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March 2023, subscribe to the newsletter

We’ve been reflecting on the creation of our enhanced User Needs Model over the past few weeks and it’s time (and timely) to acknowledge how its refinement came from an unexpected source.

After weeks of grappling with how to frame and name one of the user needs ('Keep me on trend') in User Needs 2.0, one of our number suggested we asked ChatGPT for an alternative. The photo below was the moment that we all realised that we should incorporate ChatGPT's suggestion into the final model. 

Of course we have to take some credit: ChatGPT’s brainwave was preceded by us feeding it with all our own [very, very sophisticated] thoughts. Here's the prompt we gave and its frustratingly on-point answer.

We’re not alone in using ChatGPT like this. Content creators and journalists worldwide are exploring the potential of GPT-3 and GPT-4 in their daily work. Likewise, programmers (including those at smartocto) are exploring how Artificial Intelligence (AI) services can enhance their offerings. 

There’s an obvious link and synergy between this and user needs: is it possible for a bot to recognise which user needs are being satisfied in any given article? The next step would be for our system to identify what kind of story the reader is seeking.

Let ChatGPT help you too

It was the simplicity of the solution that surprised us the most. Ultimately, we settled on a slight variation: 'Keep me engaged'. We may have viewed the term 'engagement' more in a post-publication context, rather than in the needs of a user. This was an important reminder: sometimes you get so deep into the subject matter that you overlook the obvious. A chatbot remains indifferent to such trivialities. AI should certainly not be discounted. 

What's New in Publishing explained what AI cannot do: ask critical questions, conduct investigations... but it can be a supportive force that generates ideas and rephrases sentences - even creating headlines, for example. ChatGPT can accomplish this with a straightforward prompt:

Great reactions on publishing whitepaper

Let’s not give ChatGPT the credit for all the attention we’ve garnered since we published our whitepaper. Our almost entirely un-bot-like team has done a great job and, because we’re human, it’s been immensely satisfying to see the reception to this project in the global media landscape:

  • “I haven’t come across a model that’s as effective as user needs in bringing a newsroom closer to its audiences and delivering value to them.” - Khalil A. Cassimally, The Audiencers
  • “[User needs] drive creativity and diversity of form in the media production. A simple and plausible approach - at the same time a potential game-changer.” Ladima Heimgartner, Blinck Group
  • “Before visitors [of DRIVE] of regional portals take out a digital subscription, they read ‘Inspire me’ articles and ‘Give me perspective’ more often than average.” Katja Fleischman, DRIVE (German)
  • “This is absolutely smashing. Putting serving the reader in a totally product-driven, audience-centred lens.” Yunita Ong, LinkedIn Editorial

Join the conversation about user needs

One of the questions we have been receiving over the past few weeks is how smartocto will use AI to optimise content strategy based on user needs. These questions - and our answers - are too good to be kept in an Inbox, so we’ve published a Q&A on our website. It’s an active document, and we’ll publish more questions and answers there as we receive them. Please join in!

Additionally, during our webinar on the new user needs model (which you can still watch here), we noticed that while people didn’t have any specific questions, they were keen to discuss the model further. So, we’ve set up a user needs community on LinkedIn. Join this group on LinkedIn and participate in the conversation! 

It all starts with asking the right questions

Maybe you have already played with ChatGPT yourself (if not, you should definitely give it a try). What you learn is that even with a language model as advanced as this, creativity is sparked by the right input, whether it's a question or a prompt. 

Interestingly, a Dutch broadcaster came to the same conclusion when user needs were introduced into the editorial process: now when faced with a new topic, the editor doesn't ask "what are we going to do with this?" but rather "what story about [topic] can we create that fulfils the 'Help me' need?". The better the question, the better the answer.

reading tips

  • An open letter with signatures from hundreds of the biggest names in tech has urged the world’s leading artificial intelligence labs to pause the training of new systems for six months. Recent advances in AI could have risks to society and humanity, the signatories say.
  • Buzzfeed used AI to create its own influencer coach. You can play the game and check how good your influencer skills are. 
  • ChatGPT is launching plugins for a select group of users. With the use of plugins, ChatGPT gains access to information outside the training data used to create the generative AI bot. 
  • For the professionals: you can also create your own chatbot, based on notes you stored on Notion. You can test it for free, but eventually, it's premium. 
  • Fake images created by artificial intelligence (AI) tools depicting Donald Trump have appeared on social media over the past week. The BBC shows how you can spot an AI-generated picture.

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