Move Over, Robowriters: Machines Can't Write Emotional Content

Design Thinking Is the Next Content Marketing Frontier

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By 2018, machines will be writing 20% of all business content, Gartner predicts. In fact, this trend is already happening behind the scenes. "Robowriters" are increasingly producing finance, sports and business reports. One advantage of machines is that they don't have biases or emotional responses, according to Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer.

I can agree that machine-generated content will work basic formulaic information. What I won't buy is a world of content that exists purely on facts and data, void of any emotional connections. In fact, another trend that is now happening may signal a need for even more writers who can make personal connections with audiences.

This trend is "design thinking." The first principle of design thinking for products is to empathize with users by focusing on their experiences -- especially their emotional ones. To build empathy with users, a design-centric organization empowers employees to observe behavior and draw conclusions about people's needs and wants.

As author Jon Kolko states in a Harvard Business Review article, "Organizations that 'get' design use emotional language (words that concern desires, aspirations, engagement and experience) to describe products and users."

Companies like IBM and GE are following Apple's lead in embracing "design thinking." This year alone, IBM is seeking to hire 1,100 designers to help reignite growth and change corporate culture. What may be a "boom time" for designers may also have a waterfall effect on content creators.

Marketers are now embracing design thinking as a response to the increased complexity of today's products and/or business environment. For example, as Apple has learned, people need their interactions with technologies and other systems (like healthcare) to be simple, intuitive and -- often -- enjoyable.

As companies improve the product/user experience, organizations must improve how they communicate emotionally derived value propositions. This is the next big opportunity for content marketers.

Robowriters can't understand the emotional triggers involved in the purchasing process (at least not yet). As Nestlabs CEO Tony Fadell said: "At the end of the day you have to espouse a feeling -- in your advertisements, in your products. And that feeling comes from your gut."

With ever-expanding distribution channels, the need for content has never been greater. As machines move in to fill the void, the world of content will divide into algorithm-assembled, fact-oriented content and human-generated "emotional" content.

The handwriting may be on the wall for some writers, but the upside of this trend may just usher in a new Golden Era of impactful, relevant content marketing for many. For now, if you create content, take inventory of what you do on a daily basis and make plans to move to the human side. If not, you will risk being replaced by a "bot."