The power of the human touch

The term artificial intelligence will trigger a variety of thoughts. A movie buff may think of Hal 9000 or Skynet, a movie star may be concerned about the rights to their image and previous work, and a movie screenwriter may fear for their livelihood. And screenwriters aren’t the only people needing to consider the impact of AI generated content. As a startup founder you want to make an impact with your words and come across as genuine and authentic.

ChatGPT was launched in November 2022 with the capability to rapidly generate text on any topic. Articles can be written at the push of a button. Social media platforms are not discouraging AI generated content. LinkedIn has built AI text generation into its platform and plenty of third-party post generators are available. The result is a race to the bottom as content creators spew forth a stream of empty content competing for our attention. There is only one way to stand out against this flood of computer-generated text: the reader must be able to connect with you, the human entrepreneur behind your message.

The Turing Test

Back in 1950, computer pioneer Alan Turing set out a simple test to establish a computer’s intelligence: he called it the imitation game. To pass the test, the computer must generate text indistinguishable from a human’s writing. After decades of failure the test has now been turned on its head. Now the machine can pass as human, so we must demonstrate that we are more than a machine.

The good news is that there is a well-established model to help us do this: The SUCCESS model.  To stand out as human you need to create: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories.

Let’s play the imitation game 

Consider these two versions of a social media post. Only one of them was written by a human. 

Version 1

Each year, over 90 tonnes of used disposable nappies contribute significantly to environmental waste. BlueStone Resort has partnered with a local social enterprise to address this issue, taking a bold step towards a greener future. The innovative initiative involves collecting used nappies, thoroughly cleaning them, and separating out the fibres for processing into sustainable asphalt.

“BlueStone Resort recognises the urgent need for sustainable practices within the hospitality industry and aims to set a precedent for other establishments. The resort's commitment to environmental responsibility aligns with its dedication to preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding Welsh landscape

Version 2

No, I haven't suddenly had a baby! This is actually a really cool eco-initiative at BlueStone in Wales. Over 90 tonnes of used disposable nappies are thrown away each year at the resort. But rather than go into landfill a local social enterprise cleans them and separates the fibres which are then processed and used to create the asphalt for roads at the resort. Genius! Why can't this happen to every disposable nappy in the UK?

Let’s go through our checklist and see how these two measure up, beginning with Simple, Concrete, and Credible. Both are concrete and credible, but the first post is nearly twice the length without adding anything useful. It feels corporate rather than the voice of an individual.  Compare the phrases like “taking a bold step towards a greener future” and “the innovative initiative” with the simple exclamation “Genius!” It feels uniquely human, and those six letters imply so much more than a dozen words.

Next let us consider Surprising and Emotional. The second version starts with reference to an accompanying picture that will have surprised any reader who knows the poster. They do not have a baby, so why do they have nappies? It concludes with an emotional plea: why can’t this happen to every disposable nappy? Can you find anything surprising or emotional in the first version? Neither can I.

There is an opportunity here to make the article more human by introducing story. Who were the people behind this initiative? What was their motivation? How were they inspired? What challenges did they meet? There is a story to be told, we want to hear it.

Be human

If you are a startup communicating with your recently acquired and prospective customers, you have something very powerful. A shared story that is either in progress or about to begin. You are providing something that they need, joining together in a mutually beneficial relationship.   Human relationships are rich and complex, spinning a myriad of narratives. 

Now, take a look at what you are writing. Is it simple, credible, and real? How can you weave those stories into your text? How can you surprise your readers and make them feel emotion? By applying the SUCCESS model, you will show your readers and potential clients that you are human and connect with them in a way that no machine ever could.