Artificial intelligence is now integrated in our daily lives more than ever before – and it’s a lot more subtle than what you see in films. While AI is not quite capable of committing mass crimes that need to be investigated by detective Will Smith (err…at least I hope), AI today is generating detailed art pieces, and pumping out SEO-optimized blog posts at breakneck speeds.
For individuals, brands, and creators, this means an even more crowded marketplace. How do you stand out in a sea of content?
In this article, we’re going to tackle this tough question by going through:
- How to build a brand and a unique voice
- How to create content that stands out
- How to leverage AI to your advantage while remaining unique
Let’s dive right in.
Own your narrative
AI writing technology today is great at writing short pieces of copy, but not very good at telling stories, or driving a clear narrative. And frankly, when it comes to SEO-optimized content, a lot of humans aren’t very good at this either (oops).
Your ability to craft a story is where your content can shine. This is where writers can learn from journalists, especially borrowing ideas like literary journalism - a reporting style where you utilize engaging stories to report on hard-hitting issues.
Here’s how you can do it:
1. Be clear about your takeaway.
Before you write any piece of content, think about the takeaway. What is the applicable lesson here? Think about the big idea and how it can help your readers in their everyday lives.
Let’s take the classic Aesop fable, the Tortoise and the Hare for example. If you aren’t familiar, the story begins with the tortoise challenging a hare to a race. With the utmost confidence that he will win, the hare takes a nap halfway through the race, only for the tortoise to win by persistently crawling his way through to the finish line.
The takeaway? Slow and steady wins the race. The application is that consistent and reliable growth is much more valuable than expecting to be an overnight success.
2. Resolve a compelling conflict.
A compelling story starts with a hero who receives a call to action. They are tested, enter a compelling conflict, and come out the other end with a win. Just like how Frodo from the Lord of the Rings is given the immense responsibility of destroying the Ring - and saving the world. While the premise is simple, the nuances of his journey are compelling and complex.
Similarly, you can craft your stories by accentuating the conflict and resolving it. If you’re writing a how-to guide, make sure you illustrate the pain point as clearly as possible. If you’re reporting a story, make it clear as to why the reader should care about the issue you’re reporting on.
3. Use real stories
Parables have been central to human communication since the dawn of time. Rather than writing down a series of facts, stories allow other humans to connect with deeper meanings in your work. Real-life stories and examples can help you humanize your work and make you stand out.
If you don’t have personal experiences to share, put on a journalist’s hat and seek them out. Speak to your customers, interview experts, or even borrow stories from the internet - reports, forums, and social media are tools to help you develop them.
Deliver a unique design experience
There’s a reason why people prefer reading on Medium.com over Google Docs. The reading experience isn’t only about the text on the screen, but the visuals that go along with it. Having a strong visual brand identity helps complete the storytelling experience, and evokes emotions supplemental to your writing.
Create a visual identity and invest in designs that will elevate your brand. Ditch the stock images and break up your walls of text by creating:
- Custom gifs
- Designed charts and graphs
- In-depth infographics
- Unique thumbnails
Ultimately, visuals make every piece of content easier to read, more memorable, and more clear.
AI is making visual creation easier than ever before. This image was generated by the AI tool, MidJourney within seconds. We simply typed the prompt: “Corgi in a spacesuit, saving the world, bright.”
Use your own data
AI writing tools are excellent at aggregating and rewording content that is already out there. The unfortunate byproduct of that is the increasing levels of misinformation.
While Google can’t fact check every article out there, you can stand out by being a credible resource. Analyze data like an analyst or gather insights and quotes like a journalist.
Leverage tools like Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or Jotform to create your own surveys. Consider adding incentives when sending out surveys, including an entry to a raffle or a gift card as a reward.
For more in-depth research, here are a few credible resources you can utilize today:
- Google Scholar: For everyone. Includes publicly available scientific journals, research studies, and literature
- eMarketer: Business statistics for marketers, advertisers, and market researchers
- Core: open access scientific research papers
- PLOS:Research papers, studies for students and in-depth scientific research
- Pew Research Center: American research about social issues, demographics, and public opinion
- Statista: Market research and industry statistics for business applications
- Forrester: Market research, technology trends, thought leadership, and business statistics for consultants, marketers, and business leaders.
