I’ve been diving deep into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) for a while now, especially as it pertains to how it will change digital marketing and, more specifically, search engine optimization. I recently did some thought experiments that generated some share-worthy results.
While nobody really knows how AI will impact digital marketing and SEO longer term, one thing I hear consistently from AI, marketing and communications practitioners is that non-branded search may be in trouble. The advice I hear from these experts is that people and companies should double down on efforts to build their brands – that public relations (PR) is making a significant comeback and that now is the time for brands to build community, do live, human-to-human events and grow an army of brand champions.
While I’m not totally convinced that non-branded search is dead, I do agree that brand building should be a primary focus in this bold new world of technologies such as ChatGPT, Bard, Llama 2 or other large language models available today.
As a guy that runs a PR and digital marketing firm, I’m of course thrilled that PR is making a comeback – this is great news for me! But the reality is that brand building has ALWAYS been a critically important marketing and communications activity.
While it appears that what was once old may be new again, this renewed focus on brand building to ensure your brand is known by large language models in the future really got me thinking …
What does it take to be a known “brand” or entity by ChatGPT?
I started to ask ChatGPT questions about my own company and my own name – Since, despite knowing it’s important, I haven’t put a lot of effort into building my own brand or my company’s brand online, I’m not surprised by the results. Here was my prompt and ChatGPT-4’s response:
I then started to wonder if there was a “threshold” that needed to be reached in order for a brand to be known by ChatGPT, so I started asking about more people and brands, starting with some prolific content creators including a couple of my favorites, Gary Vee and Neil Patel. Here are my prompts and most of ChatGPT’s responses for each question:
I then decided to see what I could find a little closer to home and did some searching on WSI, the global digital marketing network that my agency loves being part of! My first question gave me an interesting response:
Ok fair enough and good point. I gave a little more context:
WSI, the internet marketing company, made the cut! Branded search success!!! I wanted to know what ChatGPT knew about WSI’s leadership. Here is what I asked and learned:
Sorry Michael! I’m actually not surprised about this given Mike’s role within WSI, which is much more internally facing – I can tell you, Mike is literally a rockstar within the WSI network and every agency’s favorite guy.
I went on to do a lot more of these types of searches on companies and people with personal brands and the results were interesting – I will write another blog about those results in the future as I’m not quite done with my exploration.
After all that fun, I didn’t have a clearer picture. So I decided to go back to ChatGPT to ask one more question – and the response was beautiful!
Here was my prompt:
Here is the first part of the response:
And this is how the response continues and concludes – THIS says it all:
There you have it. What ChatGPT told us is what all marketers tell their customers all the time – if you want to build an online brand, create genuine value, have a multi-channel strategy and do so consistently over time, you need to build authority.
It’s important that I point out that in the thought experiment shown above, I went down a bit of a rabbit hole around the idea of what it takes to be a known brand or entity by ChatGPT.
That may not be important to you or your company – as you can see, my personal and business brand didn’t make the cut, but I still have a growing business and enjoy a good level of success. I may even go as far as saying that I have a large and diverse contact network and I think I have a good brand and reputation amongst this network that has served me very well throughout my professional career.
But whether it’s your goal to build your brand to a level where it will be recognized by large language models or to build it to a level where you can run a successful small business with your spouse, it doesn’t change the fact that brand building should be your most important marketing/PR focus.
On the smaller side of brand building, the focus is simply more local. It’s about being deliberate about creating a great reputation with your customers, about being the best partner to your suppliers, about being a great member of your local business community, volunteer organization or about being an awesome neighbour within the building your business is located in. On the smaller side, it’s also about building your social media presence and the authority of your website, hosting staff events, speaking at and sponsoring industry conferences and getting some earned media in the local or community newspaper.
Whether you are a big or small brand, the scale may be different, but the approach is the same – create value, do it consistently and utilise a variety of channels to get the word out.