The Problems Automated Content Will (and Won't) Solve

June 06, 2018

Automated content can save marketers time in the content creation process, but it can also appear inauthentic.

Automated content has the potential to serve as a useful tool for marketers, but there are also some limitations.

As a tool, automated content allows marketers to finish their content-related tasks faster so they are free to devote more time on bigger and more important projects.

However, content that is automated tends to turn out more generic and impersonal and fails to engage with an audience of real human beings. At its worst, content that is completely automated without any human oversight before being published creates PR nightmares.

In my experience as managing director of a marketing agency, I’ve found that it’s important to prepare your business to take advantage of what automated content offers, but you must avoid losing the human connection between you and your audience.

Automated Content Creation: Big Time Saver, Bigger Risks

There are some big pros and equally big cons when it comes to an automated program creating your content.

Automated Content Pros

The biggest pro for automated content is that producing content yourself can take a lot of time, so the automated programs save you the time you would spend writing the content yourself.

For example, with Article Generator Pro (AGP), all you have to do is enter your topic, word length, and a mix of other parameters to define the type or tone of article you want, and within a minute it will automatically formulate a full article on that topic.

AGP seems to be the most sophisticated, and you can see all the different ways you can customize your article idea before having the tool write it for you.

Article Generator Pro

The benefit is you have the ability to use automated content creation tools to quickly provide you with the framework of a solid article.

It can save you the time you would use to research the information for the article and then write it into a similar draft.

Every industry is constantly working toward more efficiency, and for content creators, these automated tools are the next big step toward that.

Automated Content Cons

The biggest con of automated content is that it still requires careful oversight by real people to catch problems that automated programs can produce.

There are several little reasons for this, but it mostly comes down to the language and grammar the tool uses and a lack of real depth.

So, in addition to paying for the tool to write the article for you, you'd still need someone to go through the article to make sure you catch and fix all these issues.

The other limitation you won't see in this preview is the lack of depth of articles these tools produce. Cooking stir-fry is a general and popular enough topic that these tools can develop a nice and short article around 500 words without major issues.

But what if you try a more advanced topic or want a more in-depth article at 1,000 to 2,000 words? The tools are either unable to even do that, or those little problems shown above become far more numerous and obvious.

It is also very difficult for these tools to write forward-thinking articles that predict future trends because they are programmed to contextualize and share established facts. Their imagination is still limited.

When these tools reach their limitations, it becomes more obvious that a machine or program generated the content.

For example, Articoolo tried generating an article on laws related to trees – it didn’t make much sense.

Articoolo

At best, people will be turned off of this article for such poorly worded phrases and sentences and for not making much sense.

At worst, they might guess or believe that it was created by a program — and that is something people tend not to trust or like.

This is especially pronounced among younger generations such as millennials, who tend to dislike inauthentic content and marketing. They trust content they think a fellow human being has written.

Social Media Bot Cons

Another type of automated content is social media bots. Having an automated tool that independently posts on social media and responds to people might save untold amounts of time.

However, these tools have a major issue of inauthenticity and a lack of flexibility, which means the bots are vulnerable to manipulation by people.

The most infamous example of this was Coca-Cola's automated Twitter campaign that was tricked into quoting Hitler.

Here are some of the tweets an account called @MeinCoke sent to Coca-Cola's Twitter bot:

Coca-Cola Twitter Bot

Here is one of Coca-Cola's auto responses that the company eventually deleted:

Coca-Cola Twitter bot

Source: National Post

All of these issues show the serious limitations that automated content creation has. It still needs serious human oversight to make sure the content is well-written, accurate, authentic, and does not quote Hitler.

Content Scheduling: Convenient but Suboptimal

Content scheduling is a big advantage of automated content that also has the lowest risks or downsides compared to creating content automatically.

Managing an editorial calendar is a time-consuming task — just think of how much time you can spend properly publishing a single piece of content on all your websites, blogs, email campaigns, social media channels, apps, and so on.

In the past, you’d have to manually publish the same piece of content on every platform you use for your marketing, one at a time, at the time you wanted it published.

Now, you can use these tools to automatically schedule and publish your content with a much easier process.

Automated content scheduling tools tell you the optimal time to publish something on social media, and others will automate the process ahead of time for you.

For example, Hootsuite allows you to post the same content to all of your social media accounts at the same time. It also lets you schedule when you post them well in advance.

So in one day, you can schedule your editorial calendar weeks, months, or even a year ahead of time.

Specifically, automated content scheduling means you plan, execute, and report on the performance of your complete editorial calendar for the year well in advance.

There are limitations, however. While posting the same thing on every social media account saves a lot of time, it is not the best way to post content if you want optimal performance.

Twitter has character limitations that other platforms do not, so you are unable to publish the same long post to Twitter that you are to Facebook or Instagram.

Each platform tends to have different demographics as well, so things like images, videos, text, and hashtags won't get the same performance across every social media account.

There is no complete one-stop automation tool to publish all your content for you on every platform and channel. Hootsuite might be great for social media, even with its limitations, but it won't be able to manage all non-social media channels, too.

The other problem is that once you post on social media, someone needs to engage with people to generate awareness, working as your brand advocate.

You will still need a real human managing each social media platform to reply to comments with authentic, interesting responses. As a brand, you need to demonstrate your competencies and social listening skills.

Automated Content: How To Use It Now

Automated content has a lot of potential that focuses on serving an audience with news such as tours and product launches, price tracking, and so on.

There is also a flipside to relying too much on user-generated content.

The tools that exist now help save marketers time when it comes to basic content marketing tasks.

However, automated content has some risk when serving clients with direct and personal interactions, particularly the growing and dominant market of millennials and the studies that show they do not respond positively to inauthenticity.

Just ask Coca-Cola.


About the Author

Headshot of Cindy HaynesCindy Haynes is the Managing Director, Partner at EraserFarm, a Tampa branding and creative agency. Cindy has over 25 years of experience in leadership within retail, marketing, and integrated advertising platforms and aims at educating business owners about diversity within a new-age digital world. Connect with Cindy on Twitter.