In November 2022, a new technology took the world by storm. ChatGPT—the generative AI chatbot known for its incredible conversational abilities—hit like a technological hurricane, paving the way for a revolution in how we work, learn, and communicate.
Not since the arrival of social media has a new digital technology offered such promise, but also so many potential challenges.
But what is ChatGPT, you may ask? It’s hard to believe that a tool capable of understanding and generating human-like speech was, until recently, confined to science fiction.
But ChatGPT has rapidly garnered attention for its potential to reshape how we interact with technology, not to mention streamline a staggering array of tasks in sectors including digital marketing.
In this article, we’ll answer the question: “What is ChatGPT?” focusing, in particular, on how you can use it to enhance your digital marketing practice.
We’ll cover the following topics in detail:
- What is ChatGPT?
- How to use ChatGPT
- Some of the best uses for ChatGPT
- Key takeaways
Ready to explore the world of ChatGPT? Let’s dive in.
1. What is ChatGPT?
What is ChatGPT? In short, ChatGPT is a groundbreaking chatbot developed by the privately held artificial intelligence research lab, OpenAI. But this oversimplifies it—ChatGPT is not just any chatbot.
What makes the tool so powerful is its ability to comprehend and complete a wide range of complex tasks, all of which involve understanding and producing human-like language.
ChatGPT can complete tasks including content generation (probably what it is best known for) but also things like writing and debugging computer code, explaining complex concepts in straightforward terms, supporting data analytics, and even providing creative ideas for projects.
This versatility means ChatGPT has potential applications in many sectors and topic areas. To fully grasp its significance, it’ll help to learn more about where it has come from and where it is going.
A brief history
The quest for artificial intelligence (AI) has been a long one. Researchers have been trying to create machines that could mimic human intelligence for decades.
Over that time, the journey has seen significant milestones, from the early days of symbolic AI in the 1960s and 70s (which involved teaching machines to follow sets of rules, although—crucially—without the ability to adapt or go beyond these rules) to the adaptable and far more sophisticated era of neural networks and machine learning that is now upon us.
The evolution of these technologies has laid the foundation for an area of AI research known as natural language processing (NLP). This involves creating models capable of understanding and generating human-like text.
Many public and private organizations have been working towards this goal by developing so-called “large language models” (LLMs). However, OpenAI was the first to go public with its tool.
At the heart of ChatGPT lies the revolutionary GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) LLM. This large language model is pre-trained on vast amounts of text data, enabling it to learn the intricacies of human language and generate coherent and context-accurate text outputs in response.
OpenAI harnessed the power of GPT to create its eponymous tool, and the rest, as they say, is history!
ChatGPT first launched in November 2022. While there are many measures of its impact, ChatGPT’s app had the fastest-growing user base of all time (if that’s any indicator of its success!) until the arrival of Meta’s Threads in July 2023.
But, while Threads’ userbase seems to be declining, that’s certainly not the case for ChatGPT.
Now we know a little about the history of ChatGPT, let’s explore some features that set this groundbreaking tool apart:
- Natural language comprehension: Trained on massive amounts of text data, ChatGPT can comprehend and respond to text inputs of almost any kind and in multiple languages.
- Conversational engagement: ChatGPT can hold engaging and (within the limits of its training data) context-aware conversations, recalling previous inputs to make the conversation as natural as possible.
- Text generation: The tool’s ability to produce human-sounding text makes it excellent for the purposes of content creation.
- Programming assistance: Developers can use ChatGPT to support their coding efforts, for example, by using the tool to produce examples or explanations and to debug code.
- Research support: Researchers can use ChatGPT to summarise large amounts of text information, aiding their work.
- Ideas generation: ChatGPT is excellent at brainstorming ideas and suggesting creative concepts. Not all of these are good ones but it’s a starting point!
