Why is content getting so chatty?

Corporate Affairs, Digital, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Media, Engagement

Chris Leitch 23 Aug 2022
3 mins

Water cooler chats have long been a staple of the office environment, a work break to share on any subject from weekend activities, news and TV programs to lightbulb moments and project ideas.

These casual conversations remain an important part of good organisational culture, allowing ideas to flow, minds to refresh and people to converse on a personal level.

It is one reason why, despite COVID-19 driving people away from the office, many business leaders are reverting to hybrid work models that encourage people to be in the office for at least part for their week.

Technology businesses are trying to capture that same personal vibe through digital applications, engaging people in casual chats and using artificial intelligence to learn more about them and better personalise their offerings.

This conversational content is the next evolution in personalising content.

This month Meta, the parent company of Facebook, released its AI prototype BlenderBot, a ‘conversational agent that can converse naturally with people’.

It has its weaknesses. With responses based on material trawled from the internet, it comes with a warning that the bot will share some untrue or offensive statements, which users are encouraged to report and provide feedback.

Some of the responses it generated were amusing for the neutral observer – it told one news organisation that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ‘a good businessman but his business practices are not always ethical. It is funny that he has all this money and still wears the same clothes!’

However, it’s the delivery mechanism that demonstrates how personalised content is progressing.

In the same way that the water cooler chat lets a person see their colleagues beyond their work exterior, Facebook’s AI is about getting to better know its people and their interests – in this case to further personalise and adapt its algorithms and product offerings.

BlenderBot is essentially an extension of the chatbot, the AI device that is increasingly the first contact visitors have with a brand when visiting a website, and these interactions will only get more conversational as AI better learns how people speak.

It’s a growing trend. Newsroom AI, a UK-based company, recently released an application called Public that similarly elevates conversational content.

In a style closer to WhatsApp than a traditional digital news offering, Public illustrates a style that is fast becoming the way many people consume information. It allows people to engage with editorial or brand-supported content in a more conversational way, encouraging readers to discuss the news or a product rather than just telling the reader.

Take a look:

It’s humanising the interaction while also providing insights into what subject, information or other elements are important to the reader, data that is highly valuable to personalising a product offering or a communication to clients.

But why spend all this time and effort to personalise content in this way? Because it’s hugely valuable – in the money sense.

Data from consultancy firm McKinsey underlines the monetary importance of personalised communications – 76 per cent of respondents to a consumer survey said personalised communications was a key factor in considering a brand, and 78 per cent said such content made them more likely to repurchase.

With any content, it’s critically important to know your audience. Personalised data helps business to know their audience better, identify opportunities and create content that retains customers as well as tap into new ones.

Algorithms in apps such as Spotify and TikTok already know this – they make playlists, podcast and video suggestions based on items you have listened to, watched and enjoyed, having already drawn insights from others who have consumed similar content.

AI is already a useful tool in creating and editing content. Now it is fast becoming a means that is helping brands to learn even more about their audience and in turn, how to personalise their offering better.

It’s a worthwhile chat when you next visit the water cooler.

Chris Leitch More from author

Chris Leitch is an experienced writer and online editor, proficient in producing website content and developing marketing and digital communications strategies and materials.

He puts his skills to work managing writing projects for Purple clients, in addition to working across many parts of the business helping to create content and shape digital marketing ideas.

After completing a Communications degree at Edith Cowan University, Chris cut his journalistic teeth at the NT News and worked at Community Newspapers, News Corp and Seven West Media before moving into marketing communications.

Away from the office, Chris’s main goals are spending time with his girls and finding time to hit the beach, improve his golf and dabble in fantasy sports. He spent many summers bowling inswingers for the Scarborough Cricket Club.

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