is meaningful, well researched and well read.
Good writing is a skill. So is researching and interviewing. When it’s done well, it pays off in a readership that’s inspired.