Build your expertise and reputation
In a world of sameness the biggest differentiator will be your brand. Building your reputation in your niche will be more valuable than ever. AI will not be able to compete with a doctor with decades of field experience.
Here are a few ways you can start:
- Join expert communities in your niche. There are lots of Slack, Facebook, Discord, and Linkedin communities out there for every niche. Look for the most active ones and actively engage in discussions!
Introduce yourself, get involved in conversations, and get to know your fellow community members. Be sure to follow the rules, avoid spamming, and refrain from excessive promotion.
Here are a few ways to discover new communities:
- Disboard or Discord Servers for Discord Communities
- Facebook Group Explore Page
- Slofile for Slack Publish Slack channels
- Linkedin group search
- Aggregate valuable content. If you’re not completely comfortable producing content on your own, you can provide value to your audience by aggregating the latest news, tips, and tricks in a newsletter or a weekly Linkedin post. A great example is the Morning Brew newsletter, which aggregates news about Wall Street and Silicon Valley every morning.
- Run your own mastermind group. Run a virtual meeting of 5-10 of your favorite experts in the space once a month. Discuss your current challenges, and brainstorm ways to help each other out.
- Attend in-person and virtual events. Or even host one on your own. This is an excellent way to build your network in your space and get acquainted with other experts.
- Get featured. Be a guest on podcasts, internet shows, and interviews to build your portfolio. A great place to start is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Daily emails are sent out asking for quotes from experts. You may submit as many as you like and it may land in a prominent publication!
Write for humans: rules are meant to be broken
Great writing isn’t structured like a college thesis. It needs to have rhythm and flow. It doesn’t always follow all the rules you’ve learned in school.
There are three tips that VP of Marketing, Amanda Natividad says you can utilize to be a better writer:
- Use 1 call-to-action: Any more than one, and you'll muddy up your message. Don't be greedy.
- Be absolute: There is no in-between. Copywriting is how you qualify leads. Once people are hooked and willing to learn more, then you can dive into nuance and details.
- Write at a 5th grade reading level: More than half of American adults read at this level. Pro tip: use Himengway editor to determine readability and reading level.
A few more tips from content experts:
- Harry Dry: Avoid dictionary words. Don’t write “converts effectively.” Write “hits the mark” instead.
- Anne Handley: Obsess about voice. It's the one thing no one else can copy.
- Eddie Shleyner: Avoid using “fancy” words in your copywriting. Fancy words are usually big. And a big word will never impress The Reader as much as a big idea, clearly expressed.Good copy, first and foremost, is understood.
- Ross Simmonds: Create once. Distribute forever. When you create a piece of content that is valuable -- Embrace distributing for months to come.
Promote your work in ways robots can’t
Since the advent of language models like GPT-3 and Jurassic-X, experts are predicting that AI-written content will dominate your Google search results - and we see it happening already. However, relying on the search engine to distribute your work is short-sighted. High-quality and shareable content will explode organically - through word of mouth, social media, and email.
Here are a few ways you can distribute your content that AI can’t:
- Convert your blog post into different formats including YouTube videos, Twitter threads, Linkedin carousels
- Quote experts and have them share the piece once you hit publish. Alternatively, consider asking for feedback from other industry professionals.
- Have everyone in your organization share your piece of content. Quote them in the piece as well or incentivize them by entering them in a charity raffle for every share.
- Send out an email to your audience for every newly published post.
Use AI tools to your advantage
Will AI play an important role in the future of content? Absolutely. But the human touch is irreplaceable. People inspire people. People buy from people. People connect with people.
AI may replicate the human experience, but will never be able to create them.
AI tools at this point in time can help you become a better researcher, copywriter, and editor. Especially if you utilize tools like Wordtune as a supplement to your writing, you can produce more content and streamline the process without jeopardizing the quality of your content.