- Interactive encyclopedia: Having been trained on a vast knowledge base, ChatGPT can answer questions on topics ranging from science and history to math and mythology. At present, its main limitation is that it cannot report on current events due to its training data cut-off point (often more poetically known as the “knowledge horizon”)
In addition, users willing (and able) to pay for ChatGPT Plus benefit from additional perks such as faster response rates, access to new features and updates, and increased availability during peak times. But the free version is still pretty solid!
It goes without saying that the introduction of ChatGPT—and tools like it—carries implications for how we do business, not to mention for society at large. Depending on how we move forward with AI, these have the potential to be both positive and negative.
Some positive impacts include:
- Improving productivity: In a world where governments measure their economic success on productivity, ChatGPT can streamline various tasks. It not only boosts productivity at the individual level but also for organizations and whole economies.
- Global connectivity: The tool’s multilingual abilities break down language barriers, potentially improving communication on a global scale. In the future, this could promote improved cross-border collaboration, facilitating international business negotiations, diplomacy, and cultural exchanges. Universal translator, anyone? (We’re not quite there yet, but we may be soon!)
- Educational support: ChatGPT is a great tool for helping learners understand complex concepts or providing context-specific explanations.
- Innovation and creativity: From product design to digital marketing campaigns, ChatGPT can spark fresh thinking in many key business areas (just don’t ask it to tell any jokes!)
Of course, it pays to take a balanced view. Any new technology, particularly one adopted at the speed and on the scale of ChatGPT, has potential downsides, too. Here are some possible negative impacts worth considering:
- Misinformation: Although it has safeguards, there’s a risk that ChatGPT and similar tools could be maladapted to spread misinformation or generate hate content. OpenAI is actively working on guardrails and content moderation to minimize this risk, but it remains an ongoing area of concern.
- Privacy: Although OpenAI implements data security measures, there is always a risk when users have a conversation with ChatGPT that involves divulging sensitive information.
- Bias and discrimination: Large language models like ChatGPT can inadvertently reflect biases in their training data. The AI development community is finding ways to reduce these biases to try and ensure these systems reflect the ideals of a more just, equitable society. But again, this is an ongoing area of concern.
- Cultural clashes: Who decides on the ethics of AI output? Nobody wants to create a chatbot that produces hate speech, but not all moral concerns are so clear-cut. Cultural belief systems differ. What one culture deems as an acceptable AI output could be considered offensive or inappropriate in another context.
- Intellectual property concerns: Since ChatGPT generates text based on existing training data, there are serious concerns regarding intellectual property—especially when it generates content resembling copyrighted material. This may lead to legal disputes in the future, while also raising more profound questions about the underlying value of human creativity.
Although many AI professionals are working to address these concerns, it’s still necessary to acknowledge them. As AI technology continues to evolve, collaboration between technology companies, policymakers, and society at large is of paramount importance.
2. How to use ChatGPT
Thanks to its user-friendly interface, using ChatGPT is very self-explanatory. The trickiest part is figuring out how to adjust your prompts for specific use cases.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
- Access ChatGPT: Visit the OpenAI website (or a platform that integrates with ChatGPT, such as Bing). If you’re not logged in, do so. You can easily sign in using an existing email address.
- Choose your plan: Select a plan that suits your needs. The tool automatically defaults to the free plan. For $20/month, OpenAI also offers ChatGPT Plus, which offers access to the latest and most capable model, faster response speeds, and beta features like live browsing and advanced data analysis.
- Compose your prompt: Now for the fun bit! To interact with ChatGPT, give it a prompt—a statement or question that sets the context for your desired response. Remember: the more information you give ChatGPT, the better its output will be.
- Talk to ChatGPT: Remember, ChatGPT is a chatbot. It will respond to your prompt in real-time. You can then continue the conversation, and it should remember your earlier prompts and its responses, just like you’re having a real conversation.
- Experiment: Play with different prompts and styles to get your desired results. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to adjust its tone. For fun, let’s say you’ve asked it: “What is ChatGPT?” and it has given you an output. You could then prompt: “Please repeat that, but in the style of a Valley Girl” to see what it does! Alternatively, if you’re trying to understand a complex topic: “Please repeat that using less technical language”, for example.
