How to beat ChatGPT and the new wave of Content Shock

beat chatgpt

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nine years since I wrote a well-known blog post called Content Shock. For the uninitiated, this post predicted that when business niches overflow with useful, high-quality content, a never-ending content arms race results. For many businesses, competing would become increasingly expensive, and content marketing would not be a sustainable strategy.

100 percent human contentProposing that there were limits to content marketing was considered scandalous at the time, but undoubtedly, it was true, and “Content Shock” became a well-known term in the industry.

But look where we are today!

With the introduction of ChatGPT and other AI platforms, the cost of creating content has been reduced to almost nothing, the quality has matched or surpassed the abilities of many creators, and a tsunami of new content is rising.

Here are examples of the new wave of Content Shock:

  • A science fiction magazine now receives so many AI-generated stories that it stopped taking submissions.
  • Amazon is overwhelmed with new ChatGPT book submissions. One author “wrote” a 119-page novella in a day and claimed he would write 300 books in a year. Amazon Direct Publishing is so swamped it is increasing its costs for a self-published book for the first time in a decade.
  • And it’s not just written content flooding the market. There are now AI-generated podcasts, movies, and music.

While the purists maintain that you’ll still need a human at the AI controls, I say pshaw. And that is so fun to say, I will say it again. Pshaw! Harvard’s Nieman Lab reports AI can create independent journalistic reports from public meetings, which requires an appreciation of human politics, history, and subtleties of language.

The world is changing so rapidly that AI content will soon be indistinguishable from human content in almost any category you can imagine.

So what do creators do about it? How do we beat ChatGPT so we can survive and thrive? Is there hope? The answer is yes, and it is straightforward.

Drinking from the ocean

When I wrote “Content Shock,” the world was a reservoir of content growing deeper month by month. As the number of blog posts, podcasts, videos, and other forms of content escalated, the reservoir turned into a sea, and the sea became an ocean extending as far as we could see.

The scale of this competition might seem intimidating or depressing, but it’s not, because the problem has always been the same. Whether you’re trying to drink from a lake or an ocean, there’s still too much water!

Whether the world has a million blog posts or a billion blog posts, there are still far too many blog posts.

By the way, this is not a modern problem. The Library of Alexandria, founded around 300 B.C., contained the equivalent of 100,000 books. That’s a lot, even for a fast reader.

Still, if you’re a creator just starting out today, the amount of content in the ChatGPT Era must seem like a major hurdle to success. It is. And there is only one solution: Focus on the 20% ChatGPT can’t touch.

The 20 percent solution

beat chatgpt

When ChatGPT arrived on the scene, I turned to my friend Shelly Palmer for his perspective. Shelly is one of the most famous tech analysts in the world. He has blogged nearly every day for 15 years.

“It’s terrifying,” he told me. “ChatGPT can basically do most of my blogging for me. I’m 80 percent replaced.”

I almost fell out of my chair with this proclamation. I mean, if Shelly Palmer was shaken, shouldn’t we all be concerned?

And yet, Shelly isn’t worried about AI and has enthusiastically embraced the technology. His popularity is as high as it has ever been. He has not been replaced. He won’t be replaced. He doesn’t have to beat ChatGPT. The solution to transcending the threat of AI lies in the “20 percent.”

Shelly said he is “80 percent” replaced.

But what is that 20 percent?

It’s his personal brand.

Over the past 30 years, Shelly has worked tirelessly to become “known.” He is a trusted and beloved resource in his profession.

Ironically, the personal brand will become even more powerful in the AI Era. We’re on the cusp of an age of massive disinformation that could pose an existential threat to our society. We need trusted resources more than ever to help us discern the truth.

And that points to the only solution I know of, the only option to beat ChatGPT and transcend the existential threat of AI. You MUST establish an effective personal brand. YOU must matter.

The personal brand

No matter the level of Content Shock in the world, your job as a creator or marketer has always been the same: earn the right to your own audience, just like Shelly. I hope this is comforting. Regardless of ChatGPT or whatever comes after ChatGPT, there is still a clear path to compete and thrive.

I’m not worried about my place in the changing world because I have an emotional connection with you. You read this blog because you know me, trust me, and like my ideas. Some of you have been reading this blog for many years and will continue to do so no matter what happens with AI.

Some time ago, I received a nice email from a reader: “I start my day with you,” she wrote. “I get a cup of coffee and open my email to see what you’ve written today.”

I have become part of the fabric of her life.

I won’t have to beat ChatGPT or any other content-creating threat to earn her support.

My personal brand will save me. It can save you too. In fact, it is the ONLY thing that can protect you in an environment where important life skills like writing, editing, and even consulting are commoditized.

If you have still not taken your personal brand seriously, you must. As far as I know, this is literally the only insurance policy we have, the only way we can beat ChatGPT and the AI platforms nipping at our heels.

Further Personal Branding Resources

  • I’ve been studying and writing about the patterns of personal branding for many years. You can find a trove of free content here.
  • I wrote the bestselling book on personal branding, a book called KNOWN. It also has an accompanying workbook that can be used with teams.
  • Responding to popular demand, I offer a live, online course that includes 1:1 coaching from me. While the path to an effective personal brand isn’t complicated, it’s not easy, and I’ve found that people thrive with personal coaching.

Mark Schaefer marketing predctionsMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak at your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram.

Illustration created with MidJourney

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