Is content marketing finally dead?
On the advent of AI writing and what it means for content marketing
Last month, my friend and former boss, Paras Chopra, tweeted this.
Now this is obviously him thinking about and responding to ChatGPT and how content marketing is at a crossroads. And it certainly is. Any way I state how the world of content has changed will not do justice to how fundamentally the foundations have shifted.
For the first time, thinking can be outsourced. Because what is writing if not thinking? It’s just a little bit of thinking, sure, and you have to prompt, but it’s still thinking. And a machine is going to do it.
We are on the cusp of a dramatic shift in the world, no doubt.
But at the ground level, does this mean that, finally, content marketing is dead?
I’m not sure.
Let me explain.
First, content writing is often confused with content marketing. This is an easy mistake to make, because text is the language of the internet, and the importance of SEO means that writing is the basis of all digital marketing.
But content marketers will only be happy to tell you that in the last 5 years, writing has become less and less important. Videos and podcasts are now indelible parts of the marketing stable, and the rise of the creator/influencer economy also means that there are unlimited avenues to create content and grow your brand. Social media’s native mediums, like short videos on TikTok, are their own forms, and are also part of the larger content marketing umbrella.
Sure, you can argue that a lot of these things need to start as text, which is true. But to say that content marketing is dead implies that all this is not marketing, which is obviously untrue.
Second, the role of the content marketer shifted a while ago. It is not just about producing content, it is about strategy, it is about positioning, it is about brand, and it is definitely about distribution.
The best articulation of this came from Dave Gerhardt a while ago, where he said he saw himself as the editor of the company’s marketing. That struck me enough that I remember it now, and it is how I think about the content marketer’s brief. Production is a small part of what a content marketer is supposed to do today. It’s just one skill. The rest of it is packaging, positioning, and distribution. All of them are equally important, and perhaps distribution even more so, now that the production part has become easier.
Paras acknowledges this line of argument himself, but for coding.
Third, and my final point, is that even as the tools become more and more cutting edge, the role of the storyteller, the creative who understands what story needs to be told about the brand, becomes more and more important. AI will take care of the how, maybe, but the answer to the question of why still needs to be arrived at, still needs to be articulated, still needs to be disseminated.
A huge part of why a lot of us were drawn to marketing in the first place is the pull of creating - an idea, a message, a story, a brand - and then making it something larger than us.
AI can’t take that from us, yet.