- Review and edit: ChatGPT generates responses based on its training data. But it doesn’t always get things right, and it often comes across as a bit generic. Even if the output sounds convincing, ensure you carefully review and edit it to ensure it’s both factually and grammatically correct and that it matches your preferred style or tone of voice.
The best way to learn how to use ChatGPT is to give it a go.
Our top tip? Talk to it (or, at least, write to it) like a person. After years of using Google, we’ve grown accustomed to interacting with tech as if we’re using a search engine.
ChatGPT is more sophisticated. If it doesn’t produce the desired output, correct it the same way you’d correct a colleague if they got something wrong. You’ll be surprised how well this works.
Want more help with prompts? Check out this guide for more detailed information and specific prompts tailored for digital marketing.
3. Some of the best uses for ChatGPT
As we’ve already learned, ChatGPT’s versatility means it can aid in a wide variety of tasks in very different domains. This is what makes it such a revolutionary tool.
Here are some of its best use cases for digital marketing:
- Content generation: ChatGPT can produce drafts of various kinds of content, including blog posts, articles, social media captions, product descriptions, video scripts, and email marketing campaigns.
- Digital marketing strategy: Use ChatGPT to streamline tasks related to digital marketing strategy. These tasks could include identifying keywords for your SEO strategy, conducting a competitor analysis, and more.
- Customer support: Many companies have already integrated ChatGPT into their websites, using chatbots that automate customer support responses. This not only reduces response times but ensures customer help is available 24/7.
- Marketing analysis: ChatGPT’s analytical capabilities are ideal for data analysis, report generation, and extracting insights from complex datasets. Copy and paste a dataset into the tool and give it a go! It’s especially useful for sentiment analysis.
- Developer’s assistant: Marketing software developers—perhaps building a new website, app, or other product—can use ChatGPT for coding and debugging support.
- Translation: ChatGPT is excellent at translating and localizing content. While it’s not 100% there yet, it’s a great way to get the bulk of translation tasks completed before handing them over to a human translator for polishing.
- Market research: Use ChatGPT to generate surveys, conduct market research, and analyze customer feedback. You can use these data-backed insights to inform future digital marketing decisions.
The list could go on, but these are some of the main use cases for ChatGPT in digital marketing right now. Who knows what the future might hold?
Perhaps upcoming iterations of ChatGPT could even automate tasks such as social media management or video creation. At this stage, the possibilities with this exciting new technology are endless.
4. Key takeaways
In this post, we’ve asked: “What is ChatGPT?” and explored various aspects of this exciting new AI tool, with a focus on its uses in digital marketing. We’ve learned that:
- ChatGPT is a generative AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. It is known for its ability to understand and generate human-like text. It is applicable in many contexts.
- ChatGPT is powered by the revolutionary GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) technology, a large language model trained on massive amounts of text data.
- ChatGPT’s features include natural language comprehension, conversational engagement, text generation, programming abilities, and research support.
- Using ChatGPT is very straightforward and involves composing written prompts to initiate conversations or tasks. Experimentation and careful review of its output are essential to get the desired results.
- Digital marketers may use ChatGPT for content generation, marketing strategy and analysis, customer support, translation, market research, and more.
- The potential applications of ChatGPT are continually expanding. In the future, it may be able to perform many more complex tasks, both in digital marketing and in other domains.
So, in answer to our original question: “What is ChatGPT?” we can see that there is no single answer. ChatGPT has many guises. It is a content generator. It is a programming support tool.
It is an encyclopedia. And yes, it can even help with the full range of digital marketing activities, from data analysis to social media management.
ChatGPT isn’t the only LLM out there, of course. Find out which of the big guns is right for you with our article on Bard vs ChatGPT.
If you want to keep up to date with the latest changes in digital marketing, try our free, 5-day digital marketing short course, or check out the following guides: